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Learning how to give your dog a bath, especially if your dog gets anxious when they see a tub, can be challenging. But bathing is important for dogs. Not only does it keep your pup smelling fresh and clean, but it’s also important for their skin health.

Here are a few tips to help get through your dog’s bath time with as little stress as possible.

How To Give Your Dog A Bath When They Are Nervous And/Or Anxious About It

If you choose to bathe your dog at home or use a tub at a self-service dog wash, you’ll want to prepare first. This will especially be the case if you know your dog hates bath time. A little planning will go a long way toward making sure the experience is smooth for both you and your pet.

When you bathe your dog, you want your pet to associate it with something they like. You could, for example, give your dog a toy during and after bathing, or give some special treats. You can also calmly talk your pet through the process and say “good dog!”. This may make your pet feel safer.

Make sure you use water that’s not too hot or too cold while your dog is in the tub. You’ll want them to be as comfortable as possible. If the temperature isn’t right, your pup may get scared and try to hop out of the tub. Put a shower mat at the bottom of the tub so your dog won’t slip. This will keep your pet in place and give you better control.
Avoid immediately soaking your dog with running water in the tub. Doing so could increase anxiety. Instead, begin washing your dog with a wet washcloth. Then use some gentle running water over the neck and head. Keep your dog’s nose pointed up so that water doesn’t get in your pet’s eyes.1

havanese dog in towelAfter The Bath

Use a towel to thoroughly dry off your pet once they’re out of the tub. You’ll want them completely dry so use a blow dryer on the cool or warm setting. Just make sure your dog is used to the sound first.

When you blow dry your own hair in the morning, see if you can get your pet in the bathroom with you. That way, it won’t be such a surprise when you use the dryer on your dog’s hair.
Once you’ve completely rinsed all the shampoo and conditioner out of your dog’s hair and have dried your pet, they’re might seem eager to get outside. Before this happens, brush your dog’s fur while they’re still in the bathroom. It’ll be a lot easier to clean up loose fur when it’s in a confined space.2

Afterward, let your dog run outside for as long as they like. If you don’t have a yard, get the leash and take your clean pup for a walk.

How Often Should You Bathe A Dog?

A lot of factors go into determining how often you should bathe your dog. These include how often the dog goes outside, your pup’s coat type, and more.

In general, the longer the coat, the more often the dog will need a bath. But there are some exceptions. Some short-haired dogs, or breeds that don’t have any hair, actually need to be bathed every week to help keep their skin healthy. Most dogs, however, should have a bath at least every four to six weeks, with regular brushing in between.3

If a dog has an active lifestyle, they might get dirtier faster. This will mean more baths. Dogs who are mainly indoor pets may not need to be bathed as often.

Regardless of how often you bathe your dog, do what you can to stick to a good grooming schedule. Regular bathing and brushing will help preserve the natural oils in your dog’s coat, keeping your dog’s hair looking its best. Just don’t do it too often. Bathing too much could actually strip those natural oils from your dog’s skin. If you’re not sure how much you should bathe your pup, ask your vet.4

French bulldog in wash bucket with bath suppliesChoosing Your Dog Shampoo And Conditioner

As important as bathing your dog on a regular basis maybe, it’s just as important to choose the right shampoo and conditioner. Look carefully at the labels of the products you’re considering to ensure you make the best choice for your pet.

There are some ingredients in shampoos that can cause health problems in dogs, such as allergies, skin irritation, or even digestive tract issues. Artificial fragrances in some shampoos or conditioners could cause headaches and nausea. Also, never use human shampoo on your pet. It could cause skin reactions.5

Your best bet will be to talk to your vet before buying any sort of dog shampoo. They’ll be able to recommend gentle, effective products.

When Bathing Is Too Difficult: Call A Dog Groomer Or Know When It’s Time To See The Veterinarian

Even small dogs can be a handful when it comes to bath time. Something as seemingly simple as bathing a puppy can be more than a lot of pet owners can handle. There are also, as you can see, a lot of things you need to consider before you put your dog in the tub.

The bathing technique you use can also differ depending on the breed of your pet. For example, you might have a dog with an extremely long, thick coat that sheds a lot. You’ll need to give your pet’s hair an extremely thorough rinse, and then brush not only after the bath but before it as well.6

Trying to bathe your dog might be more work than you’re willing to do. If that’s the case, there’s no shame in calling a professional. That may relieve a lot of stress, and you’ll know your pet is in good hands. Many groomers will also trim your dog’s nails and possibly even brush their teeth.

afghan dog being toweled off by groomer

How To Choose A Groomer

If you’d rather not wrestle with your dog in the tub, there are probably several groomers in your area who’ll be more than happy to help. How do you choose which groomer is right for your dog? Here are a few tips.

First, talk to any friends or family members who use a groomer. See who they recommend. Talk to your vet as well to see if they have any suggestions. Then make some calls to the groomers you’re considering. Find out what sort of training they have and how much experience they have bathing dogs.

Don’t be hesitant to ask if the groomer is certified and licensed. This is a requirement in many states. If possible, watch the groomer in action to see how they interact with dogs.7

Once you’ve narrowed down your choices, trust your instincts. You’ll be able to rest easy knowing you’ve done the research needed in order to make the best possible decision.

Rub-A-Dub: A Commitment To Your Dog’s Well-Being

Whether you wash your dog in your own tub or take your pet to a professional, it’s important to make sure your pet is bathed regularly. It will go a long way toward keeping your beloved companion at their healthiest and happiest.

Learn More:

How To Deshed Your Dog And Why You Should Always Do It

Tips on How to Calm a Nervous Dog Before Going to the Groomer

Teddy Bear Cut Poodles: How To Pull Off The Teddy Bear Pomeranian Grooming Technique