Washing your dog is as important as washing yourself, especially if your little best friend likes to frequent the house from time to time. But it is not all plain sailing giving your animal a bath, which is why we have given you a list of helpful tips to help you through bath time.
Introduction to the bath:
Start off easy. Introduce your dog to the bath first and foremost. The last thing you want to do is throw your dog into a bath full of water and hope for the best. The likelihood is that you will scar it for life and have it associating the bath with a bad time.
First tie your dog to the bath or the end of the bath and begin using positive association. This is when you mention words such as toy and treats which will excite your dog. Eventually it will connect bath time with treats and playing, meaning it won’t bolt for the door everytime you mention the word bath.
It is useful to start your animal off in an empty bath. Let them spend a short period of time in the bath while you give them treats and play with them and their toys. This again reinforces the dogs believe that a bath is a good thing, through positive association. As always repetition is key, keeping your dog to the same schedule is always good. Eventually you dog would get used to and be expecting its bath at 4pm on a Wednesday for example.
Protecting the ears/eyes:
When bathing the dog the water should always only be a bit warm, this is because the average dog temperature is slightly warmer than humans and they have high quantities of hair.
When washing your animal make sure to avoid getting water in their ears. If this happens it can be very uncomfortable and can lead to health problems. Provided your dog lets you, cotton balls can be put into the dog’s ear, this avoids any excess spray of water becoming trapped in the ear.
The eyes should always be avoided if possible. Its best to clean around the eyes simply with just water. The shower head is a good way to wash away any excess dirt, without annoying your dog too much. Dog’s like us hate shampoo in their eyes, therefore eyes can also be cleaned before hand. This can be done using a damp cloth.
To have any hope of getting your dog to a stage where it doesn’t dread taking a bath, you should start the process young. The younger the better, as the saying goes “start as you mean to go on”. The younger they are when you start, the less chance of them having a fear of the water or baths.
Picking the correct shampoo is vitally important. Should you pick a cheaper one or one with a strong chemical smell then your dog may become itchy or not want to go near the bath. Try and pick a shampoo which won’t dry your pet’s skin out. These shampoos can be more expensive, but are worth it. They can be purchased at any pet shop, one should be advised against buying cheaper ones which are available in Ireland’s many ‘pound’ shops. If unsure or your animal has a reaction to one type of shampoo, then consult your vet. The Pet shop workers will also be able to advise you on the appropriate ones.
The ideal type of shampoo is mild soap, as these not only clean the dog but don’t strip away important oils which give your dog’s coat it’s shine.
The washing process:
You should always begin washing your pet from the neck down. This is to keep your dogs ears safe and its eyes and mouth. Washing from the top ensures that the dirt is pushed down off the body. It is always better to work in sections. Again the shower head can be used as it makes it easier to wash away any dirt or shampoo. Ensure the water pressure and heat is not too high though, otherwise your mutt won’t be happy.
Once you have washed from the top down, including the legs and belly of your dog, all that it now needs is one final rinse before it’s ready to dry. It is important to rinse the shampoo thoroughly, to prevent itching and dry skin.
Drying your animal:
A lot of people use blow dryers to dry their dogs after a bath, though some dogs are frightened of the noise. This can take a while for your dog to get used to, but once you find the appropriate temperature and distance away from your dog it should be happy to let you do it. Blow drying ensures any remaining surface dirt is removed, while it will also ensure your animal is fully dry.
Another option is the use of a towel. If doing this ensure you use a very absorbent towel, specialised pet towels can be purchased in most pet stores. When using a towel the dog can become restless, as it takes time, and will want to shake off any excess moisture.
Washing your dog can actually be a pleasurable experience for your and your pet. Give your dog time to get used to the whole process and again reward it for good behaviour with treats. Positive association is the key to you and your pet enjoying bath time together.