Blog by Irene Hislop
Dogs love to get mucky. They jump in canals and puddles. They run through mud. And they roll in things we don’t even want to know about! And while they generally love water outside, most dogs absolutely loathe the bathtub. That leaves pet owners wondering how to give the dog a bath with minimal upset. These tips won’t make your dog love bath time, but they will make it easier for both of you.
The easiest way to bath a dog is actually to give them a shower. This is easier still if you have a stand-alone shower and don’t have to use one in a bathtub. A hand-held shower nozzle is essential for washing your dog. Your dog will get cleaner with a shower because you’re able to rinse all the shampoo out. One key reason dogs hate baths so much is because tubs are slippery. You can make the experience much less scary for your dog by using a rubber mat to help them keep their footing.
What You’ll Need to Wash Your Dog
The best way to clean your dog is to make sure you have everything you need in easy reach before you get started. Here’s a list of the essentials.
- Dog shampoo.Human shampoo is harmful because it will dry out their skin, leaving it cracked, flaky and vulnerable to infections. It is more acidic than dog shampoo, and that breaks down the dog’s natural protection against fleas and ticks – their ‘acid mantle’. We have some favourites from Foran – check out Tender and Tearless or our Soothe and Sensitive for the more allergy prone pups out there.
- Treats. This is an occasion for bribery and plenty of it! Use a low-calorie training treat to make this as rewarding as possible for your dog, like Leader treats, with fewer than 3 calories per treat. (And no, your dog will not find being cleaner rewarding. In fact, they will look to roll in something vile as soon as possible!)
- Towel. As soon as a dog is out of the bath or shower, they’ll shake to dry themselves. But you can help the process and protect your house by patting – not rubbing – them dry. Some dogs will tolerate a hair dryer on the lowest heat setting.
- Rubber Bathmat – This will help your dog stay steady on their feet and not slip.
It’s best to wear some old clothes and expect to get wet and messy yourself while washing your dog. If your dog is large and/ or likely to resist the bath, it might be a two-person job.
Before Your Dog’s Bath (or Shower)
Always brush your dog before getting their fur wet to ensure there are not mats. It helps to remove any loose hair too. Giving their nails a trim will help them avoid slipping. You can do this the day before.
Once your dog is in the bath or shower, the job is simple. Wet their fur with lukewarm water. Shampoo them being careful not to get water into their eyes or ears. Start at the back of the head and work across their back. Don’t forget their belly and legs. Rinse them thoroughly. It is generally easier to avoid their face in the bath and clean it separately by combing their fur and using a wet washcloth. And that is how to bath your dog!