Bath time again! Bathing your fuzzy friend can either be a fun time or a bad time for everyone. This world has few greater forces than a wet and stressed dog. So the experts have some advice to help bath time remain fun, even if you’re a new dog owner or have a particularly stubborn pooch.
Before you even get your dog wet, it’s essential to know how often you should wash your dog. Some breeds need a good scrubbing more than others. Many smaller dogs don’t need as many baths because they can’t run around outside as much as more athletic breeds. Many smaller breeds remain inside and away from potent smells. Yet, they still need to be washed! Give all dogs a bath when they roll in something foul, every time they soil themselves, or every 4-8 weeks. A good rule of thumb is that if you leave your dog outside often, you’ll wash them more often.
Introduction to Bath Time
This step might take longer, depending on your situation. Young puppies getting introduced to bath time will have different training needs compared to adult dogs. Puppies may even be easier because they don’t have preloaded fears of a bath. So, let’s start with puppies and work our way towards stubborn and/or fearful doggies.
Puppies don’t even need to be shampooed and conditioned early on. Their skin is very sensitive for the first two months, and they can quickly adopt a fear of washing. So, you need to wash your puppy very gently and wait about 2-3 months before shampooing a puppy. There are a few exceptions, but it’s generally good practice.
Once you first start washing your puppy, use a warm and wet rag to wash the puppy gently, including its face. This gives your little furry baby the time to get used to the new circumstances it finds itself in. The first few “baths” are just time for your new friend to get used to the water and the act of washing. To help your puppy realize this is a good thing and it’s safe, give it treats during bath time. Once your dog is used to the rag and isn’t showing signs of fear during bath time (like shaking), you can graduate to shampoo and conditioner. The most important thing to do is to go slow. Your puppy needs time to adjust.
Adult Dogs and Anxious Adult Dogs
As for adult dogs, you’ve probably washed your dog before and are trying to make sure you’re washing it correctly. Is it nervous? If so, you also need an “introduction” phase for the dog (unless it’s an emergency, like your friend came back covered in unsavory material). The introduction is almost the same, but the challenge could be just getting your dog in the bath. If your dog is exceptionally resilient, then it’s safe to assume the bath is making your dog anxious. So, coax your dog into the wash using treats or comforting items. And for the first time, don’t wash your dog at all! Getting used to the space again is the main goal for this “bath.” Next time, use a warm rag again like you would for a puppy. And then eventually graduate to shampoo and conditioner when your dog will not bulldoze through you to get away.
Once your dog is ready for shampoo, we can get down to the grooming business!
Your dog is wet and isn’t deathly afraid of the nearest water source. We’re ready to begin. Washing a dog’s back and stomach is pretty simple. Just wash away with the appropriate and best dog shampoos. And don’t forget to use conditioner! Shampoo might seem optional (even for us people), but it’s replacing the oils you’re taking out of your dog’s coat from the shampoo.
But there is one part of your dog which is uniquely challenging to clean and is usually the cause of its bath time fear: its face. Washing your pet’s face presents a unique challenge because of all the areas dogs don’t like to get water. They quite like their ears, nose, or eyes water-free. If you want to be certain water will not get into your dog’s ears, you can gently put cotton balls inside its ears. It may be best to practice with your dog before going straight into the bath with them. Dogs are not exactly fond of anything in their ears, so a bit of practice will stop your dog from bucking around during bath time. Your dog may not let you, and that’s okay! Be extra careful around its ears.
And all the strong smells right on your dog’s nose can be stressful. Rather than using running water or your hands, use a cloth to dip in some soap and gently scrub your dog’s face. And then, use a clean wet rag to wash the soap away. If your dog has something around its eyes that needs cleaning, your rag is no longer your first choice, and you may even need a special cleaner. Everyday items you can use are toothbrushes and cotton swabs. They allow you to have pinpoint accuracy and prevent your dog from sprinting away from eye pain.
Once you rinse, make sure to rinse extremely thoroughly. You must get the soap out of the fur because the soaps will irritate your dog’s skin if left on. So, rinse thoroughly and rinse thoroughly again.
After bathing your dog, it’s time to start drying and brushing. Get as much of the water off with a towel as you can. Then, you can use a human-hair dryer but be careful with the temperature. Only use it on low or cool. You may find it better to buy a dog-specific hairdryer. Whether you use a hairdryer or just air-dry, make sure you brush your dog. It prevents matted hair and spreads out the oils from the coat and your conditioner. Brushing also stops tangles and can help prevent skin irritation.
You’re ready to help your dog get through bath time. Eventually, your dog should find the bathing process to be a lot less stressful as you do it consistently. But again, more important than anything else, make sure you go slowly with your dog. Otherwise, it will make both of your lives a little harder. And remember, if all else fails, lots of treats will help calm your dog down.