Bathing your dog

Splish splash, taking a bath

bathing a dog

A lot of dogs love being messy. Your average dog will happily roll in mud, manure, or miscellaneous dead animals, dashing through grass and soil until they look like they’ve been dragged through a hedge backwards (for some dogs, this might be what actually happened!). A dirty dog will need to be cleaned up, and that means bath-time. Some dog owners struggle to wash their pets, so we’ve put together this guide on bathing your dog.

How often to bathe your dog?

How often to bathe your dog? Well, it depends how often your dog needs to be washed. Healthy dogs will only rarely need a bath (unless they’ve been out and gotten dirty), but dogs with skin conditions will need to be washed more often. Healthy dogs will groom themselves, though long-haired or curly dogs may need some help to avoid tangles. Washing your dog too often can strip away the hair’s natural oils and irritate the skin.

Different dogs have different needs: some breeds or dogs with particular coat types need more frequent grooming and bathing. You should definitely consult a dog groomer or veterinarian for more detailed advice. In general, if you can smell your dog, or they are obviously dirty, he/she needs a bath.

Set up your work station

First of all, set up your bathing area. You can wash a smaller dog in a basin or sink, and a larger dog in a bath or, in good weather, even outside with a hose. Have a towel or a similar non-slip surface for your dog to stand on, as slipping can frighten a dog. Have some towels and dog shampoo nearby; your vet or groomer can recommend a good brand.

Before you put your dog in the bath, brush them to remove matted fur or large pieces of dirt (such as dried mud).

Running the bath  

Make sure that the water is lukewarm, as you don’t want your dog to scald or freeze. Gently place your dog in the bath. Don’t make any fuss, remain patient, and calmly talk to him/her, praising them when they are calm and quiet. Some dogs may be frightened, especially if they’ve never had a bath before, so take your time and don’t lose your temper.

Time for shampoo

Use a shower head (with low water pressure) or a small container to wet your dog. Once your dog’s fur is soaking wet, you can start massaging shampoo into their fur. Start with your dog’s neck, then gradually move down to their body and legs. You can use a small face towel to carefully wash their face and ears (try not to get water in their ears). Once your dog has been thoroughly shampooed, rinse all the suds off, starting from the neck and making your way down.

Drying time

When your dog has been thoroughly rinsed, you can dry them. Most dogs will want to shake the water out of their fur, drenching you in the process, so place a towel over their back. If they still try, you can gently hold their muzzle this stops them from turning their head, so they won’t be able to shake. Use another towel to dry their face.

Once your dog is dry, keep them inside for a while. Dogs don’t like the smell of shampoo, and will probably try to find something smelly to roll in: nice for them, but a nightmare for you!

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