Whether they love it or loathe it, lathering up your dog every once in a while should be a vital part of every owner’s grooming routine.
Regular bathing helps keep your dog free of dirt and infection and also ensures they maintain healthy skin and a glowing coat.
However, there’s no denying it can be a stressful and difficult experience, and so to make things easier on you and your pup, we’ve put together an in-depth guide to help you get the cleanest canine in town!
Believe it or not, bathing a dog is never as easy as just chucking a mutt in a nice hot bath.
It takes time and preparation, and there are several steps you must take before you even turn on the tap!
Choosing The Right Bathing Products
Before you even think about dunking your doggy into the tub, you need to ensure you have the right bathing products for their skin and hair.
Firstly, you must never use human shampoo or conditioner on your pup!
Human products are far too abrasive and harsh on your pooch’s skin and will likely dry them out and cause painful irritation. It’s best instead to use a dog-specific shampoo, which will reduce the chances of your mutt having any kind of bad reactions.
There is a wide range of dog shampoos available, all coming with various features and promises, so if you’re unsure of what to choose, try and always pick a poo that is mild and moisturizing for your pup.
Oatmeal-based shampoos tend to be the most natural and organic choices for canines, and products designed for puppies tend to be the most soothing and non-irritating.
You also need to take into account if your dog has any existing skin conditions such as dandruff or fungal infection that can be treated with shampoo. If so, it’s better to go with a medicated or anti-bacterial product which can help fight against germs and repair their skin damage.
Considering the suds are going to get everywhere, it’s also helpful to read up on how safe a shampoo product is to ingest and whether it is a no tears solution (won’t sting a pooch’s eyes).
This is a step so many of us forget, but a thorough brushing will make washing your canine so much easier. By getting all the knots and tangles out of their hair, it makes applying shampoo and scrubbing a smooth and simple activity rather than a battle!
Where To Bathe A Dog
Many of you will find it easiest to just use your bath when washing your dog, especially if they’re a larger breed.
However, given how much dog’s shake and move around when bathing, if you’ve not got a wet room, it can sometimes be smarter to purchase yourself a doggy tub.
Small bathtubs, laundry tubs, large laundry buckets and baby baths can make perfectly suitable washing arenas, and also allow you to conduct bath time outside if you wish!
If your prized pooch has a fear of water, it can also be useful to pick a familiar spot in your home where they know they will be safe, hopefully easing their anxieties when it comes to getting in the tub. However, the downside of this is that it probably won’t be the most waterproof of areas!
Mats, Towels and Other Supplies
Naturally, it’s not just your dog that gets wet at bath times, and you need to be fully expectant that you and your home will get a good soaking while washing. It’s therefore important to have plenty of items which can help you best deal with the incoming monsoon.
Towels for the ground are vital to ensuring all the splashing is easily mopped up and rubber or non-slip bath mats can ensure your tub doesn’t move around too much either. And obviously, you’ll need a towel to dry Rover with too!
Cotton balls help keep water out of your dog’s ears and there are also plenty of products out there which can make life easier if bath time is just generally a struggle. Items such as dog robes can make drying long-haired pooches a quicker process, and there are also distraction devices such as lick pads for anxious or scared pups.
And of course, it’s probably not a good idea to wear your best suit and tie when playing bather, so try and wear something waterproof!
Ok, now you’re prepared, it’s finally time to start washing your mucky mutt.
And thankfully, this part is fairly self-explanatory, although we do have several tips which will help ensure your hound is spotless post-bath!
Although some humans enjoy a nice, hot, steaming sink in the tub, it’s unlikely your dog will get a kick out of the same temperature.
As previously mentioned, dog’s have a very sensitive skin mantle and so running too hot a bath will simply be putting them at risk of suffering burns.
This means some people often wrongly assume dog’s like cold baths, but of course, this is equally as unpleasant.
Aim for a lukewarm bath, making sure you are constantly testing the heat of the water with the back of your hand while running the tap.
If you know how to wash yourself, cleaning your dog isn’t going to be too much of a struggle.
First, wet down your dog, ensuring that if you are using a shower nozzle that you are not applying too much pressure.
Then begin lathering up your up with your chosen dog shampoo, cleaning from bottom to top.
Dog’s feet and legs are likely to pick up the most dirt, so pay special attention to them before moving up towards the body and head.
The head should always be left till last as this is usually the area which causes them to shake!
Although you might trust your chosen dog shampoo, it’s also probably best to still try and avoid the solution from getting in your dog’s eyes or mouth, just to be safe.
Once they’ve been given a good scrub, rinse your soggy mutt down from head to tail ensuring that all the soap has been removed.
It’s crucial to rinse your dog over several times, as any shampoo left in their coat will undoubtedly cause a lot of irritation!
It’s then up to you whether you then repeat the washing process with a conditioner, which is an entirely optional part of dog bathing.
It’s often only a consideration for longer-haired breeds, as it can help prevent them from getting too many knots and tangles.
If the surrounding area is well screened and protected, you can allow your dog to have a good old shake before getting out the bath, otherwise your best off immediately containing their urge by covering them in a towel.
Then take them out of the tub and place them on a towel or absorbent bath mat to help mop up drips.
From here, begin rubbing down your dog from their front to rear with a towel, taking care to rub in the direction of their fur.
This is the simplest method, although there is plenty of other ways. Drying mitts and quick-drying dog robes are often a popular method of mopping up a pooch and dog hairdryers also tend to be perfectly efficient, providing you are not using too hot a setting.
But whatever you do, it’s really important to ensure your dog does not remain too damp, as wet, warm fur often puts pups at risk of developing a fungal infection.
Wet patches of skin can also quickly become areas of moist dermatitis, a condition causing red and irritated lesions which dogs often lick and make worse.
A post-bath brushing session can help rid your dog of any last knots and trapped moisture, not to mention make them look nice and dapper!
From here though, you should be finally done, with a fresh-smelling Fido the result of your efforts.
However, if your dog appears to have any reactions or irritations following their bath, make sure to contact a vet immediately for advice.
Reward Your Four-Legged Friend
Unfortunately, dog bathing has to be done, and whether your pup deserves it or not, you need to give them some positive reinforcement if you want them to behave better next time.
Play, pet, praise or even just give them a load of dog treats and they’ll soon see that bath time comes with a bounty of rewards once it’s over!
Sounds Like Hell? Take Them To A Groomers!
If bathing your dog is just too stressful an experience, there’s no reason to keep putting yourself through it.
Groomers might come at a cost, but they will not only bathe your dog but also clip their hair and nails too! They can even do nasty stuff like express anal sacs (you don’t want to know).
For some pups, a semi-monthly trip to the groomers might even be a necessity, as long-haired breeds can end up like yetis without a regular trim!