Bathing your dog isn’t always an easy task, especially for new owners. Some dogs love the water, but others aren’t keen, which makes the process of getting them clean much more difficult!
How often you need to bathe your dog depends on its breed and type of coat. For example, longer-haired dogs and those that are hypoallergenic (dogs that don’t shed their fur) are more likely to get their coats matted or have dirt cling to them, meaning they need to bathe more regularly.
Similarly, if you have a very active dog that doesn’t like sticking to the path on walks and isn’t shy of mud, they will definitely need bathing before they go back into the living room!
Knowing how to bathe a dog properly is essential for owners, so here are some steps to follow if you are going to bathe your dog at home.
Find an appropriate space to bathe your dog
This may sound obvious, but you need an appropriate space to bathe your dog. Even if your dog can fit in the sink, this isn’t recommended unless you want to be cleaning splashes off the kitchen walls.
The bathtub is a good option, but be aware that your dog will probably shake, and if they are very muddy this could make a mess. You can also invest in a portable doggy tub that you could use in a utility room or outdoors if the weather is warm enough.
Brush your dog first
The best way to bathe a dog is to try and clean them up as much as possible and ease any matting by brushing them. This will help them get a more thorough clean once they are in the bath and you are more likely to get out any tangles this way, as well as any dried mud or dirt that would get in the bath.
Use lukewarm water, not hot water
While we humans love a long, hot bath, this isn’t good for our furry friends. Instead, the best way to bathe a dog is in lukewarm water. Water that is too hot will make the experience much more uncomfortable for your dog and may scald them. Similarly, water that is too cold is unpleasant and will quickly have your dog shivering, especially once their coat is wet.
Use dog shampoo, not human shampoo
Human shampoo is not designed for dogs and should not be used on them, as they often contain chemicals that could be an irritant to them. You can buy safe shampoo specially developed for dogs that will clean them up and keep their coat healthy, such as the Be:Loved. Be:Vegan Natural Pet Shampoo Bar, and the PURPLEBONE Oatmeal Dog Shampoo. You should only use conditioner if it is suitable for your dog’s coat and, again, this should be a dog-specific product, not a human brand.
Talk to your dog throughout
Keeping your dog relaxed while you bathe them is important as, if they get too stressed, they will be harder to control and may try to escape the bath and cause a mess. Talking to your dog in a calm voice and praising them throughout the experience will soothe them.
Once you have lathered and scrubbed your dog with shampoo, you need to rinse them off thoroughly with lukewarm water. Because dog fur is so dense, it can easily retain shampoo or suds which will be uncomfortable for them.
Towel them off, then leave them to dry
Once you have rinsed your dog, drain the water from the bath, or get your dog out of the bath and give them a thorough, but gentle towel dry. You can get specific microfibre dog towels or drying gloves, but any towel you don’t mind getting dirty should be ok. Resist the temptation to use a hairdryer, once you’ve towel-dried your dog - they will dry off the rest themselves (possibly by running wild for a few minutes!)
Give them a reward
Once you’ve dried your dog, make sure to reward them with a treat so that they associate the experience of being bathed as a pleasurable one and one they won’t mind repeating. Bear in mind that some dogs will never fully enjoy taking a bath, but the treat does help things, and you’re doing it for their own good!
Knowing how to bathe your dog properly can be difficult, especially for new owners, but if you use dog-specific products, take it slow, and keep encouraging them, you should find it a very manageable (and hopefully enjoyable) task.