You love your dog – that’s a given – but at times, they’re probably the most gross creature you’ve ever met. From rolling around in poop in the woods to burying dead seagull carcasses at the beach, they don’t do themselves any favours in the smell department.
In these cases it’s smart to stick them straight in the bath as soon as you get home. But how do you know when to give them a bath the rest of the time? Let’s find out.
How often should you wash your dog?
Most dogs only need to have a bath on a monthly basis. In general it’s advised that you should wash your dog at least once every 3 months, and no more than every other week if their natural doggy musk is getting a little ripe.
Obviously if your dog sees a muddy puddle (let’s not pretend they can resist jumping in), it’s game over and they’ll need to have a bath again.
How often you wash your own doggo will depend on the thickness and length of their fur and whether they have sensitive skin.
Try not to wash your pooch too frequently. Cleaning them too often strips away their natural oils which really dries out their coat and can even cause skin irritation. Keep their fur clean and glossy between baths by brushing them for 5 to 10 minutes every day.
It’s also worth bearing in mind that your dog can’t get wet for 48 hours after you’ve applied flea treatment, so schedule baths around that too.
First of all, human shampoos are a no-no – even the gentle baby stuff.
A dog’s skin is much more sensitive than ours so they need a shampoo that’s made just for them. You can get dog shampoos from pet shops, your vet, and maybe your supermarket.
Test a small drop on a small area of your pupper’s coat the first time you use a new shampoo and monitor any reactions. If you think your dog might have an allergy or skin condition, speak to your vet as soon as you can so that they can recommend a specific shampoo or even prescribe treatment.
Bath training for dogs
Starting your buddy off young (if you can) is the easiest way to get them used to the idea of bathing. If they’re not the biggest fan of baths, the best way to ease their anxiety is to associate bath time with positive experiences like treats and play time.
Remember, dogs can read your energy – if you’re nervous, they’re going to be nervous – so act confidently and like bath time is no big deal. Constantly reassure them by speaking in a soothing voice, telling them what a good boy or girl they’re being, and rewarding them with plenty of treats.
Work up to giving them an actual bath by following these steps over the course of a few days or weeks (depending on how much your dog detests being clean):
- Get them to enjoy hanging out in the bathroom by showering them (not sorry) with praise and treats, and maybe playing games in there
- Now that they’re used to the bathroom, run the shower in the background the next couple of times you’re having bathroom funsies
- Once they’re comfortable with this, carefully place them in the bath but make sure the water only runs gently over their paws
- When they’re happy with this you can slowly move the shower up their body – and voila (!) they’re practically having a bath already
If your pooch is still a bit panicky but really needs a bath or if it’s their first time, they might prefer it if you just pour water over them using a container instead of a showerhead. You could also enlist a friend or family member they’re familiar with to lend a helping hand and administer bath time biccies.
How to wash your dog in 10 easy steps
- Plan on getting wet. It’s unavoidable.
- Have everything you need within arm’s reach, including:
– Dog-friendly shampoo
– Small container for pouring water
– Brushes (if you want to brush your dog’s coat while they’re in there)
– A friend
- Reward calm behaviour with treats and praise throughout
- Add water. If you’re not using a showerhead, fill the bath with a few inches of water that isn’t deep enough to reach your pooch’s chest – keep it shallow. Make sure that the water is a comfortable temperature, lukewarm water is ideal. Don’t bathe them in water that’s either hot or cold – you may put them off baths for life and have a hard time getting them back in the tub. If your dog is larger and has to be bathed outside, using a tub and pouring lukewarm water over them is preferable to using a hose – you wouldn’t like being hosed down with cold water now would you?
- Try smearing peanut butter (the dog-safe xylitol-free kind) on the sides of the bath to distract and entertain your little friend while they’re being washed.
- Gently lift your doggo into the bath. Make sure that the surface isn’t too slippery for them – you might need a non-slip mat.
- Work the water up your dog’s body but keep it out of their eyes and ears. Make sure the shower pressure isn’t too strong.
- Add dog-friendly shampoo and give them a good scrub. Avoid the face!
- Rinse thoroughly.
- Gently squeeze water from their fur and pat them down with a towel. Scoop your freshly washed friend out of the bath and continue to pat them dry.
Some dogs get a case of the zoomies at this point. No one really knows if belting around the house helps them release nervous energy or if they’re just so freaking happy to be done.
On warm days they can air dry but in colder months you can help things along with a heater or hair dryer on a low setting to warm them up – just make sure you don’t burn them and that they can move away completely if they want.
You got through bath time pooch parent – treats all round!