Top tips on giving your dog a bath

Rub a dub dub, it’s time for a scrub! For some pooches, bath time is no big deal and they are willing participants as their owners scrub the mud off their paws and belly. For others, however, bath time can be a source of stress and anxiety (for dog and owner alike).

Baths are not only important for keeping dogs clean after a dip in the local park’s mud bath or a roll in some impossibly stinky fox poo, they often form part of a treatment plan for those with dermatitis and other chronic skin conditions.

A normal dog does not need frequent bathing and, depending on the breed, baths every few months are usually enough. Dogs with medical conditions such as atopic dermatitis, usually need to be bathed more regularly than this. Regardless of how often you’re having to plonk your dog in the bath tub, having your dog on board can make the process a whole lot easier.

Here are our Top Tips for making bath time a delight rather than a disaster:

  • If possible, get your young pup used to the idea of a bath from an early age. Convince them that bath time is the best thing ever by offering lots of tasty treats. Make sure to keep the experience short and sweet, before they have a chance to get upset at being restrained. Remember, pups are less able to regulate their body temperature so use warm water and always dry them thoroughly afterwards.
  • Be prepared. Have the bath run, the doggy shampoo at the ready and the towel to hand before the dog has entered the room. An anxious dog won’t have any patience for you faffing around.
  • All hands on deck. Bath time is easier with at least two people helping. One can hold the dog, stroke them and talk to them calmly while the other gives them a good scrub. For larger dogs, two people are often necessary to lift them in and out of the tub safely.
  • Avoid getting water in eyes and ears, just like you would with children. Doing so not only causes discomfort, but can even lead to infections, particularly in those dogs with floppy ears.
  • Consider the use of a food puzzle that sticks to the wall. This may be a treat dispenser or ‘lick matt’ that is slathered in peanut butter or cream cheese. A dog that’s eating hardly notices what is being done to them and is far more tolerant of being scrubbed, trimmed and preened.
  • ‘A poor workman…’. Have all the right tools to hand. For those with dense coats, brush them beforehand with a brush such as a ‘Furminator’. This will reduce matting and prevent their coat becoming waterlogged. If you are using bath time as an opportunity to trim facial and paw fur, have sharp scissors that are easy to hold and manoeuvre.
  • Non-slip mats are your best friend. Dogs hate to slip and slide on the surface of a bath, so a mat that keeps their paws in one place can help give them more confidence.
  • Reward, reward, reward! You really can’t overindulge your dog on this occasion. They should get a delicious snack and plenty of praise for getting in to the bath, for staying still and when they get out. The more positive experiences they have around bath time, the more they will begin to enjoy themselves.