Grooming Tips – How to Bathe Your Dog

As much as we all love for our furry friends to smell fresh and clean, getting to that point isn’t always easy. Dogs are rarely excited to jump into the bathtub for a good scrub. Bathing fearful dogs might be better handled by a professional groomer or your veterinary office. But if you decide to wade in, here are some helpful hints.

Getting (You) Ready to Bathe Your Dog

Be sure you’re donning clothes that you’re okay with getting wet and dirty (and furry). Move all your grooming materials into the bathroom shampoo (ask your vet for suggestions specific to your dog), conditioner (a must for longer coats that need to be brushed out), brush, mineral oil (for eyes), cotton balls (for ears), at least two big, absorbent towels and, most importantly, TREATS. The best location for when you bathe a dog is in a room with a closed door; this will prevent a wet and nervous dog from fleeing through the building should she get away from you. Lay a non-skid mat down in the tub to help the dog keep his footing. If you don’t have a detachable shower head, a bowl or even a large cup is helpful in rinsing. Before beginning, have your supplies ready: brush, shampoo, detangler, mineral oil, cotton balls, and a muzzle or harness (if you plan to use one).


Getting Your Dog Ready for a Bath

Before starting the bath, you may want to let the dog get accustomed to you, and give them a chance to relieve themselves. If the animal is particularly nervous, consider muzzling them and asking a partner to help you. Try to comb out major snarls in the dog’s fur, and trim their nails to keep them from clawing you accidentally. Put a drop of mineral oil in each of the dog’s eyes and cotton balls in their ears to keep water and soap from getting in them. Be sure to remove the cotton balls after the bath! Give praise and treats to make them comfortable in the bathroom before you try to get them into the tub.

Getting Your Tub Ready for a Bath

Dogs are unlikely to get into the tub willingly. For a puppy bath, one person should be able to handle it.  For bigger dogs, a second person to help you get your dog into the bath can help avoid straining your back. Make sure water isn’t too hot or too cold. Let your dog hear and then gently feel the water before going full-speed ahead with the bath. Start shampooing your dog’s shoulders and then move out from there. Be gentle around the face and any sensitive areas but be sure you get down to the undercoat. Read the directions on the shampoo bottle carefully to ensure proper usage. The active ingredient should be chlorhexidine, which is mildly antiseptic. If you must use an insecticide, use a gentle pyrethrin-based shampoo, and be sure to follow the safety instructions on the bottle. Oatmeal shampoos are good for dogs with itchy skin. Rinse out all the shampoo, using your fingers to make sure you get through the undercoat to avoid subsequent irritation. This is where a detachable shower head or bowl comes in handy to be sure bigger dogs get rinsed thoroughly.

Take Care of Your Dog After the Bath

After the shampoo has been completely rinsed out, you can apply conditioner, if desired. Follow the directions on the bottle because some products need to sit on the coat for several minutes. If you have a particularly squirmy dog, you’ll want to find a fast-acting formula. Once you have finished the bath, it is time to dry your pooch. Towel dry as much as possible in the bathroom. For dogs with longer coats, you may want to use a blow dryer set on low. Before the dog leaves the bathroom, brush his coat out thoroughly because the bath will loosen up a lot of fur, which is better contained in the bathroom than all over the house. Many dogs get “after-bath-crazies,” so hold onto your hat and let ‘em run!