9 simple tips to bathing a puppy

Some dogs love water and having a bath, others would rather run a mile away and roll around in the mud. While no one likes the smell of a dirty dog in the house, a half-successful attempt at bathing your puppy can be worse than none at all, as a wet, smelly dog is also hard on the nose – and the rugs. If you have a new puppy or even an older dog, here are a few suggestions from experts on how to give her or him an effective and stress-free bath.

  1. Set the tone: From preparing your puppy to the first few baths, being relaxed yourself and giving your puppy positive feedback throughout the process can help nervous dogs calm down. If you are jumpy and stressed yourself, you dog will sense this and get anxious as well. Expect and accept that the first few times may not go ideally and be ready to laugh about it. Bathing a puppy can be fun for you as well.
  2. Set the scene: If you are giving your dog a bath for the first time, then for a few days get your dog used to the bathing place, the water bucket or tap, and being held in place for gradually longer periods, without actually giving her a bath. Give her treats for coming into the bathroom, for staying in place,
  3. Associate bath time with fun: Your dog may not enjoy being lathered up but she’s more likely to comply if she knows there’s a treat for her after. Make it a habit to treat your puppy after she’s been bathed to doggy treats, a walk or a game. This way she will start to associate getting scrubbed with fun stuff and will be less likely to make a fuss in the future.
  4. When to bathe: Some dogs need a bath more often than others. It really depends on the breed of dog you have and its type of coat. Consult your vet to know how frequently you need to give your pet a bath.
  5. Be prepared: Keep whatever you need on hand before you bathe your puppy. This includes shampoo, conditioner, treats and a towel. A bath mat or a towel laid down on the tiles can prevent your dog from slipping when wet, giving her more grip so she feels secure and less scared. If you need to, get the water ready. Dogs will be most comfortable in lukewarm water.
  6. Prepare your dog: Brush your dog’s coat thoroughly to get rid of knots and excess hair so that it’s easier to shampoo her during the bath.
  7. Lathering up: Shampoo your dog as gently as possible so that she is not hurt in any way during the process. Make sure not to get the shampoo into her eyes, ears, mouth or nose. Use a damp washcloth for those areas. Careful of shampooing her paws on a tiled surface as she could slip. It’s a good practice to wash the water off them quickly after to prevent slipping.
  8. Don’t overdo it: For dogs, there is such a thing as being too clean. If you bathe your dog too often, you run the risk of causing skin irritation and flaking. Again, it is best to consult your vet on what shampoo to use as different coats have different needs and an inappropriate shampoo could lead to skin irritation.
  9. For dogs that hate bathing: Only wash them when necessary. Use alternative methods regularly to keep them clean. For example, brush her daily and use a damp towel to clean dirt off of her fur and paws. “Dry shampoo” is also available. To use it you just apply it to your dog’s coat and then brush her. Rinsing with water is not needed.

Remember, dogs are creatures of habit, so once you establish a routine, it will get easier and your dog may even come to welcome it if there is a reward (which doesn’t have to be food) afterwards.

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