Keeping your pets clean not only improves their appearance but also means that living with them is more comfortable and enjoyable, particularly if you have someone in your household who suffers from allergies. Regular grooming is important in getting rid of excess dead hair, surface dirt and keeping their coats in good condition but over time, all pets will need a proper bath to get rid of accumulated dirt and unpleasant odours.
Dogs seem to be experts at making themselves as dirty as possible, whether it’s wallowing in dirty puddles, tracking through mud, snagging twigs, leaves and grasses on their coats or – worst of all – rolling in something disgusting. Some breeds also drool copiously, adding more mess to themselves and their surroundings.
Pre Bathing Tips
Some dogs love water and will enjoy the bath but others may fight you every inch of the way. If you start early and get your puppy used to baths, the whole process will be less traumatic on both you and your pet. Use food treats to reward your pup and talk gently and soothingly to him during the process – he will soon associate bathing with good things and will learn to look forward to the event.
Always use a calm manner, gentle movements and a soothing voice and don’t physically force your dog to do anything, such as getting into the tub – instead, use food treats to lure and bribe him. Remember to dress appropriately (or undress!) so that you are not distracted by worrying about your clothes getting wet or dirty.
It is easiest to wash your dog with a shower attachment or a hose with a spray nozzle; however, you can also wash your dog in the bathtub by filling it with several inches of warm water – enough to wet your dog but not enough to frighten him with being submerged.
Washing your dog in the kitchen sink may not be a good idea, due to hygiene reasons, particularly if you are using a flea shampoo. Always choose a spot that is free from draughts, both during the washing and also during drying afterwards.
Before starting, make sure you thoroughly groom your dog as brushing out all the dead hair and tangles will make washing a lot easier. When knots and tangles become wet, they may mat and become impossible to remove. It may also be a good idea to put cotton balls into your dog’s ears to protect them from water. Put down a rubber mat for your dog to stand on, so he doesn’t slip and panic, and make sure that you have collected all necessary equipment, like shampoo and towels before hand. Test the water temperature before wetting your dog and make sure that it is comfortably lukewarm.
Wet your dog thoroughly before adding shampoo – this is easiest with a shower attachment or spray nozzle but you can also do this by scooping up water with a container. Many dogs dislike their faces being wet so you can avoid this and just clean their faces later with a damp cloth.
When you are sure that your dog is wet to the skin, apply the dog shampoo in small amounts all over his body, starting from between the shoulders at the back of the neck and working your way down towards the tail. If your dog has short hair, use a circular, rubbing motion to work up the lather; if your dog has longer hair, rub in the direction that the hair grows and take care not to tangle the hair and form knots as you are working.
Don’t forget to also lather the underbelly, chest, legs and tail – give special attention to the area between the paw pads and under the nails, where mud and grime can collect. You can also carefully lather the area around the ears and under the chin but be careful not to get any soap into the ears or the eyes.
Rinse your dog thoroughly, using fresh, warm water (always test the temperature first). You may have to rinse several times if your dog has a heavy coat, to make sure that all traces of soap residue have been removed. Hold the shower or spray nozzle (or water container) with one hand and knead the coat with the other.
As you squeeze the hair, if you see bubbles, this means that you will need to keep rinsing. Any residue left in the coat can not only cause skin irritation but possibly even poison your dog if he licks himself.
If your dog is particular smelly, try rinsing him with a solution of vinegar or lemon juice (just a small amount) mixed with water. Baking soda is also a good thing to try and it will also leave your dog’s coat softer and shinier.
Finally, squeeze as much excess water as you can from your dogs coat and then towel dry your dog thoroughly. Short-haired dogs will usually dry naturally quite quickly afterwards, if you leave them in a warm, draught-free area. For dogs with long hair, you may need to help with a hair-dryer. Make sure that you only use the “Medium” or “Low” setting and always lay the nozzle parallel to the skin, so that it blows moisture off the hair, away from the skin. Blowing in the direction of hair growth will also help prevent tangles. Be careful of pressing the nozzle too close to your dog’s skin as this may burn him. If you are gentle and calm and introduce things carefully, many dogs learn to enjoy the drying process and the pleasant feel of warm air from the hair dryer.
There is a bit of a myth that dogs should only be washed once a month. In fact, you can bathe your dog as often as once a week, providing that you use a good-quality, gentle shampoo especially designed for a dog’s coat, that you rinse all traces of shampoo thoroughly from the coat and that you dry your dog well afterwards.