How to Make Bath Time Easier For Puppies

Your rambunctious ball of fur loves jumping, running and exploring, but he probably doesn't love bathing. To prepare him for the inevitable, you have to first earn her trust, get her accustomed to running water, and use lots of positive reinforcement and affection.

Items You Will Need:

• Treats
• Dog brush
• Dog comb
• Rubber mat
• Floating toy
• Cotton balls
• Detachable shower-spray nozzle
• Tearless shampoo
• Washcloth
• Towels
• Hair dryer (optional)

1 - Teach your puppy to trust you and to get used to being handled. Begin by touching her paws, handling her ears and opening her mouth. Talk in a soothing voice. When she accepts your touching, reward her positive response with praise and a treat.

2 - Get her used to running water when it isn't her bathtime. To avoid wasting water, whenever you've got water running for anyother reason (either filling a wash basin or bathtub), let your pup see and hear it. This will help her get used to the sights and sounds of a running faucet. Also, get her used to the sound of a hair dryer on a low setting without the airstream hitting her.

3 - Always brush your pup right before bathing. If you have a long-haired dog, look for mats or tangles and remove them with a dog comb and dog brush before the bath, or else you'll end up with a matted mess. When you're done, give her a treat so she associates brushing with a reward.

4 - Prepare your bathing supplies ahead of time.
Open the bottle of shampoo so you're not fumbling with it during the bath, and possibly making your puppy nervous by any excess movement. Make sure towel and a washcloth are handy as well.

5 - Place a rubber mat in the bathtub or sink. This will keep your pup from slipping and will make her feel more secure.

6 - Put a waterproof toy in the tub This will help distract your pup's attention, if she is prone to getting nervous. Place your puppy gently into the water and call her attention to the toy.

8 - Put a cotton ball in each ear to protect moisture from entering.

9 - Wet down your pooch using the shower-spray nozzle if you have one. Wet her head last and do so carefully so to not get water in her ears. Don't spray running water directly into her face. Instead, wet a washcloth with water and add a small amount of shampoo. Wipe her face, rinse the cloth and wipe again. Talk to her gently as you wash, praise her for being good and give her a treat.

10 - Apply puppy shampoo by running a line of it down the middle of her back. Lather up the shampoo by rubbing gently. Lather the body, legs, belly area, tail and neck area.

Warning: Don't use human shampoo because the pH is wrong for your puppy. Look for a shampoo that is specifically made for puppies and won’t sting, if it gets in her eyes.

11 - Rinse her thoroughly, making sure to get rid of all traces of shampoo which can irritate skin if left on to dry. Then, gently rub her with the towel. Give her another treat and praise her.

12 - Finally, dry your puppy. If you choose to use a hair dryer (usually for long-haired breeds) hold your puppy securely in your lap, and set the dryer to low or cool -- never on high or on the hottest setting! Constantly move the dryer around so that the stream doesn't blow onto a single area for too long. Start with the rear end and move your way up. Rub, massage, and speak to her gently as you blow dry. If your dog has short hair, air drying is your best bet. Puppies love to run after a bath, which aids in the drying process. Encourage this by praising and cheering as she runs.

By Pauline Gill

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Resources:
Purina: Washing Your Puppy
Paw Rescue: Bathing and Shampooing Your Dog
ASPCA: Groom Your Dog

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.