Bath time can be a lot of fun for both you and your dog — and yes, I’m being serious. You get to spend time together, bond and get clean. (Well, at least your dog does. Your bathroom is another story.)
Unlike cats, dogs need washing fairly regularly, according to Dr. Debora Lichtenberg, VMD. “Most dogs feel better and their coats stay healthier if they are bathed every month or so,” she says.
It’s not always easy to bathe dogs, though. Here are 3 things to avoid to make the experience go a little more smoothly.
1. Using the Wrong Shampoo
Like people, dogs have a variety of needs when it comes to bathing. Some dogs have dry skin, and others have fleas, so what’s the best shampoo to remedy those afflictions? There are a lot of shampoos to choose from, and deciding on one can be a bit of a headache.
Petful contributor Jet Perreault offers this advice: “If you aren’t sure which one to go with, ask your groomer for advice. She will be glad to help, because frequent washing will make her job easier.”
Also, ask your veterinarian. One of the most important things is to not use shampoo manufactured for humans — unless otherwise directed by your vet. Sometimes, says Dr. Lichtenberg, “veterinary dermatologists recommend Johnson & Johnson Baby Shampoo for sensitive dogs.” But in general, human shampoo is not designed to properly clean your dog and may cause skin irritation.
2. Rewarding Too Soon
Training your dog to be on his best behavior can help with bath time tremendously. As with any training, this should be a positive experience — something that makes your dog actually look forward to bath time.
Many people use treats to entice their dogs into the bathroom, but according to Mario Sturm in his book 100 Mistakes in Dog Training, this is, well, a mistake. “After the procedure, your dog should be exceedingly praised and rewarded with a treat,” Sturm writes, “provided that [your dog] endured it in a well-behaved manner.”
If you have a reluctant bather, reward him only after bath time is over, regardless of how cute he looks in the tub.
3. Getting Frustrated or Yelling
It’s hard not to get peeved when you have an excitable dog in the tub who’s getting soap and water everywhere but on himself. Just remember: He has no real idea of why he even needs a bath in the first place.
Be calm and assertive when you need to be, but above all else, remain calm.
In Common Sense Dog Training, Steven Adams writes, “Screaming adds to their excitement, which means their out-of-hand behavior can get even more out of hand. Not to mention, it can scare the hell out of your dog and make him fear training situations…. Stay calm when you get frustrated. Walk away from the situation if you have to and try again another time.”
It’s so easy when they’re puppies, isn’t it? Watch this video:
Sure, walking away from bath time to try again isn’t always a convenient option. In the long run, though, it will help you and your dog learn how to handle baths like pros.
And one more thing: Never try to bathe your dog when you’re short on time. Even the calmest dog can get excitable at bath time, and when you’re running late, this adds to your frustration — making you more likely to snap.
Make baths fun for you and your dog. In fact, why not hop right in the tub with him like I did with my dog? We both had fun, and she came to like bath time because it was time spent with her best friend.