Does the thought of giving your dog a bath make you cringe? Does the phrase “bath time” make your dog run and hide? It doesn’t have to be that way.
Changing up your routine a little bit can make a world of difference in improving the entire bath time experience for both you and your dog. Eventually, your dog can learn that a bath is a rewarding experience, and you can enjoy bonding with your dog instead of struggling with him and ending up frustrated and exhausted.
Here are 9 ways to improve bath time for you and your dog.
#1 – Buy the right shampoo
Humans and dogs have different pH levels in their skin, which means that even the gentlest baby shampoo can irritate your dog’s skin. If your dog experiences even minor skin irritation every time they get a bath, they will come to resent the entire bathing routine. Always make sure to use a shampoo that is designed specifically for dogs. Hypoallergenic shampoos like our Project Paws™ Deodorizing Shampoo are the least likely to bother your dog’s skin and usually contain fewer fragrances to upset his sensitive nose.
#2 – Before the bath…
If you just scoop your dog up and plop him in the bathtub, you’re likely missing some important parts of the grooming routine and possibly making the bath itself more stressful for your dog.
Start with a walk. Taking your dog for a nice long walk before a bath should tire him out and make him less likely to fight the grooming routine. Including a long walk as part of your regular bathing routine can help both of you relax during the bathing process now that you have healthy doses of endorphins traveling through your bloodstreams.
Brush your dog BEFORE washing him. Any mats, tangles, or areas packed thick with undercoat will only become worse after the bath. Before a bath, you’ll want to make sure you brush or cut any mats out of your dog’s fur and brush out as much of your dog’s undercoat as possible. Not only will that make your dog’s bath more effective and less damaging, but it can mean less of a mess for you to clean up after the bath.
Trim his nails. Did you know that overly long toenails can affect your dog’s feet and gait and lead to painful arthritis? Even if your dog hates having his nails trimmed, it’s a crucial part of the grooming experience.
Clean his ears. A good ear cleaning routine not only keeps your dog’s ears healthy, but it can help you spot an ear infection before it becomes severe. After you’ve cleaned out your dog’s ears, put a piece of cotton in the ear canal to prevent water from getting in during the bath, which can lead to an ear infection.
Brush his teeth. Good dental hygiene is crucial for your dog’s overall health. Did you know that neglecting your dog’s teeth can actually lead to blood infections and organ failure? You should brush your dog’s teeth every day, but before a bath is a great way to complete all of your dog’s grooming routines at once. Use a soft-bristled toothbrush and toothpaste formulated for dogs, since human toothpaste is toxic for dogs.
Gather your supplies. Have you ever put your dog in the tub and gotten him wet, only to realize you forgot the shampoo? While you go grab the shampoo, your soaking wet dog hops out of the tub and gets water all over your entire bathroom! Make sure all your supplies are gathered before you start the bath.
In addition to shampoo and towels, you should consider including the following tools:
-A non-slip mat or towel on the bottom of the tub to prevent your dog from slipping. The feeling of slipping and being less in control of his legs can make your dog panic, so make sure he has a way to stand securely in the tub.
-A sprayer or pitcher for gently rinsing your dog instead of trying to force them under the faucet or shower spray.
-A piece of steel wool in the drain to help catch hair so that it doesn’t clog your plumbing.
#3 – Stay calm and positive
Our dogs are extremely attuned to our emotions. If you start to stress out about the thought of bathing your dog, he will pick up on your stress and become anxious himself. Staying calm and treating bath time as a rewarding experience will help your dog to relax and realize that bath time isn’t so bad after all.
#4 – Make it rewarding
Using plenty of treats, praise, and play time before, during, and after the bath will help your dog regard the experience as a good one instead of something horrifying. Consider giving your dog a special long-lasting treat (like a bully stick) after every bath that he gets no other time. Once he learns that he gets this special treat after every bath and only then, he will be more likely to tolerate the bath. Smaller treats given during the bath will help your dog enjoy the process even more. If your dog prefers play over treats, then a long session of playing with their favorite toy after the bath will work, too.
#5- Use lukewarm water
Dogs don’t enjoy steaming hot showers like we do. Water that is too hot or too cold will make them uncomfortable, so make sure it’s just a little warmer than room temperature. Also, make sure to start getting your dog wet by their feet and moving slowly up to their face. You wouldn’t want somebody to surprise you with an unexpected blast of water to the face, so don’t do it to your pup, either.
#6 – Rinse well
Leftover shampoo will irritate your dog’s skin and cause itchiness and flakiness. Even after you think you’ve rinsed all the shampoo out of your dog, keep rinsing for a few more minutes just to be sure.
#7 – Avoid using a hot hair dryer
Hot air will dry out and irritate your dog’s skin, so if you use a hair dryer, make sure to use it on a cool setting. Better yet, invest in a dryer designed specifically for dogs. Not only will it use cool air, but it helps blast water off your dog for a thorough dry that will also help blow out loose hair.
#8 – Practice makes perfect
As you implement all of these tips, your dog will start to learn that baths aren’t so bad after all. Will he immediately love baths the first time you try these tips? Probably not, but with time you should both find bath time to be a much better experience.