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How to bathe your dog

Some dogs love the water, while for some the process of having a bath can be a little more challenging. By following our top tips on how to bathe your dog, you’ll be able to keep your canine companion fresh, clean and happy.

How often should you bathe your dog?

All dogs will need a bath at some point. How often depends very much on their lifestyle. Active, outdoor dogs will likely need to be bathed more often than those which are mostly in the home.

We recommend that you bathe your dog around once a month. Some dogs may need bathing more frequently than this but be aware that over-washing can strip away the natural oils which dogs produce to keep their skin and coat healthy. This can cause their skin to become dry and flaky.

Start with grooming

It’s best to brush your dog’s fur before bathing them. This will remove any loose fur and debris from the coat, and also makes sure that any mats or tangles are brushed out, as these will be more difficult to remove when wet.

1. Setting up the bath

Make sure the water is around the same temperature as the dog’s body. Not too hot, not too cold. Aim for the kind of temperature you would use to bathe a young child.

Use something easy to get your dog in and out of, whether that’s your bathtub or a separate tub just for this purpose. It’ll make the bath a much easier experience for you, and will help ensure that your dog doesn’t panic.

2. Getting your dog wet

Wet your dog’s fur thoroughly from the neck down. If you have a hand-held shower head this is a good way to get your dog wet, or use a jug or beaker. Be very careful not to get water into your dog’s ears and also be wary about the eyes and mouth areas. Once you have your dog’s body clean, you can finish off the face and head with a wet washcloth.

3. Apply shampoo

Once the coat is thoroughly wet, gently massage some dog shampoo through the fur, starting at the deck and working downwards. It’s really important to use gentle dog shampoo only and not human shampoo, as this can dry out your dog’s skin and cause irritation.

You can also apply special conditioner to your dog’s fur, to keep it extra soft and shiny.

4. Dry off thoroughly

When the bath is finished, make sure you’ve got a big enough towel on hand for your dog to dry off. Even with the towel, your dog will attempt to dry themselves by shaking off their fur, so be prepared for this and keep the area clear of anything you don’t want to get wet!

5. Using a hairdryer

Some people use a hairdryer on a cool setting to dry off their dog’s fur. This is fine if your dog will tolerate it, but it could scare dogs that aren’t used to it. If you use a hairdryer just be careful with the heat setting to avoid burning your dog’s skin.

Tips for bathing a small dog

The smaller your dog the easier, in theory, bathing should be. If your dog is frightened or anxious at bath time, learn more how to reduce the stress with our top tips for making bath time a breeze.

A small dog can be bathed in a smaller tub or container especially designed for the process. This allows you to choose the area where your dog has a bath, and also makes the process of lifting your dog in and out of the bath much easier.

Tips for bathing a large dog

A large dog may not be keen on getting into the bath, especially if it’s not something they’re used to. It might be easier for you to bathe them in a walk-in shower, if you have one. This will still get your dog clean, but helps you to control the environment and means that you won’t have to try and catch your dog if they jump out of the bath.

Tips for bathing a puppy

The best time to introduce your dog to regular bathing is when they are a puppy. At a young age they have less fear of new experiences and are much easier to train to be calm when bathing and grooming.

Try to choose a quiet time where activity around the home is at a minimum. Avoid times when people are cooking or eating, and limit access for any children until your puppy is used to the bath.

Puppies can be excitable and become easily distracted. It’s a good idea to have some small treats to hand so that you can reward your puppy for good bath time behaviour.

Use a very gentle dog shampoo to avoid drying out or damaging your puppy’s skin, as it can be very sensitive.

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