Is your dirty dog stinking up your house? It might be time for a bath. While it may seem obvious to many how to bathe a dog, there are definitely tips, tricks, and hacks to give your dog a great bath. Keep reading to learn how to bathe your dog properly and most efficiently in your bathroom with less hassle and fuss:
If your dog loves getting a bath, then you are lucky. For those of us who have dogs that don't enjoy getting a bath, there are ways to make bath time a little easier.
Obviously, if you have a dedicated space for bathing your dog or a doggie bath tub, it makes bathing your dog much easier. But if you don't have a few hundred dollars and a few hundred square feet to spare, you can still wash your dog with ease.
The most important goal you have is to build positive associations for your dog with taking baths. Give him lots of hugs, treats and praise to make sure that when he thinks he is going to get a bath, he will grow to like the idea of baths. Try dog-soothing music like Calming Music That Helps Pets Cope with Common Phobias or Through a Dog's Ear: Music to Calm Your Puppy. After awhile, your dog will associate the music with a bath and, hopefully, all the great treats he'll be getting.
To make bath time easier for you, it is really important to make sure your dog is tired before you take him for a bath. If your dog is tuckered out from going for a long walk or playing all day, he will have less energy to struggle or battle with you in the bathroom.
It is really helpful to have someone else help you when you are bathing a dog. So if you have someone who can help, don't hesitate to team up with them when it's bath time.
Here's are some more tips for how to best wash your dog:
How To Bathe Your Dog
1. Pick The Right Shampoo
It is best not to use human shampoo on your dogs. Dog shampoo, on the whole, contains far fewer artificial ingredients, fragrances, and allergens than human shampoos.
For best results, pick a shampoo that works best for your dog's particular needs. The shampoo you choose should be gentle on the eyes, like baby shampoo. If your dog has flees or another skin problem, choose a shampoo that will help treat that. One of my favorite lines of dog shampoos is made by Earthbath All Natural Shampoo. They smell great, are all natural, and work wonderfully. We have a whole article dedicated to the best dog shampoos for dogs with all kinds of skin allergies, sensitivities, and fur types: 10+ Best Pet Shampoos For Healthy Skin And Fur.
2. Brush Your Dog Before Bathing
For best results, brush your dog prior to bathing her. This is the perfect time to check for any potential skin or coat problems, such as fleas, ticks, or rashes. Suspicious skin conditions should be reported to your veterinarian, as they often reflect allergies or insect bites and must be treated.
If you don't brush your dog daily, you may want to consider doing so. It takes only a few minutes and a quick brushing will help keep your dog clean and his fur smooth and untangled. It also really helps with minimizing the dog hair all over the house as well. One of my favorite dog hair brushes is Pro Quality Self Cleaning Slicker Brush for Dogs and Cats. It is one of our top picks for some of the best products for your dog.
3. Prepare The Bath First
Before you bathe your dog, make sure you have all the supplies ready and everything set up. These supplies include shampoo, a large sponge, washcloth, or doggie bath brush, a small bucket or pitcher, and lots of bath towels to dry off the dog, you, and the floors. Once you've gathered all the supplies, place them somewhere where they won't get disturbed by the dog.
Make sure your tub is not too slippery. Your dog needs to be able to comfortably stand in the tub without slipping. If you need to, put down a non-slip bath mat like this extra long one or a big towel on the floor of the tub to make the tub less slippery for your dog.
Next, it's time to fill up the tub. Fill up the tub with about 3-5 inches of warm water.
If you don't have one, a shower hose like the Rinse Ace Shower Sprayer, is a really great investment. It has a long hose and a button to spray water only when you need it. It's inexpensive and it is really helpful at bath time. Highly recommended!
It is usually a good idea to make sure to shut the bathroom door; if you need to use a tub restraint so your dog doesn't jump out of the tub. I have never used the Stay and Wash Bath Tub Leash, but my sister swears by it for her puppy. It costs about $10, reviewers gush about how well it works, and it can be used for dogs up to 90 pounds.
