It’s a dirty job, but somebody’s got to do it. Used for all kind of tough jobs, the same expression can be used for the task of bathing your dog — and understandably so. The process of shampooing, rinsing and drying your pup while struggling to keep him in place is quite the chore, not to mention all the wetness and the loose hair you have to deal with afterward.
Bathing your dog can be a daunting task, but you’ve got to do it or else you’ll suffer the consequences of having a filthy, smelly dog about.
So while you do technically know how to bathe your dog, what can you do to make bathing your dog easier, more enjoyable and … well … just less of a chore?
Here are eight tips to improve your and your dog’s bathing experience.
Just like how shampoo can be for people, shampoo can have a skin drying and irritating effect on dogs — especially dogs with sensitive skin. Part of the reason shampoo does this is soap not only takes away the dirt and excessive oils from the skin, it takes away the good oils too, leaving the skin dry and itchy. Also, as soap is slightly alkaline, and unhealthy skin tends to be alkaline too, shampoo can make the skin’s pH levels even more imbalanced. This is why when choosing a shampoo for your dog, it is important to select a shampoo that does the dirty work while replenishing your dog’s natural skin moisture and returning the skin to natural pH levels.
What kind of shampoo does that? Look for a dog shampoo with colloidal oatmeal — a shampoo like Soothe-N-Itch Dog Shampoo. The oatmeal not only adds a number of healing and other benefits to the shampoo, it also helps to moisturize your dog’s skin and to normalize high skin-pH levels. With shampoos like this, your dog should find his bath more enjoyable — both during and after the bath.
Especially for long-haired breeds, brushing your pup before her bath removes tangles and matts before adding the water which will only make things worse. The brushing prepares the hair to receive the water and shampoo, making bathing your pup easier, quicker and more effective. It also reduces your post bath clean-up as the brush should collect a large portion of the loose hair in your dog’s coat before the suds and water ever begin. As an added benefit, you’ll also find a pre-bath brushing will leave less hair to clog your drain.
One towel you can place down on the floor of the tub to give your dog something with traction to stand on during his bath. The second towel you can place on your dog in between washing and rinsing and right after the bath to keep him from shaking and giving you, and your entire bathroom, a good soaking. The third towel you can use after the bath to dry Beethoven off before he has a chance to get you and your house all wet.
Just like in the Goldilocks story, make the water not too hot, not too cold, but just right. When it comes to the right water temperature for giving your dog a bath, just think dogs are children but with a lot more hair. Just as how you wouldn’t use hot water, or conversely, cold water to bathe your baby, you shouldn’t do this for your fur baby either. Cold water will likely shock your pup and cause Bear to take a wet, flying leap out the tub. Water that is too hot will likely result in the same, but possibly cause burns and injury to his skin.
So be careful to use a water temperature with which you and Bear are both comfortable. This eliminates the possibility of shock or pain from the water, helping your dog to enjoy his bath more and preventing him from associating bath time with bad memories.
Use a hose-mounted spray attachment for an easier more enjoyable dog bath. If you can, try to find one where you can adjust the pressure or flow rate and pattern. Such an attachment will increase your ease of washing and rinsing your pup as he will be able to stay in one place as you work around him. Further, just as much as you enjoy the skin messaging action of the shower head on your back and shoulders, he will likely too. If you don’t have such an attachment, then consider using a pitcher or small bucket, making the water mobile and allowing you to work around the dog washing and rinsing him.
Be careful with the water, when bathing your dog. Just like how you wouldn’t like someone spraying water on your face, in your eyes or up your nose, rest assured, your dog doesn’t like that either during bath time. Use a washcloth for washing your dog’s face as it is much more soothing and less frightening than running water over his snout and eyes. Also, when running water over his body, be sure to hold his nose and head higher than the rest of his form. This prevents soap and water from accidentally running into his nose and eyes and causing irritation.
With all the sloshing, suds and soap during bath time, tubs are just plain slippery — for you and your dog. When giving your dog a bath, make sure you give him a rubber mat or something else (even a towel like mentioned above) to stand on. Your dog is probably plenty unsure already in the bathing environment, so by giving him a mat, you help him be at least sure-footed which is always a plus, for man and dog alike.
As you well know, dogs love treats. Just like how you may have used treats to train your dog to exhibit certain desired behaviors, you can use treats to help your dog feel more positive toward baths and not so nervous. At bath time, just bring some treats to the bathtub and give some out before, during and after the bath. Your dog may then associate bath time with good times. After a few baths like this, he may be more relaxed when the time comes for his next bath as he will be thinking about his treats.
With these tips, you and your dog will find bath time to be a much more enjoyable and memorable and your house and bathroom less of a mess.
When it comes to bath time for your pooch, treat him like how you would like to be treated if you had four paws, lots of fur and couldn’t speak. And remember he is not a chore or a task, he’s your best friend. So treat him well, give him some treats and the whole bathing experience will be a treat for both you and your pup.
Happy dog bathing!
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