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How to Give Your Dog a Bath: Keep Your Dog Safe in the Bath

Updated on April 24, 2016

How to give your dog a bath

How to give your dog a bath
How to give your dog a bath | Source

How to Give Your Dog a Bath Safely

A bath or a shower is not the most popular past times for dogs. Dogs often get distressed at the sight of a towel, and even more reluctant to enter the bathroom. Being the proud owner of two dogs I know that bath time is certainly not a favorite time for either one of them. On a more positive note there are many things you can do to turn bath time into fun time for your dog.

My dog Gonzo in the bath
My dog Gonzo in the bath | Source

Dogs in the Bath

Dogs love to play so turning the bath time experience into fun time is a good idea.

My little dog Gonzo loves to have his Kong toy with him in the bath. It makes him much less stressed and seems to distract him from the unpleasant task ahead. Unfortunately Gonzo does need a bath quite often as he suffers from a slight skin disorder after an episode of neglect in his earlier life.

I put a small piece of cheese into his Kong toy and that quickly focuses his attention on the Kong toy instead. Before I even attempt to put Gonzo in the bath I make sure his toy is there for him, and then I put Gonzo in the bath.

My other larger dog Sadie prefers to have her squeaky toys in the bath with her. She is rather large but once in the bath with one of her squeaky toys in her mouth she is quite happy. It might be annoying to me but she stands in the bath and squeaks her toy until the ordeal is over.

Check Your Dog's Teeth

Take the time to check your dog's teeth when he is in the bath. It is a good idea to try to brush your dog's teeth once a week. Always buy a soft tooth brush, and make sure it suits your dog's mouth. If your dog is a small dog, you would be okay with a child's tooth brush. You can buy special doggie tooth paste, but I use tooth paste from Weleda. Human tooth pastes are not suitable for dogs, and you should not use them. Herbal toothpastes are great but do not use any tooth pastes containing extract of Tea Tree. Many dogs are sensitive to Tea Tree and it should be avoided at all times.

How to Keep Your Dog Safe in the Bath

We often forget that dogs can just as easily slip or fall in the bath, and this can naturally lead to injuries. Keeping our dog, or dogs, safe and comfortable in the bath is just as important as turning bath time into fun time.

Falling or slipping while in the bath can lead to the same type of injuries in dogs as in humans. Fractured hips and even spine fractures on larger dog breeds are not than uncommon, and both painful and costly. They can easily be avoided by planning ahead.

1) Bath mats – invest in a bath mat which is large enough for your dog to stand on.

2) Run the water and make sure the water is at the right temperature. A sudden blast of too cold or too hot water might make your dog jump.

3) Dog shampoo – try to rinse away dog shampoo from underneath your dog’s paws as you go. Dog shampoo can easily make the surface your dog stands on slippery.

4) If your dog is very worried about standing on strange surfaces, place a towel in the bath for him or her to stand on.

5) Set the water on a gentle setting. Water coming out too quickly or forcefully out of the shower head may be unpleasant.

6) Talk to your dog whilst he is the bath. It is to forget to talk to your dog during bath time but it certainly helps to calm my Gonzo down.

7) Be prepared – make sure the shampoo is at hand and a towel is nearby for the all important toweling down.

8) Hold on to your dog. A hold on the front of the chest seems to be appreciated if your dog is a nervous bather.

9) Use a shampoo which is not too heavily scented. Shampoos with too much scent can irritate your dog’s skin and his eyes.

10) Clipping your dog’s nails or trim his coat in the bath may be an unnecessary extra. It is always best to get the bath over with first of all.

11) If you want to do some grooming let your dog sniff any grooming tools and the shampoo bottle as well.

By following these very easy tips bath time should become more enjoyable for your dog and easier for you.

The Right Shampoo for Your Dog

Dogs just like humans can be sensitive to ingredients in certain shampoos so buying the right shampoo is important. There are many good shampoos on the market but it is important to buy the right shampoo for the purpose. Also there are many different sources to buy your dog shampoo.

Many supermarkets sell shampoos, pet shops and veterinarians are good places to buy shampoos as you can get professional advice.

The Internet is becoming a popular source for dog shampoos, and there are many smaller manufacturers which offer both an excellent service and high quality natural products for your dog’s bath time. Buy a gentle and natural dog shampoo for your fury friend. Don't try to use washing up liquid or human shampoo on your dog. Dogs' skin can easily become irritated and that could mean an expensive visit to the vet.

Rewards or Little Treats

Little treats and rewards do have their place as well. Getting a small reward can make the experience of having a bath much more acceptable for your dog, and most dogs do associate food or a treat with pleasure.

I always have some small snack and treats to hand just in case. Giving your dog a treat at the start of the bath and at the end of the bath is a nice way to reward him or her. Home made dog treats are great as you can control what goes into them, but there are lots of good commercially produced dog treats as well.

Top things to remember for doggie bath time

Most Important
Less Important
Correct water temperature
Bath mat
Grooming Scissors
Goggles for you
Wet suit for you

Top Tip

The experience most dogs dislike is the rinse off, but they don’t seem to mind being shampooed too much. Whilst you shampoo your dog treat him to a nice little massage by taking your time, and massaging as you go along.

Some dogs are even scared of running water so let him sniff the shower head and gently touch one part of his body with the water first of all whilst you reassure him in a calm voice it is okay.

How to trim your dog's nails

How to Deal with the “Shake Off”

This is probably your dog’s favorite part of the bathing experience, and it is a good idea to try and reinforce this behavior and his enjoyment of it. Do be prepared to get wet if not soaked.

When you dog shakes tell him he is a good boy and allow him time to have a good shake. Try to turn this into fun time or play time by playing with the towel and letting your dog roll around with the towel on the floor. After the shake off give your dog a little treat and praise him or her.

Nice Clean Boy

Nice clean dog
Nice clean dog | Source

Finally out of the bathroom

Yes, it can be tempting to let your dog out into the garden but the problem is that the first thing a dog will do is to run around and perhaps even get dirty again.

I find it is better to take my dog for a walk to let him distress, taking your dog for a fast paced short walk will let your dog relax and the anxiety of the bath experience will soon be forgotten.

By planning ahead and allowing time for your doggie’s bath, the entire experience can become more pleasurable and enjoyable for both dog and owner.

Turning bath time into fun time should be a positive experience for both dog and owner, so why not turn the experience into play time.

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    • Healthyannie profile image

      Annie Messeri 3 years ago from Spain

      The one thing I have learned about bathing dogs is that they like to be entertained.

    • rebeccamealey profile image

      Rebecca Mealey 3 years ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA

      Gonzo looks like he enjoys his baths. Thanks for the tips! I like the idea of the gong and cheese. I'm sure my dogs would approve!