4. Wet And Shampoo Your Dog's Body
Place your dog in the tub and use a bucket of warm water to wet his body fur. Once he's wet, apply the shampoo from front to back, avoiding the head for now. I found that if you premix the shampoo with water together in a empty squirt water bottle, it can help speed up the shampooing process.
Start massaging the shampoo into your pet's fur by scrubbing his back, and then his tail, his back legs, belly, chest, and finally the neck. Massage the shampoo in a circular motion to get him cleaner. If your dog likes this massage, do it more, so that he associates bathing and massage. You can use a washcloth or a shampooing massage brush like this one.
Image by Perry French, Flickr
5. Wash The Head And Face Next
One big goal in washing your dog's head and face is to keep soap and water out of your her eyes, ears, and mouth. I use a lightweight washcloth to wash my dog's face, as it's easiest to control. You can use just a small part of the cloth to apply soap to your dog's head, ears, muzzle, and beard, and massage it into his fur. When doing this, be extremely careful not to get any shampoo in your pup's eyes, nose, ears, or mouth. You can place some cotton balls loosely in your dogs ears to protect them from any water that may get in.
6. Rinse, Rinse and Rinse
If you have a shower sprayer, once your dog is shampooed, drain the tub and use the sprayer to rinse your pet. Hold your dog's nose down while rinsing her face.
If you don't have a sprayer, drain the tub and refill it with clean, warm water. Use a bucket or pitcher to gently rinse the shampoo from your dog's fur until the water runs clean through, and then rinse one more time. To rinse the face, holding your dog's nose down, use a clean washcloth to run water from the top of his head down. Keep refreshing the water on the washcloth and wiping the sudsy areas of her face until all traces of soap are gone. Cover your dog's eyes with your other hand when rinsing from above.
Drain the tub once the rinse water is clean.
7. Dry Your Dog Off Thoroughly
Lay a towel over your dog's back and gently rub him dry. Once the towel has soaked up most of the water, you can use a hair dryer on a cool setting if you need it to help get him dry. Start by drying the thickest areas of fur, and then work out to the areas that aren't as thick. Some dogs will be scared by a hair dryer so try to use the lowest setting and if possible use a really quiet hair dryer like this great one.
I love using microfiber towels to dry my hair after a shower and I also use a good microfiber towel for my dog . If you haven't tried one, you really should. These towels are super absorbent so they take less time to dry the dog and they are not as thick or bulky as normal towels so they are easier to use and more precise. I actually love them so much that I have several of them tucked in a basket by my front door and in my car. I think they are perfect for drying off my dog whenever he gets wet. Remember the better you dry your dog, the less water there will be on you, your bathroom and your walls.
8. Give Your Dog A Hug And Set Him Free
When you are done, make sure to give your dog a ton of praise and some tasty treats so that he loves taking a bath. Then, let him run around the house rubbing himself all over your carpets. That's what dogs do after a bath. If your carpeting is clean, all the better! (If he needs to go out, best keep him on a leash this time. Otherwise, he'll be rubbing himself all over the ground!)
9. Clean Up After The Bath
You and your bathroom will likely look like a hurricane hit your home. I keep some really huge beach towels especially for bath time that I lay on the bathroom floor and then I lay an old king size flat sheet over it to make cleaning up the floors much easier. Just pick up the wet sheets and the towels underneath it and voila, the bathroom floor should look pretty good.
If you have a dog with lots of hair that can clog the drain, think of lining the tub drain before the bath with a baby wipe or used Bounce sheet. You put the baby wipe or Bounce sheet on the drain and plug it up, and when the water drains, you just pick up the sheet now covered in dog hair and throw it in the trash. (via KohchakPuggle)
For cleaning the tub, you may want to put another baby wipe in the drain and rinse the tub with the dog hose or shower. Use a cleaning sponge and cleanser to clean the tub and rinse again. Then you can lift the baby wipe from the drain with your dog's hair attached.
Congratulations, you are done. Now your dog will feel great, and your house will smell a little better. How often should you bathe your dog? That's a good question for your vet, because it may depend on your dog's particular fur type and skin condition.
I hope you find my tips helpful. Please share this post if you do? Also, please share any tips and tricks you may have for bathing your dog in the comments section below.
Originally posted March 2015; revised March 2017
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