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the Dog Blog

Good, Clean Tips: How to Give Your Dog a Bath

A parent washing his dog after learned how to give him a bath.

Even the best dogs need a bath every now and then. Whether your furry friend decides to roll in the mud or has gone a while without a wash, a good bath can help you keep your dog nice and clean.

Some dogs just love to jump in the bath while others are a bit intimidated about the whole experience. It’s important to practice good dog grooming habits, so here are some dog bath tips to help you and your dog prepare for the next time he needs a wash.

Get the Right Equipment for a Dog Bath

You’ll need to gather some supplies to prepare for bath time. Some of the basic items you’ll need include:

There are a couple additional items you may want to consider. If you’re bathing your dog in tub with a drain, your favorite furball’s hair can clog up your pipes. A piece of steel wool can catch stray fur to help prevent potential plumbing problems. You may also want to add something on the bottom of the tub to give your dog more traction. Bath time can be stressful, so a non-skid rubber mat or even wet towel can prevent your dog from panicking after a slip.

Pick the Right Spot

In addition to bathing supplies, you’re also going to need a good place to bathe your dog. There are a few options you can choose, but the size of your dog can help narrow down your search for a good bathing spot. A small dog may fit perfectly fine in a deep sink or a stationary tub. A bigger dog is going to require the use of a bathtub, a shower or an outdoor tub.

Different spots have various advantages. A bathtub with a handheld sprayer can make it easier to rinse off your dog, but you can always use a cup to pour water over your dog to rinse off any soap or other residue. A plastic dog bath can be used outdoors so that your house doesn’t get wet, but that won’t always work in bad weather. Each option has its benefits, so identify which spot makes the most sense for you and your pooch and move on to the next step. You can also check in your local area to see if there are any “dog wash” locations. This allows you to rent a tub in a dog-friendly place that helps to make bath time easy.

Acclimate Your Dog to the Tub

Once you’ve identified the right place to bathe your dog, it’s best to get your dog acclimated to that space. A bath-time wrestling match does neither you nor your furry friend any good, so it’s important to go through a few dry runs first.

Call your dog to your tub of choice and either have him get in the tub or place him in there so that he can get used to the area on less stressful terms. You’ll want him to have positive thoughts about this space, so get some toys and play with him a bit before rewarding him with a few Bil-Jac dog treats. After a few successful sessions, your dog should be more prepared for bath time.

Prepare the Bath

Once you’ve got all the supplies you need – along with appropriate clothes for you – it’s time to get his bath ready. There are a few steps you’ll want to take to make sure that your furry friend’s bath time goes as well as possible.

Keep everything within reach

Remember those supplies we mentioned earlier? You want to make sure that all those things are easily accessible while your dog is in the tub. The last thing you need is to move to grab the shampoo and have your soaking wet dog make a daring escape into the living room. For that reason, make sure everything you need is placed nearby so that it’s easily accessible while you bathe your dog.

Brush your dog before the bath

Dogs have a lot of hair, which can lead to tangles or excess hair trapped in their fur. A thorough brushing can help you work out any mats and remove loose fur ahead of time so that you don’t have to deal with them while your dog is wet.

Prepare the water

You might like the sound of a nice, hot bath, but that doesn’t mean your dog will enjoy it. It’s best to aim for lukewarm water so that your dog doesn’t get too hot. Depending on your dog, you may want to fill the tub ahead of time. Rushing water can make some dogs more nervous, so using the water at a trickle or filling the tub ahead of time can keep them more at ease.

If using a tub or bath, it’s also important to not fill the tub too high with water. The water should be about as high as your dog’s knees so that it doesn’t get too close to his face.

Wash Your Dog

Now that everything is ready, it’s finally bath time. Once your precious pooch is in the tub, you’ll want to follow a few guidelines to thoroughly clean your dog without any discomfort.

Wet your dog

You’ll want to do more than just have your dog stand in the bath. It’s good to gently soak your dog’s coat for when you apply shampoo. Use a handheld sprayer or cups full of water to completely wet your dog, although try not to spray or splash your dog in the face. For that, you can use a wet washcloth to make sure you avoid his eyes and ears. Depending on your dog, you can use cotton balls to help protect your dog’s ears – just remember to take them out after bath time is over.

Clean from tail to head

You don’t want shampoo to get in your dog’s eyes, ears, or mouth, so it’s good to lather up your dog from the bottom on up. Start by applying shampoo to your dog’s feet and legs and massage it into their fur in gentle, circular motions. Continue this process from his hindquarters all the way up to his head. Once everything is properly lathered, carefully rinse off your friend’s head first before moving on to the rest of his body.

Dry off your dog

Once all the shampoo is rinsed off, you’re nearly done. However, you’re going to want to thoroughly dry off your dog, because nobody needs a dripping-wet canine traipsing around the house. To do this, you’re going to need a few good, absorbent towels.

You’ll want to lay a few towels on the floor or ground next to your tub to catch any dripping water. You can dry off your pooch in the tub after the water drains, but having him move to the towels can help his feet stay dry. You’ll also want to drape a towel over your dog. Wet dogs naturally try and shake the water off, so a draped towel will help discourage that behavior and soak up some moisture. Finally, you’ll use one or more towels to dry the rest of his body off depending on the size of your dog and how furry he is.

Don’t let him go right away

Once your dog is dry – or as close to dry as you can get – you can let him move away from the tub. However, you don’t want to let him go completely free just yet. Your dog may still have an urge to shake off any remaining water, so you can choose to keep him in a space like a laundry room that won’t be negatively affected by a few stray water droplets.

You also don’t want to let him run around outside right after a bath. The last thing you want is to have a slightly-damp dog roll in the dirt or rub up against whatever else he finds in the yard. A quick post-bath timeout can help him completely air dry to help prevent any immediate need for another bath.

Reward Your Furry Friend

After everything is done, it’s important to make sure your dog knows that baths are a good thing and that he did a good job. In addition to providing him a few treats throughout the bath, make sure to reward him right after you’ve dried him. A few treats at different points can positively reinforce that baths are a good thing, and that your dog is a very good boy for cooperating. The more consistently you groom your dog, the more accustomed and relaxed your dog will be at bath time.

After the bath is done, you’re all set – at least until the next time your dog needs a bath. In the meantime, join our Best Friends Club to receive other special tips and informative articles on how to care for your dog, as well as members-only discounts on Bil-Jac products.

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