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❶ Buy Shampoo & Other Supplies
Use a dog-specific shampoo or a baby shampoo to prevent suds stinging their eyes. We recommend you use a hypo-allergenic and all natural shampoo to reduce potential skin irritations and dryness. Have a rubber or non-stick bath mat handy for the tub keeps them from slipping and sliding too much (both inside and outside the tub). Also, have cotton balls ready to gently place in their ears to block water out.
❷ Don’t Forget To Brush
This step can easily get overlooked. Before bath time, prep your pup by giving them a thorough brushing to get rid of tangles and excess hair. Need a brush? You’re in luck, we’ve recommended the best dog brushes for you.
❸ Pick A Spot (& Stick To It)
Wondering how to bathe a scared dog? Consistency is critical when it comes to keeping your pet clean and calm. Bathing can be uncomfortable, so having a place they are familiar with will ease their fears or at least let them know what to expect.
A lick pad is a great way to get your pup to sit still during a bath. Just stick the pad to the side of the tub or countertop (if your dog bathes in the sink) and add peanut butter. This combo is sure to keep your pup distracted and entertained, so you can focus on cleaning.
If you live in a smaller apartment, a bathtub with a handheld shower sprayer is sufficient. If your dog is small or a puppy, you could also use the sink. There are special tubs just for bathing dogs, but if you are already tight on space, this might not be a good option.
Have an outdoor area and live where the temperature to bathe dogs outside is warm year-round? Then outside might be a better option, but make sure it’s on a flat, sturdy surface like concrete or a deck, so you’re not counterproductive washing them in the muddy grass or yard. A kiddie pool can double as an outdoor doggy spa too.
❹ Gather Before You Lather
Once your pup is wet, you’ll have your hands full so having everything you need nearby is necessary. Set aside a clean towel, cup for rinsing (if need be) and treats for afterward (or during for good behavior). Never leave a dog unattended in the tub, and if you’re outside, make sure your dog is contained or on a leash.
❺ Some Like It Hot: Water Temp Matters
“Can I bathe my dog in cold water?” is a common question we hear. Lukewarm to slightly warm water is ideal. Never use scalding hot water as it can burn your dog’s skin. Think of what would be good for a newborn baby or a small child. Not too hot, not too cold.
❻ Clean From Bottom To Top, Rinse From Head to Tail
Follow the instructions on the shampoo bottle, then lightly lather the soap in a circular motion paying particular attention to their paws and other places prone to dirt. Start with their feet and work your way up to their face last.
This will stop soap from dripping into their eyes and ears as well as cut down on shaking. Rinse starting from the head and work your way down until the stream is clear. This helps the shampoo wash down and away from their sensitive spots.
❼ Towel (Or Blow) Dry
Covering your pup in a towel retains heat and also lessens the chances of them shaking water all over you (and your house). If it’s cold, or your dog has long hair that takes longer to dry, you might consider using a dog blow dryer to speed up the process.
❽ Make It Fun!
Are you trying to figure out how to give a dog a bath that hates baths? Make it enjoyable! Bathing can be a bonding experience for both you and your dog.
Take baby (or puppy) steps introducing them to water and working up to a full bath. Don’t take the plunge right away. Be patient and be gentle. If your dog senses you are stressed out they will be too. Make sure you reward with treats and show lots of love and affection.