You may need a bath or shower every day, but your dog doesn’t. Even so, dogs do need a good scrub every now and then. Here are a few pointers to making bath time easier for you and your pet:
Start by asking your vet or breeder how often your dog needs a bath. Most dogs do well with one bath a month, but the proper interval can depend on what type of dog you have. Dogs with oily coats, such as Basset Hounds, may need to freshen up as often as once a week, but short-haired breeds may need a roll in the suds less than once a month. Dogs that spend most of their time indoors can often go longer between baths than those that spend a lot of time outside or are prone to rolling in stinky stuff.
A simple sniff test can determine when your dog needs to hit the showers. Malodorous dogs are no one’s best friend.
Many of us have learned to view giving a dog a bath as something of a wrestling match interspersed with chasing. It’s often a difficult task, so if your pooch flees the minute you try to herd him into the bathroom, it may be worth paying a professional to do the work. A professional may also be more knowledgeable about how best to bathe certain breeds. Dogs with double coats, for example, require different care.
Of course, doing it yourself saves money, and there are ways to make the experience more pleasant for you and your pup. Start by brushing your dog to detangle mats. Talk to your dog in a calm and soothing voice. They take their cues from you. You don’t need to fill the bathtub to wash them. Skipping that saves water and avoids loud noises that may make your dog anxious. Use water only as warm as you would use on a human baby. Dogs’ skin burns more easily than humans.
In a pinch, you can use the garden hose, but your dog will be cold, which may make it avoid baths even more. It’s better to keep the bath warm and cozy. Buy a shampoo for dogs. Their skin has a different pH from ours, so human shampoo can irritate a dog’s skin and damage their fur. Gently rub the soap into your dog’s fur. Just applying it and letting it sit is not enough. It needs to be distributed thoroughly. Rinse until water runs clear. Have several towels ready to dry your dog. Try to remove as much water as possible, but skip the hair dryer, which is too hot for most dogs. Hair dryers also scare most dogs, which may make them tougher to bathe in the future.
When you’re done, reward your dog with a treat – such as a favourite snack or a game of tug of war with an old towel.