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Bathing Your Dog - Everything You Need To Know

Tim Ryman |

So, the time has finally arrived again… your favourite non-human friend needs a good bath. We know that it’s anything but easy, but hey, aside from getting absolutely soaked, it’s not all that bad really.

Whether it’s something you and your dog enjoy or not, bathing your dog cannot be avoided. It plays a vital role in their health and without doing so, your dog’s skin and coat will soon start to suffer.

Bathing your pet will remove dirt and keep parasites away – failing to bathe dogs can result in them having skin issues, such as fungal and bacterial problems. Plus, bathing them means that your pooch will smell and feel ten times better when clean.

Once you get to grips with the process, it should become fairly simple. In fact, if you follow the simple tips below, you and your dog should start to enjoy the experience. After all, it’s time you’re both spending together, away from the hustle bustle of hectic life and you will find it’s a great opportunity for you and your dog to bond.

How Often Should I Bathe My Dog?

With dogs, there is no one size fits all solution, so it is important that you find out some specific information regarding your dogs breed. There are numerous factors to consider, including skin conditions, fur thickness, activity levels and coat type.

Equally, the environment your dog is in will also play a huge part in how often he or she should be bathed. For example, a working dog who spends the majority of its time outside will require more frequent bathing than a dog who lives inside. If you have a dog that has bundles of energy, meaning they love nothing more than to splash around in huge mud puddles, much to your dismay, then weekly baths may be the only solution.

For dogs that have oily coats, such as Cocker Spaniels, German Shepherds, Basset Hounds and Dachshunds, there may be the requirement to bathe your dog as much as once a week.

Whereas breeds that are short-haired, like Chihuahua’s, won’t need such a high maintenance bathing regime and will cope just fine with once a month.

You may have been told that you dog has skin allergies and more frequent bathing may have been suggested as part of their prescribed treatment. In which case, it’s necessary to follow the schedule your vet has provided because bathing dogs too frequently can also cause skin irritations.

But generally speaking, bathing once a month works perfectly fine for most dogs

Ultimately, the thing to remember with bathing your dog is that it’s just like consuming chocolate. By that we mean that it’s absolutely necessary (especially for chocolate lovers), but too much of anything is bad for you – and your dog!

Preparation Is Key

There are a few things you will need to do before getting to the fun part – by fun, we mean the part where you get absolutely soaked.

Before you actually wet your dog’s coat, ensure that you have thoroughly brushed your furry pal to get any tangles and knots out. If your dog tends to shed quite a lot, it is advised that you do this part outside to avoid getting fur and loose hairs all over the place. Get the right sized brush to avoid any painful tugging.

If you find that your dog’s coat is getting too long or that their fur is shedding all over the furniture in your home, invest in a decent pair of dog clippers so you can trim your dog whenever it is necessary.

Do not wait until your dog is wet to start looking for everything you need – we promise you, you will regret this! Even the most well-trained dogs find it difficult to stay put when in the bath and the moment you turn your back, they’ll be gone faster than you can say “NO!” We suggest you have shampoo, a brush and towels to hand.

Location, Location, Location

Pick a place to wash your dog and stick to it. Once your dog becomes familiar with the process, including where it happens, you should see a reduction in how anxious they get, providing it goes well – which it will if you follow this simple guide.

Wherever you choose, it needs to be suitable for getting wet because let’s face it – there’s no avoiding it. Your dog is going to shake off excess water whether you like it or not, so it makes sense to pick a place that can accommodate this.

The bathtub is an obvious choice, but large wash buckets will also suffice and for smaller breeds, baby baths work perfectly well too. Your dog needs to be able to stand comfortably in whatever you choose to use, so make sure you choose somewhere that enables them space to do that. If you want to keep your own sanitary area free from dog hair, there are portable doggie tubs available.

Ensure You’re Using The Right Shampoo

Just like humans, dogs will need different types of shampoo, depending on their coat. Some dogs are prone to dry skin, whereas others may need treatment for fleas.

If you are unsure about what type of shampoo to use for your dog, especially if your dog suffers with certain afflictions, consult with your vet as they will be able to advise you on what is best to use.

The most important thing to remember when washing your dog is that you should not use human shampoo under any circumstances! Human shampoo is not designed to use on dogs and you will need to purchase a shampoo that is specially manufactured for a dog’s skin. Dog shampoos should be around the neutral range on the pH scale, so look for anything around 7.

It is best to opt for dog shampoo that is free from artificial fragrances and colours. Look for ingredients that are natural skin moisturizers, such as vitamin E, tea tree oil, honey and Aloe Vera.

It’s also worth noting that you won’t need to use shampoo every single time you bathe your dog. Using a quality shampoo every few months will mean that water baths will suffice in between, if your dog gets a little mucky.

How to Bathe Your Dog

Ok, just a few things every dog owner should be aware of before bathing their dog. As we’ve already mentioned, make sure that you brush your dog beforehand. Matted hair retains water which could end up causing irritated skin.

Use lukewarm water as your dog’s skin is a lot different to yours and cannot handle as much heat. Anything hotter than lukewarm may end up burning their skin, so make sure the water is the same temperature you’d use when bathing a baby. Test it on the inside of your wrist if you’re unsure.

And finally, don’t forget to put a cotton ball in each ear to keep the water out – they will help prevent irritation and ear infections.

Reassure Your Dog

Unfortunately, not every dog loves the experience of being bathed. Some dogs will forever be running away the moment you whip out a towel, but you must remain calm at all times and encourage them every step of the way.

A good way to get your dogs to behave is to reward them after every bath. Using treats as a way to reward your dog may actually lead to your dog looking forward to bath time. As with all training for dogs, it is important to create the impression that it is a positive experience.

But don’t reward your dog too early! Enticing your pet into the bathroom using treats will actually do more harm than good. Pet expert Mario Sturm, in his book 100 Mistakes in Dog Training, wrote: “After the procedure, your dog should be exceedingly praised and rewarded with a treat, provided that your dog endured it in a well-behaved manner.” Only ever reward with treats after the bath and not any time before that.

Equally, do not shout at or berate your dog. Most dogs will become rather excitable when it is bath time, so do your best to remain calm, but assertive until the very end. 

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