When your precious pups are smelly, it's time for a bath. It doesn't have to be a struggle, though. If you're prepared with everything you need and use lots of enthusiasm and reinforcement, bathing time can be a great bonding time.
Acclimation begins long before actual bath time. During the first weeks leading up to their bath, spend some time getting your dogs used to the idea of a bath. Begin by touching your dogs' paws, handling their ears and opening their mouths. Talk in a soothing voice. Give them treats when they accept your touches.
Bring each dog into the bathroom and place him in the tub. Talk to him and give him a treat. Take him out of the tub. Do this routine for a couple of days. On the third day, turn the water on. Let it run for a few minutes. Give your pup a treat and take him out of the tub. Do this again for a few days.
Step 1 - Look for mats and tangles in your dog's fur. Loosen the tangles with your fingers, then brush out. For mats, use a dog comb to loosen the edges of the mat. Once loosened, brush out the rest of it with a pin brush, being as gentle as you can so as not to cause pain. Praise him for being a good boy and give him a treat. (If the mats are too difficult to work out on your own, it's best to hold off on home-bathing for now and make an appointment with a groomer.)
Step 2 - Prepare your area. Place a rubber mat in the bathtub so your pup doesn't slide. Open the bottle of dog shampoo so you don't have to fumble with it later. Grab a large towel for after the bath and a washcloth for his face.
Step 3 - Gently place your dog in the tub. Put a cotton ball in each ear.
Step 4 - Turn on the water and adjust the temperature to lukewarm. Using a shower-spray nozzle, wet your dog from the back to the front. Wetting the head last will avoid your dog shaking his head and getting you wet before you even begin. Don't spray water directly into his face (instead, use a washcloth to wet his face), and make sure the water doesn't go in his eyes. Once he is saturated all over, take your washcloth and add a small amount of shampoo. Wipe down his face, concentrating on particularly dirty areas. Rinse the washcloth and wipe his face again.
NOTE: If you find that your pup has fleas, wet the head FIRST so the fleas travel down the body and not up to the head. Then, make sure to provide safe and effective flea treatment for your dog afterward. Consult your vet for options.
Step 5 - Begin washing his body by running a line of dog shampoo down the middle of his back. Add some water and lather him up. Work slowly as you praise your dog in an enthusiastic tone. Work the hindquarters, tail, hind legs, belly area, shoulders, neck, front legs and top of head. Make sure you work the shampoo down to the skin.
Step 5 - Now, rinse it all out. Begin from the top of his head to the back. Rinse until the water runs clear and then rinse again. It's important to get all the shampoo out of his fur! Once you are done, praise your pup and give him a treat.
Step 6 - Wrap him in a towel to soak up as much of the water as you can. If you have a long-haired dog, don't vigorously rub his fur because it can cause it to tangle. Let him air dry or use a dog dryer.
By Pauline Gill
About the Author
Pauline Gill is a retired teacher with more than 25 years of experience teaching English to high school students. She holds a bachelor's degree in language arts and a Master of Education degree. Gill is also an award-winning fiction author.