Wet cuddles, soapy dog grins and lots of laughter. Treating your pooch to a bath can be fun, writes Carrol Baker.
Before you begin, collect all the things you’ll need. Realising that you’ve left the dog shampoo in the cupboard when you have a sopping wet dog isn’t a good way to start.
Your bath kit should include fluffy towels, dog shampoo, a brush or comb, a leash and treats.
Rub-a-dub-dub, it’s time for a tub
Bathe a small dog in the kitchen sink, bathroom sink or laundry tub. If your happy hound is a medium or large breed, try the bathtub but be prepared to get very, very wet. Place a rubber bath mat at the bottom so your pooch doesn’t slip and slide in the suds.
If it’s a warm, sunny day, bathing your dog outside is a good option. It’s also a lot less messy if you have a large dog. If your playful pooch is the outdoors type, chances are his fur will need a brush to loosen and remove any dirt. Brushing also removes any knot or mats. If you don’t brush before a bath you could end up with more tangles.
If you’re bathing your dog outside, his first instinct will likely be to run and roll in dirt and leaves, so make sure you have your joggers on and get ready to sprint after him. If you’re not up for a game of catch-me-if-you-can with your playful pooch, you can also secure him with a leash until he is dry.
How often should you wash your dog?
It’s up to you — there are no hard-and-fast rules — but you’ll know it’s high time for a tub if your dog:
• Smells “doggy” or has found something icky to roll in (of course, he’ll think he smells simply irresistible).
• Has come into contact with contaminants such as pollen, bacteria, yeast or fungus, according to Dr Angus Ross from Ku-Ring-Gai Veterinary Hospital.
• Your dog has a skin condition, in which case your vet will advise how often you should bath your pet. Some shampoos have a therapeutic effect on skin ailments and frequent bathing is needed.
Once you have everything you need within reach, your playful pooch is safely secured and you’ve tested the water temperature to make sure it’s not too hot, you’re ready to get washing.
Gently soak your dog in warm water from top to tail. You can use a shower attachment or buckets of water. Be careful to watch for signs that your pooch is going to do the doggy shake and spray water everywhere. The trick here is to look for the mischievous glint in his eye.
Make sure your dog’s coat is well saturated. Try to avoid water running into his ear canal, as this can cause ear infections, says Dr Ross. A wad of cotton wool gently placed in the ears while bathing your dog can help prevent this.
Add a small amount of shampoo to your palm and gently massage it into your dog’s fur. Dog shampoos are specially formulated for a dog’s skin. Avoid using human shampoo or other products as these are generally too harsh and can leave your dog feeling itchy, uncomfortable and more prone to other skin problems.
To ensure the shampoo is well distributed over your pooch, Dr Ross suggests diluting it (one part shampoo and 20 parts water) in a bottle.
Lather the shampoo over and under your dog’s torso and gently wash the head area. If your dog isn’t comfortable with his head being washed, use a warm, wet towel with diluted shampoo. Leave the bottom and genital area until last. Wash and rinse these areas thoroughly as leaving shampoo on can lead to skin irritations. Gently towel dry or dry him with a hairdryer and offer him a favourite treat for being such a good dog.
Some dogs love bath time, while others are less enthusiastic about getting their paws wet. Dogs Life readers share their fun bath stories…
“My Golden Retriever, Benson, loves bath time. He splashes around, wetting everybody, with a big, happy smile on his face. After his bath, we play the towel game — it’s a bit like tug-of-war. He grabs one end of the towel and I grab the other and try to dry him. He often runs off with the towel and I have to catch him again, but we both have a lot of fun.” Mitchell
“Bathing my chocolate Labrador, Emerson, is a lot like a highly organised SWAT team operation. With me positioned in the bath, my husband, Jez, lifts Emerson into the tub. I straddle Emerson and tip buckets of water over him while Jez offers him treats at 30-second intervals to keep him there. We have a big, juicy bone on his mat at the end as a reward.” Dee
“Bath time for Cooper, a Golden Retriever pup, and Labrador Gracie is always a bit crazy at our place. Gracie loves a bath, but for Cooper it’s another story. If Cooper tries to take off, Gracie stands beside him and barks at him. She’s top dog and she lets Cooper know it.” Mark
“I bath my dog, Deeja, a Rhodesian Ridgeback, in a baby bathtub outside with buckets of water. She stands there looking at me with these big, sad eyes. Then I have to tie her up after or she’ll find something horrible to roll in. When she’s dry we have a bit of a wrestle — she loves that part.” WayneYou need to look after your pooch's health - check out our all-new DOGSLife Directory