Giving your dog a bath is one of the best ways to keep it looking and smelling good. Long-haired dogs, in particular, benefit from a thorough cleaning at least once a month. Here are some tips on how to bathe your dog without it turning into a wet, soapy struggle.
1. Avoid a wrestling match. Never wrestle with your dog to give it a bath. Gradually acclimate your dog to the concept of a bath by placing it in the tub when it's dry and then giving the dog a treat if it calms down. Repeat the process several times until your dog is completely comfortable sitting or standing in the tub. Then, follow the same procedure by adding a little warm water to the bottom of the tub. Keep praising and offering treats when your dog is calm. You want bath time to become fun for your dog. Be patient at all times.
2. Brush up. Before you give your dog a bath, be sure to thoroughly brush and comb your dog's coat to remove any tangles that could get worse once they are wet. Brushing your dog before a bath will also help remove loose hair that could clog your drain.
3. Pick the right tub. Always use a tub that is large enough for your dog and provides solid footing. Don't try to squeeze your Labrador into the kitchen sink, and always be sure there is a rubber mat on the bottom of your tub to keep your dog from slipping and become fearful.
4. Wet and wash. Wet your dog down with lukewarm water and apply a pH-balanced shampoo designed especially for dogs. If you have a handheld sprayer, use it to gently soak your dog's coat. Avoid spraying your dog in the face. It's best to use a wet washcloth around your dog's muzzle and eyes. Then, use your fingers to massage the shampoo through the entire coat.
5. Rinse and condition. Thoroughly rinse away all the shampoo from your dog's coat, and then apply a conditioner designed for dogs. (If your dog has a short-haired coat, a conditioner might not be necessary.) Many dog conditioners will help prevent future tangles and will keep the coat moisturized. Never use shampoos or conditioners designed for people.
6. Rinse again. After applying the conditioner to the entire coat, rinse, rinse, and rinse again to remove all traces of the shampoo and conditioner before you dry your dog. Soap and conditioner left on your dog will dry its skin.
7. Dry time. Once your dog is rinsed clean, remove it from the tub and rub it down with dry towels. You can also use a blow dryer designed for dogs as long as it doesn't frighten your dog.
8. Wait for the shake. No matter how much you dry your dog, it will still want to roll around on the carpet to dry itself. So, be sure your dog is in a room where you won't mind a little moisture on the rug or the walls if it decides to shake away excess moisture.
9. Stay indoors. Don't let your dog outside for several hours after a bath. Otherwise you run the risk of it rolling in the dirt and grass to dry off, basically ruining all your hard work. Plus, if the weather is cool, you want to prevent your dog from getting chilled.
10. Brush when dry. Allow your dog's coat to thoroughly dry before attempting to brush it. Combing or brushing a wet coat can be painful to the dog.