Puppies have their own ideas about personal grooming techniques — which may include rolling around on the ground or rubbing their heads or noses in who knows what.
Every dog looks at bath time in a different way. We humans realize that a bath leaves us feeling clean and refreshed, but not all dogs have that same feeling. Most dogs are not thrilled when it comes to bath time, however many of them do learn to tolerate it.
While bathing helps keep the coat clean, healthy and shining, some breeds need good scrub more often than others. Basically, that depends on how quickly they get grimy. Bathing too frequently will take healthy oils away from the coat and skin, causing itching, scratching and irritation. Brushing daily, on a regular basis, will help keep the clean between baths.
Here at Pets Adviser, we often get asked by first-time pet owners how to give a puppy a bath. Well, it’s not rocket science. Follow the simple instructions in this article, and you’ll be washing your puppy like a seasoned pro.
Giving Your Puppy a Bath, in 7 Steps
The following instructions should help create a harmonious relationship between your canine friend and his caring owner:
- Using warm water (make sure it is not too hot), fill the tub about knee length. Lift your puppy and gently place him — don’t plop him down — in the water. Provide a treat, speak to your pup in a calming tone, and let him smell your grooming tools — the comb, brush, clippers, etc.
- Give him a chance to get used to the water — spraying the water gently on his back and shoulders will allow him to adjust to the feel and temperature of the wet stuff. Take it slow, and keep talking in a reassuring voice. Anything that spooks your pet will only make him more resistant to baths in future.
- Take care not to spray water directly in the dog’s face. Instead, tilt the head so that the water will run down the backside. Use your fingers or a wet washcloth to wipe the areas around eyes, nose and mouth. Do not clean the inner ears, except with guidance from your veterinarian. According to Larry Cohen, DVM, getting water in the ears is a top cause of canine ear infections.
- Now wash the top of the head, the neck and chest, and keep working your way down his back. Going in the direction of head to tail will help wash away any fleas or other bothersome visitors he may have accumulated since his last bath. Don’t forget to provide some more treats along the way.
- Use a shampoo that is specially formulated for dogs. (People shampoos do not have the right pH for pups.) Apply a line of shampoo along the back, massaging the lather down to the skin as you go. Wash each leg and the tummy as you work your way to the tip of the tail. A soft-bristled brush will aid in cleaning around the paw pads.
- Gently rinse your soaped-up pet, remembering to use warm water. First rinse the top of his head and around his eyes, using one of your hands to shield the soap from his eyes. (If some soap accidentally gets in his eyes, it’s not the end of the world, despite your puppy’s squirms. Just flush the eyes out with water and give some extra treats.) Next, rinse the whole body well, until the water runs clear. Kneading the fur with your hand will help remove the suds. Don’t forget those little toes, often neglected, but which need rinsing too. Don’t skimp on the rinsing; this is where pet owners often mess up, and leftover suds can lead to dry skin.
- Gently pat your pet dry with an absorbent towel. Begin the drying process at the head, as a dog is not very comfy when his head is wet. He’ll probably want to do his part by shaking wildly. That is perfectly fine — just be sure he is completely dry before allowing him the pleasure of post-bath running and rolling. Otherwise, all this bath-time magic will have been in vain.
After bathing your puppy, shower him with praise and a few more treats. After all, doesn’t a clean, good-smelling dog deserve the royal treatment?
Other Tips and Tricks
- Take your puppy for a long walk first!
- Bath time should begin before your pet eats. This way, the food can serve as a reward afterward.
- Smaller dogs can bathe in a sink or laundry tub.
- A detachable shower sprayer will prove invaluable.
- Put down a non-slip mat in the tub. This can prevent injury from a slip, and also shield the enamel from scratches.
- Garden hoses outside can shoot out water that is too cold for your pet, particularly during colder months of the year. Young puppies in particular won’t revel in having a hose shot at them.
- To avoid having water roll down into the ears, place a large cottonball in each ear.
- Please be patient and do not yell at your pet if he resists grooming; you’ll just make him hate baths if you do this.
Super-Cute Slow-Motion Puppy Bath!
Have you seen the videos of Iso, the dachshund puppy filmed in slow motion? Here’s a beautiful little video of Iso’s bath time:
- Larry Cohen, DVM: Tips for bathing your dog
- ASPCA: Bathing your dog
- Puppies for Dummies: Making bath time lots of fun