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6 Dog Bathing Tips

Giving a dog a bath isn’t always fun. Not all dogs like to be bathed. And even those that do can make the process so messy you loathe doing it. To help you make bathing your dog an experience you both love, we’ve rounded up our best dog bathing tips.

1. Make Bathing Your Dog a Positive Experience

Some dogs take to water like a duck, others not so much. If your dog falls into the latter category, there’s a good chance you’ll encounter some resistance when it’s time to wash your dog.

To make life easier for both of you, teach your pup that baths are rewarding. Have him smell the grooming tools, like the brushes and shampoo bottle. Let him sniff the water nozzle and hear the water flowing. Throughout the process, reward him with praise or even treats.

Puppy’s first bath? Skip the shampoo the first time. Only use water and a rag to get him used to being wet.

Make sure you reward and praise him after the bath as well. Teach him to associate being clean with extra love and cuddles or getting to play with a favorite toy.

Some dogs may never lose their fear of baths. If your pooch displays signs of extreme stress during bathing, consider adding a calming supplement to his diet a few days before the planned bath.

2. Reduce the Mess

There are no two ways about it. Dog baths can be messy, but a little preparation can make a huge difference. Even something as simple as closing the door puts a limit on how far the mess can reach into your home.

Use a spray nozzle, especially if you have a large dog. It’s much easier to keep the water close to your dog and pointed in the direction you want.

Brush your dog before her bath. Trying to get the tangles and mats out during the bathing process will result in lots of fur down the drain. And who’s got time for cleaning dog fur-clogged drains?!

Keep large, absorbent towels on hand. Your dog is going to want to shake himself when the bath is done. If you can beat him to it, holding a towel up while he shakes can minimize how much outside the bathtub gets wet.

3. Choose the Right Tools for Your Dog’s Bath

Using the wrong tools when bathing a dog can make the entire process moot. Choose the wrong shampoo and you might make your dog’s curly coat more matted instead of less. Or dry out her skin instead of moisturizing it. Or you might not be doing much at all. For instance, a double-coated dog like a Golden Retriever or German Shepherd needs a shampoo designed to get through to the undercoat. Using a shampoo that doesn’t do that is simply a waste of time.

The most important rule of thumb when choosing a shampoo: never use human shampoo on your dog. Your pooch’s skin has a different pH balance than yours. Your shampoo, no matter how natural or fancy, will dry out her skin.

Choose a shampoo and conditioner that matches your dog’s coat type. For instance, some dog breeds need a shampoo that has oils in it. If you’re not sure what your pup needs, ask your vet for recommendations.

If your dog has any specific skin conditions, you might need a medicated shampoo.

4. Don’t Skip the Dog Conditioner

Ok, if you’ve got a Doberman (or similarly short-coated dog), you can probably skip the conditioner (though it does leave behind a beautiful shine). But if you’ve got a dog with a longer or curlier outer coat or thick undercoat, don’t skip the conditioner.

Conditioners helps soften and detangle your pup’s fur, making brushing easier on everyone. Many conditioners also help moisturize your dog’s skin, as well.

5. Don’t Skimp on the Rinsing…

One of our most important dog bathing tips is this: If you think you’ve rinsed enough, do it again. It’s important to get every tiny bit of shampoo and conditioner out of your dog’s coat. Shampoo residue can irritate your dog’s skin, plus she might lick it off, which can lead to an upset tummy.

6. … or the Drying

Air drying may work for you on a warm summer day, but you never want to let your dog air dry. Even just a little bit of moisture left in your dog’s fur or skin can cause problems. Complications that can result from leaving moisture behind after a bath include fungus on his paws, ear infections, hot spots, and matted fur.

Always have plenty of absorbent towels on hand to ensure a thorough drying session after your dog’s bath. And remember, as you move on to different parts of your dog’s coat, sections you’ve already dried may be wet again. Always go back and check over areas you think are dry.