Do you want to learn how to bathe a dog without causing him undue stress? Follow the step by step guide below to learn how to bathe a dog like a professional and make bath time a fun experience for your pooch.
You can purchase a grooming tub if you choose, but this is not necessary as you can wash your dog in your bathtub – and if it is a small dog, a sink or laundry trough will do – just ensure that you use a non-slip rubber mat on the bottom to prevent your dog from slipping around. This will make him feel more secure and will make him feel less inclined to jump out and bolt, and will prevent him from slipping and injuring himself. To make washing and rinsing easier, it is advisable to use a hand spray attachment that fits onto the taps of your bath or sink. Large (and small) dogs can be bathed outdoors using a portable bathtub or a hose in hot weather.
Make Bath Time an Enjoyable Experience
If you have a puppy, or have never bathed your dog before, it is advisable to get your dog accustomed to the bathtub or sink beforehand. Place your dog in the bathtub or sink without running any water a couple of days before you plan to wash him. Give him his favorite toy or a treat to nibble on so that he associates the experience as a fun thing to do. Repeat this again the following day, but this time add a little water and the sponge/wash cloth that you plan to wash him with, so that he can get used to these surroundings.
Bathing: Equipment & Supplies
Gather all the necessary grooming supplies, making sure that you have all the tools that you will need to bathe your dog on hand before you place him in the bathtub. This way you will not have to leave your dog unattended in the bath while you go and fetch something you forgot.
The following is a basic list of equipment needed to bathe a dog – check that you have all that you need beforehand:
- A pH-balanced dog shampoo – an all natural dog shampoo, luxury organic dog shampoo, or a natural organic flea shampoo for dogs is recommended.
- A pH-balanced conditioner for dogs (or a natural dog shampoo conditioner in one).
- Cotton wool – to plug ears
- Bath brush and/or sponge
- Cotton swab
- Towel/s – make sure the towel is large enough for your dog
- Hand spray attachment or showerhead attachment (optional)
- Rubber anti-slip mat (optional)
- Hair-dryer (optional)
- Bathing noose (optional)
How to Bathe a Dog: Step-by-Step
IMPORTANT: Before you bath your dog it is essential that you have thoroughly brushed out the coat to remove any loose hair and to ensure that it is free from knots and mats, which will only get worse if they get wet.
It is imperative that you handle your dog gently when bathing so that he learns to enjoy being bathed rather than dread these occasions. Once your dog is free from tangles you can proceed to bathing, following the steps outlined below:
Step 1: Place balls of cotton wool in your dog’s ears to ensure that water does not enter the ear canal when you are washing him. If water gets into your dog’s ears it can cause a painful ear infection, so rather take precautions. Don’t push the cotton wool too far into the ear, as this could damage the ear drum.
Step 2: If you have a long-haired dog that has a long fringe you can either trim the fringe beforehand, or use an elastic hairband to tie it up so that you can clean the face and around the eyes successfully.
Step 3: Gently place your pet in the bathtub, sink or grooming tub; or restrain him if bathing outdoors.
Step 4: Begin with the head and face – preferably using a soft sponge or damp cloth and dog shampoo of your choice, gently wash the face, avoiding the eyes to ensure that shampoo doesn’t burn your dog’s eyes. If you own a breed with facial wrinkles, make sure that you clean between the folds using a soft damp cloth.
Step 5: Rinse the shampoo thoroughly from the sponge/cloth, then wipe over the face and wrinkles (if present), removing any traces of shampoo from this area.
Step 6: Move onto the body. Use tepid water that is not too hot for washing your dog. First, using the hand spray attachment, wet the dog’s coat all over, cupping your free hand over the shower spray head to direct the water onto your dog’s coat. Avoid spraying water directly onto the eyes, nose and ears. If you don’t have a hand spray attachment you can fill the bathtub with tepid water to a depth that reaches between halfway up the dog’s legs to its belly, but no deeper; then wet the coat by pouring water over with a jug.
Step 7: Apply the dog shampoo of your choice, working up a frothy lather as you wash the entire body and tail. Take care to avoid the eyes, the nose, and the mouth. Dog shampoo will burn your dog’s eyes, and he is not in a position to grab a towel to dab it away.
Step 8: Rinse the dog’s coat with a stream of clean water, squeezing the soapy water out with your fingers. Ensure that all traces of shampoo are rinsed off the coat as soap residue can cause skin irritations.
Step 9: Once the shampoo has been thoroughly rinsed out the coat, apply a pH-balanced coat conditioner, working into the coat with your fingers. Then rinse off the conditioner in the same manner as above, as traces of conditioner can leave the coat tacky and can also cause skin irritations.
Step 10: Squeeze out excess moisture from the coat with your hands and fingers, then wrap your dog in a large towel to blot the moisture from the coat. If you should notice any traces of shampoo or conditioner in the dog’s coat, rinse him again. If not, continue to briskly towel dry him to remove as much moisture as possible.
Step 11: Stand back and let your dog have a good shake – just try to avoid getting drenched yourself.
Step 12: If it is warm outside, you can let your dog dry outdoors in the sun – just make sure that he can’t roll in sand and get dirty all over again. Alternatively, you can dry him with a hair-dryer indoors. For larger dogs or long-haired breeds, a hair-dryer designed specifically for dogs is recommended, as these are more powerful. For smaller dogs and short-coated breeds a hand-held human hair-dryer will suffice. Never use the hot setting on the hair-dryer as this can damage the coat, and may even burn your dog’s skin.
Step 13: Brush through the coat to remove loose hair as your dry, or if the dog has dried naturally, give him a good brush over once he is dry.
If your dog has a particularly sensitive skin that is prone to flaring up if you use harsh conventional dog shampoos on his coat, you may want to consider using a mild soapless shampoo, such as DermaPet DermaBenSs Benzoyl Peroxide Soapless Shampoo or DermaPet DermaBenSs Soapless Shampoo with Moisturizers. A soapless shampoo for dogs is typically a pH balanced natural shampoo that usually contains benzoyl peroxide, sulfur and/or salicylic acid as well as herbal ingredients and added moisturizers to condition the coat.
A soapless shampoo for dogs is specially formulated to flush dirt and bacteria from the hair follicles and is recommended when treating your dog for hot spots, skin irritations, oily skin, skin infections, and other skin conditions.
Application is similar to conventional shampoos: simply wet the dog’s coat then apply the soapless shampoo; let is stand on the dog’s coat for between 5-10 minutes, then rinse off thoroughly to remove all traces of the shampoo.
Final Bathing Tips
If your dog is nervous during the process of being bathed, talk to him softly to calm him down and reassure him, praising him for good behavior.
If your dog is flighty, you may need to restrain him with a bathing noose to prevent him from jumping out of the bathtub. However, if you restrain your dog, you must never leave it in the bath unattended, as he could strangle himself in his efforts to break loose.
Featured Image by prinsipe boobooy, via Flickr