Giving your dog a bath can be a real chore, especially if your pooch hates baths. Some dogs will try to wiggle free and run away, while others might even try to bite the hand that is restraining them. It’s important to know how to give a dog a bath safely so you don’t get hurt and so that you don’t end up with a traumatized pooch.
If your dog hates baths, it’s not your fault. Dogs that hate baths are just dogs who hate baths. It’s quite possible that they have a bad experience with bathing somewhere along the line. Or perhaps they have suffered soap getting in their eyes and ears at some point. On the other hand, they might have taken a breath when their snout was under water.
Regardless of the fear reason, here are some guidelines on how to bath a dog in a calm and stress-free manor.
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Tips on How to Give a Dog a Bath at Home
If your dog is quite large, then bathing him outside will definitely be easier. A tub on the ground will remove any ‘fear of heights’ sensation.
I actually have a shower-like attachment connected to hot and cold taps outside, so it is very easy to provide a warm bath and much easier for rinsing. If you don’t have such a convenient setup, then you will need to bucket warm water to the tub outside. Warm water is very important; water straight out of the hose is not advisable. If your dog is quite small, then you could decide on the laundry sink.
Before the Dog Bath
It’s annoying if you get your dog in the tub and then discover you have forgotten something. If you leave him to retrieve this forgotten object, he will no doubt make a break for it.
So here is a handy checklist for getting your dog and the bath ready beforehand:
- Examine your dog’s coat ahead of the bath. Tease out any knots or tangles so that you can really get to every strand of hair when washing – knots are harder to remove after the bath.
- Get your tools ready. These include:
- the tub
- a jug – for pouring water over his back and for rinsing
- water toys to calm a nervous dog.
- brush / comb
- Have some toys ready. Perhaps your dog loves to go swimming but hates the confines of a tub. If this is the case, then you might find that a few water toys can come in handy.
- Start by getting your dog used to the idea of water and bathing. You can do this by simply letting him play in puddles and other wet spots. If he enjoys getting wet and playing with water, he may be more willing to get in the tub when the time comes for his bath.
During the Dog Bath
Some guidelines on what to watch for:
- Make sure you protect the eyes.
- Similarly protect the ears. Make sure there is no soap trapped inside the ears at the end, as this could lead to infections.
- If you do find that your dog has irritated ears or is prone to infections, you might want to consider a Dog Ear Wash (affiliate link).
- Soak the coat well; then apply shampoo and lather well, giving your dog a nice-feeling massage at the same time.
- Wait until near the end of the bath to wash the head.
- Rinse really well and then rinse again with clean water.
- If it’s a long-haired dog, you can squeeze a lot of the water out of his coat before lifting him out of the bath. This particularly applies to the paws if he has long hair in that area.
After the Dog Bath
Once you have lifted your pooch from the tub:
- Restrain him in some way so that he doesn’t run to the nearest dirt pile and roll in it.
- Towel him dry.
- If it is cold weather always finish off the drying process with the hair dryer.
- If it is warm weather, make sure he has a sunny spot to finish off drying. You can play ball with him to speed up the drying process. If you tether him in a sunny spot, make sure he has water near by.
- Comb and/or brush his hair. How to brush a dog depends on the breed as the technique can vary.
- If you find your dog shaking his head vigorously shortly after his bath, re-check the ears to make sure there is no residual soap left and that the ears are completely dry.
- To further reduce your dog’s nervousness, provide a treat straight after bathing. A treat after each bath can work wonders.
How Often Should You Give Your Dog a Bath?
How often you bath your dog will depend on his breed and of course the length of his coat. You don’t want to do it excessively to the point that you eliminate the oils that naturally occur in your dog’s coat. But it also depends on how resistant he still is to the whole idea of having a bath.
To some extent, it can also depend on the type of bedding you have for your dog. If the dog bed is kept as clean as possible, you can reduce some of the dog odours.
You will find that the times listed below will be season dependent and thus vary accordingly. Similarly it depends if your dog is an indoor dog or not.
- Very short haired dogs may need a bath only once every 6 – 8 months. (It is interesting to note that many short-haired breeds can malt more than longer haired breeds. That’s when you need a really good vacuum on hand after your grooming. )
- Longer haired dogs will need a bath every few weeks.
- Medium hair length is a variable term but you will find the best schedule somewhere in between that listed for the short to very long hair types.
I have found that odor is a very good indicator. We have one dog that rarely has a doggy odor whilst our second dog gives off a doggy odor within 3 days of being bathed. Both dogs are on the same diet.
Having said that, there can be quite a link between what your pet is eating and the extent to which he emits various smells, particularly so if you observe that he has bad breath. There are a number of guidelines that can help determine if diet is a factor in dog odor and certainly a trip to the vet can help verify this.
Where to Buy a Dog Bath
You can find a wide range of dog baths for home, as well as dog tubs for groomers online. The best part about Amazon as a source is that you can read reviews from people who have actually used the bath. And of course, there are grooming tubs for every dog size and type.
Also, our comparison of different dog tubs to suit different budgets can assist you in your choice.
A Note About Dog Shampoos
Make sure you use an appropriate shampoo intended for dogs, medicated if needed. There are plenty of shampoos around for puppies as well. Don’t use your own or any other shampoos made for humans. These can lead to skin allergies and irritations.
You can read a very interesting article here that discusses the different choices in dog shampoos: Click Here for Article on Dog Shampoos.
Dog Washing Can Be Fun
After reading these tips for bathing a dog, I hope you can see the potential bathing offers for spending quality time with your dog.
After awhile, once you get the routine down pat, you will find that giving your dog a bath provides the perfect opportunity to do a quick body check while spending quality time together.
You may even find that your dog starts to welcome his weekly or monthly clean up, especially if you make use of some toys to add fun to the session. After a while, you won’t even wonder how to give a dog a bath; it will just become part of the routine which allows you time to interact with your pet.