Six Tips For Giving Your Pet a Bath

If you have a dog, you’re a dog lover or just have experienced the joy of dogs, in general, then you know that there are two types: those who love taking a bath and those who absolutely hate it and will destroy anything in their path to avoid such punishment and torture.

Unfortunately for the latter, dogs need to be bathed.

They roll around in the dirt, love to play with other animals, and sometimes get into messes they really, really, shouldn’t. And because they’re not self-cleaning—their grooming is minimal when compared to other animals—a bath is the only option left on the table.

If chasing your dog around the house as the bath runs in the other room sounds familiar, then we have some tips and tricks on how to convince your pup that bath-time isn’t so bad after all.

Pup getting reading for his bath

Before You Get Started

Before starting the bath, it’s important to successfully prepare for the bath. Here's what you’ll want to do before the shampooing begins:

  • Brush your dog’s coat, especially if he sheds a lot.
  • Protect your dog’s ears by putting in cotton balls.
  • Protect your dog’s eyes by using a protective ointment.
  • Have your towel(s), shampoo, and comb or brush all ready to go.

Six Tips For Giving Your Pet a Bath

Dog in the tub getting washed up

1. Use Warm Water

This may seem obvious, but cool or hot water is not advisable, so something a little warm and comfortable will help your pup feel like it’s an appealing environment to be in.

2. Get a Bath Mat 

Sometimes dogs feel uncomfortable in the bath because they don’t have a lot of traction. They could lose their balance in the slippery tub which means things could get a little anxious.

Buy a bath mat with some traction so your pup can feel like he has more control over the situation and his body when taking a bath.

3. Clean With a Washcloth 

If you don’t have a handy shower attachment that you can control, then use a washcloth. Don’t force your pup to go under the water from the spigot or the shower head as this only causes discomfort and anxiety.

Plus, using a washcloth provides for a great bonding opportunity. If you go gentle and slowly, Fido will see that he can trust you during an otherwise stressful time, strengthening that bond and making this otherwise dreadful time more than just bath time, but a true bonding experience.

4. Offer a Treat 

A great way to get your pup to settle down when it comes to bath time is to offer a treat. This has to be after your dog has successfully gotten into the bath, so he does not confuse his reward with the action he’s performed.

You can also wait to give the treat until after the bath is done.

Consider investing in a stick-on treat dispenser to distract your pup from the bath. If he’s busy licking delicious peanut butter off a wall-mounted toy, then he’ll likely care less about what’s going on around him.

5. Use a Bucket  

Maybe the sheer sight of the bathtub is the root of the problem. After all, Fido may associate the tub with a negative memory.

If the weather is nice, leash your dog up outside and use a bucket of warm water and a couple of washcloths.

6. Go to a Professional Groomer 

If you have deemed the task of bathing at home unsuccessful, then consider taking your dog to a professional groomer.

Groomers work with dozens of dogs every day and know how to handle a difficult bather.

(And don’t worry—groomers will use a muzzle to help avoid any accidental bites.)

Not to mention that your pup will get lots of love, pets, and treats for being so brave and going to the groomer!

Who knows -- maybe Fido will like it so much that he won’t even fight to go next time!

Pet dog getting dried off after his bath

After the Bath

After the bath, help your pup get out of the tub (if he needs it) and immediately follow with a treat for such good behavior.

Use a designated towel for your dog—we all know what wet dog smells like, so this isn’t something you want to use your nice towels for! Next, dry his coat as much as you can, you can even use a blow dryer on a low setting if you wish.

And most importantly, reward him with a serious snuggle session (probably rewarding for you, too) as if to say, “That wasn’t so bad after all, was it?”

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