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How to Bathe a Dog - A Really Large Dog

Updated on August 31, 2013

Avoid the perils of dog bathing!

Today I’m going to teach you how to bathe a dog. More specifically, I’m going to discuss giving a dog bath to a really BIG dog. As many of you know, I have two Great Danes, and they hate getting dog baths! All we have to do is say the word “bath,” and these two giants run for cover. The mere mention of the b-word, and they’re trying to squeeze their tremendous proportions under my bed. Unfortunately, dog bathing is an important part of dog grooming, so it must be done occasionally.

If you have a petite pooch, you probably already know how to bathe a dog, right? Believe me – when you have to bathe a dog the size of a pony, it’s a whole different strategy! This is especially true when the dog in question is uncooperative. By following my dog bathing advice, you’ll hopefully save yourself a lot of headaches.

"Rut-roh! Did someone say the b-word??"
"Rut-roh! Did someone say the b-word??" | Source

Supplies needed for dog bathing


Before the dreaded dog bath begins, you’ll need to have all the proper supplies. This will make your job a bit easier. The following table will tell you exactly what you need, and the purpose for each item:

Needed items

1 hot summer day 
to prevent discomfort for dog and humans 
3 big, strong adults 
for handling big, strong dog 
2 dog leashes 
for controlling big, strong,uncooperative dog 
2 dog collars
for attaching the leashes
large supply of dog treats
to divert big, strong dog's attention
1 water hose
good quality dog shampoo
for cleansing fur and skin
1 medium-stiff bristle brush
for gentle scrubbing
1 small bucket
for diluting dog shampoo and for rinsing
1 washcloth
for washing face and ears
5 large beach towels
for drying dog and humans
"Umm, I'd love to take a bath, Mom, but I can't get up! Err...Tristan is holding me down. Yeah, that's it!"
"Umm, I'd love to take a bath, Mom, but I can't get up! Err...Tristan is holding me down. Yeah, that's it!"

Steps for the dog bath

1. Choose the right time for the dog bath. Many large dog breeds are subject to a serious condition called “dog bloat.” This usually occurs when a dog is too active shortly after eating. Of all dog breeds, Great Danes are the most susceptible to bloat, so we always schedule the dog bath when the boys’ tummies are empty. Besides bloating, vomiting can occur when the dog gets nervous or agitated soon after a meal. Great Dane vomit is voluminous, and it’s not fun to clean up.

Also important in timing the dog bath is the weather. Obviously, you’ll want to wait for a hot day to bathe a dog. This is not only for the sake of the dog, but for you, as well. You’ll wind up getting wetter than the canine.

2. Coax the dog to an outside area that’s near a water hose. If the said dog has heard the b-word, you’ll likely need lots of doggie treats to accomplish this.

3. The dog needs to be wearing two collars so that two leashes can be attached.

4. Once the dog is in position, your two human helpers come into play. Each should have a leash firmly in hand – one on the left of the dog’s head, and the other on the right.

5. The third person – that’s you – should wet the dog all over, using the hose. This is generally the most crucial moment of the entire dog bath experience. It’s when the pooch comes to the full realization: “Oh, crap! I’m about to get a BATH!”

Should the dog become agitated, nervous, or otherwise intractable, one of the helper-handlers should quickly offer the dog a treat…or ten. This is no time to worry about proper dog nutrition. Give it what it wants! Our Great Danes prefer peanut butter sandwich cookies. Whatever snack your large breed dog enjoys the most, be sure to have a good supply on hand.

6. Once the dog is thoroughly wet, apply shampoo to a small section of fur. With large breed dogs, it’s best to work in one section at a time. I usually start with the tail and work my way up, one side at a time. Use the brush to gently scrub each area. When an area has been scrubbed, rinse it thoroughly before moving on to the next.

7. When the entire dog body has been scrubbed and rinsed, it’s time to do the head. DO NOT USE THE HOSE FOR THIS! Instead, dilute some of the dog shampoo in a small bucket of water, and use a washcloth to clean the ears, around the eyes, and the muzzle. Rinse the washcloth out well, and dip it in clear water to rinse away the dog shampoo from the facial areas and the ears.

8. When the dog has been completely bathed, give it a final overall rinse. It’s important to remove all the dog shampoo residue.

9. Using two large towels, dry the dog thoroughly.

10. Use the other three towels for you and your two helpers.

"Save me, girls! Don't let them take me alive!"
"Save me, girls! Don't let them take me alive!"

The dog bath aftermath

After the tortuous dog bathing is over, your furkid will be so relieved that it will erupt in joy. This is often in the form of the "zoomies." The dog runs through the house, often in circles, with wild enthusiasm. In the case of a Chihuahua or a Yorkshire terrier, the zoomies are cute. With a Great Dane or other giant dog breed, however, the zoomies can be dangerous. Home décor can get shattered, furniture can get broken, and people can get hurt. Stay out of the way!

If you and/or your assistants are psychologically shaken by the experience of the dog bath or the zoomies, lie down for thirty minutes, with your feet elevated. If you and/or your assistants were physically injured in the dog-bathing process or the zoomie session, assess the injuries as best you can. In the case of a protruding bone or profuse bleeding, call 911 immediately. Minor injuries can usually be treated at home with a fist aid kit.

If no physical or emotional harm was incurred by any human during the dog bath or zoomies, praise the dog lavishly for being such a good boy (or girl). Give the dog an extra treat or two while uttering the word, “bath.” This will positively reinforce the experience, and the canine will learn to associate “bath” with getting treats. Such positve reinforcement is important in dog training. Perhaps next time you’ll need only one assistant.


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