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How to Give Your Dog a Stress Free Bath

 by jaime on 18 Aug 2014 |
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The thought of giving a dog a bath can strike fear even in the bravest of people. And dogs are even less thrilled. However bath time is an important factor in your dog's overall health and wellbeing, promoting hygiene and cleanliness. And you benefit too because no one like a smelly dog hanging around.

If you are having a real problem getting your dog to even set foot in the bathroom, you may need to slate bath time for a later date to first teach your dog to love getting in and out of the bath. For a good few days you can try and stash your pet's favourite treats or toys in the bath. Also, you can turn the bath into a fun game by throwing treats into the tub and watch your dog hop in afterwards to retrieve them. Remember to reinforce positive associations by giving extra treats whilst they are standing in the bath. If you do this a few times, a couple times a week your dog is going to LOVE going in the bath. This is also a good time to get them used to the water and sounds that go along with bath time. Get them used to the running tap, starting at a trickle. Use a damp hand to run over their body and remember to treat them for putting up with it!

Remember to always have a non-slip mat inside and even on the floor of the bathroom.

At this point it's also worth a mention, that if you're not up to the challenge yourself, or don't like the though of your house getting completely soaked then you may need to call in a professional groomer to take care of this task.

You'll need:
  • Clothes you are willing to get dirty
  • Shampoo
  • Conditioner
  • Brush
  • Mineral oil / eye moisturising ointment
  • Cotton balls (for floppy ears)
  • 2 x big absorbent towels
  • Treats
  • Non-skid mat
  • Bowl or large cup (in lieu of a detachable shower head)

How to give your dog a stress free bath
  • Bring all your materials into the bathroom ready for the bath. Make sure everything is close to hand.
  • Remember to check with your veterinarian what shampoos and conditioner (if required) is going to be best for your dog.
  • Trim your dog's nails before bath time. It will protect you and allow your dog to get a better grip on the bath.
  • Make sure you close the door behind you because you really don't want to deal with an escapee.
  • Remember to praise your dog for entering the bathroom - don't attempt to get them in the bath just yet!
  • Give your dog a good brush to get rid of any excess hair and fur.
  • Use cotton balls for each ear to keep the water out and use mineral oil (or similar) to help protect their eyes.
  • If you have a big dog, it is probably best to enlist a second pair of hands to help you out.
  • Start running the bath. Make sure the temperature is a nice even one - not too hot or cold! Get your dog to now get in the bath and remember to treat them for getting to this crucial stage.
  • Starting at the shoulders and moving out, begin to massage in the shampoo. Be extra cautious near the face and other sensitive areas. Massage deeply because you want to make sure you reach the undercoat.
  • Rinse all the shampoo using your detachable shower head or a bowl, and use your fingers to make sure all the soap has been rinsed out, along with any residue which could cause irritation.
  • Apply conditioner if it is required. Don't forget to read the instructions as some conditioners require you to leave it in for a few minutes, but try your best to find a fast-acting one - your dog is bound to become restless during this time!
  • Now the bath is finished, thoroughly towel dry your dog, getting as much of the water off as possible. If your dog has a long coat, you could use a hairdryer on a low setting.
  • Give your dog a nice big brush.
  • Open the door and watch them go mad!

Not so bad after all!

Tips:
  • Never use human shampoo - only ever shampoos made for dogs.
  • Use less shampoo than you need and rinse more than you think you should.
  • Only some dogs need conditioner so check to see if your dog is one of them.
  • You don't really need to wash your dogs face, so you can avoid the area. If you insist, opt for a tearless shampoo.
  • Nails are soft after being in warm water, so you may choose to instead clip your dogs after bath time - at your own risk of course!
  • Schedule bath time before something that your dog loves such as play time or dinner.
  • Make sure your body language and voice is calm and positive.
  • Start bath time practices as young as possible.
  • In preparation for bath time, get your dog used to being handled all over so it won't be such a shock later on.
  • Don't call your dog to the bathroom - they will just learn not to come. If you can carry your dog there or use a leash.
  • You can teach your dog commands like 'get in' and 'get out' so they can get in and out of the bath on cue - especially useful for large dogs.
  • Medium to larger dogs can be bathed in the shower or outdoors in places like a kiddy pool.
  • Small dogs can be bathed in sinks.
  • If your dog absolutely hates baths, only do so when when it's absolutely necessary or use a damp cloth to get rid of dirt.
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