How to Bathe Your Dog
For a lot of us, bathing our pets ranks somewhere between getting a root canal, and sitting in traffic. The second she sees you reach for the shampoo, your dog summons bionic strength to fight like a roman gladiator. Toenails claw against the inevitable. Eventually, bubbles fly and water trickles down the bathroom walls. At the end of it, you have a clean, happy dog, but you’re worn out like a Bombay rickshaw driver, and the bathroom looks like a crime scene. But what if bathing your pet could be as fun as a trip to the dog park? Or at least as fun as the company picnic. Follow these tips and bath time can become something you’ll both look forward to!
Remember when your parents coaxed you through an hour of Sunday school with the promise of blueberry pancakes with whipped cream afterwards? You can also use positive association to train your dog to see bath time as something good, and the earlier you start, the better. A puppy is a clean slate, too young to have negative associations about anything, which makes positive association training easier for younger pets. Use treats, toys, and affection to call your dog to the tub or wash basin, and continue to reward her once she’s there. Repetition is key, and you can even start without water in the tub.
Brush Before Bath Time
Does your bathroom ceiling look like a wet carpet after you bathe your dog? Are you on a first name basis with the plumber? Before you even reach for the shampoo, give your dog a good brushing to remove dead hair and any mats. This will make bath time more efficient, and minimize cleanup afterward.
Rinse from the Neck Down
Not only is water in your dog’s ears, eyes and mouth uncomfortable for him, but it also poses health risks. Plus, splashing his face and head with a hose isn’t going to do anything for positive association with bath time. Instead, use a bucket, or gentle spray to rinse your dog with lukewarm water from the neck down, and be careful to avoid getting water around his ears. If possible, place a large cotton ball in each ear to help protect them, and use a damp washcloth to gently clean his face.
Choosing a Pet Shampoo
The right shampoo is everything. Remember when your friends stopped comparing your ‘do’ to an 80’s mullet when you finally listened to your stylist, and switched to that new moisturizing shampoo? And while human shampoos aren’t toxic for dogs, many have fragrances that can irritate your dog’s skin. Your vet can help select a professional pet shampoo for your dog that gently cleanses or treats skin conditions, while preserving her coat’s essential oils. Besides, the last thing your dog wants is itchy skin after a bath, and if she could talk, she would politely explain that she isn’t really a ‘wild cherry blossom and coconut’ kind of girl anyway.
Professionals and DIY dog washing salons use special blow dryers that gently dry your dog’s coat, but at home, a good rub down with a towel is the way to go. It may take some time before bath time becomes fun, and wrapping things up with the hand held equivalent of a jet engine may not create the peaceful vibe you’re looking for. Just be ready for that inevitable head to tail shake-off!