Bathing a dog sounds simple enough at first until you actually get to try it, especially for the first time. There are many things that can go wrong and, depending on your pooch, often will go wrong, turning into a complicated process.
But there's an easy way to bathe a dog, and that comes from preparation and knowing what to expect, and I also have some unique bathing items to recommend that you probably haven't heard of.
1. Getting Your Dog Ready for a Bath
If this is the first time you're bathing your pup, then you need to make him comfortable within the bathroom environment, and familiarize him with tools you'll be using: towels, shampoos, faucets or anything else.
The best way to achieve this is to train your puppy as you would train him for anything else.
Simply let your dog smell and touch the items with his nose, and reward him with a treat to establish a positive association with the bathroom and bathing objects.
Lure your dog into the bathroom, and when comes it and is relaxed, reward him with treats.
It's recommended to do this a few times even when you don’t plan to bathe him so he won’t be afraid when you get him into the bathroom later.
You should also give your dog treats while you bathe him for the first few times to make him feel comfortable.
2. Prepare Everything Beforehand
Dogs will be more nervous if their owner is nervous. So if something goes wrong during the bathing process, your pooch is likely to get more anxious.
You can make the bathing more efficient if you prepare all that you need before you start the bath and go through the actions beforehand.
Keep all the bathing objects and products close to you and you won’t have to waste any time looking for your shampoo or brush when you need it.
3. Brush Your Dog Before Bath
Bathing a dog without getting his hair all over the place may sound difficult but it is possible if you give your dog a thorough brush before you start washing him.
That way, you will get rid of any loose hairs and tangled hair and save your drain from clogging.
In addition, brushing can help you spot any bumps, rashes or other issues on your dog’s skin.
Most dogs also enjoy this and brushing often calms them down.
4. Keep Him Safe in the Tub
Make sure that the water temperature is not too cold or too hot. It should be warm and comfortable.
Remember that whatever feels warm to you will feel slightly warmer to your dog, so adjust accordingly. Start off slowly and give your pooch some time to get used to the situation.
If you're washing the dog in your own tub, the bottom of the tub will be slippery, so put a towel down to prevent your dog from slipping. This can also help you support a large dog by preventing him to lose his footing.
Some dogs will always be anxious or scared in the bath. Having someone there to help you by holding him steady and providing additional comfort can be very effective. That person can also help you administer treats to keep your dog calm.
5. Protect His Ears and Eyes
It is important to protect your dog’s eyes and ears from water and shampoo. When you let water into dog's ears, the ears can become infected from moisture.
Use cotton balls to prevent water from getting into your dog’s ears or simply mind the ears when spraying water near them – cover them with your hand.
Do not wash your dog’s ears when you bathe him because it's too risky.
You can always clean them afterward. In fact, cleaning your dog’s ears once a month is enough.
You might enjoy it yourself when taking a shower, but don’t spray or pour water on your dog’s face or over his head.
If you absolutely have to wash the head, keep his chin up and carefully rinse toward his back and not down over his face.
Never put shampoo on your dog’s head, even if it says that it won’t hurt his eyes.
6. Wash Head to Tail
First, get your pooch as wet as you can before you start applying shampoo, especially if the coat is rich and thick.
This will make lathering and rinsing easier.
If you don’t have a sprayer or hose, fill up a container and pour the water slowly over your pooch.
When your dog is wet enough, apply the shampoo.
Make sure that you use all-natural bathing and grooming products that will not make his skin irritated or cause any allergies.
Bathe your dog head to tail because that can wash away any unwanted visitors that found a home in your dog’s fur, like fleas for example.
If some of the soap or shampoo ends in your dog’s eyes, just flush them out with water and give your dog some extra treats to help him calm down.
Rinse your dog’s body well, until the water becomes clear. Knead the fur with your hand as you do it to remove any suds.
Once you are done with bathing, dry your dog off with a towel, especially if he is new to bathing. When he gets used to baths, you can try blow-drying his hair.
NEXT STEPS: How to Dry a Dog After Bathing (Towel and Hairdryer)
6 Helpful Products for Easier Bathing of Dogs
While bathing a dog is never easy and simple, there are some tools and accessories you can use to help you make the entire process less complicated for you and less stressful for your dog. Here are our favorite tools for an easy way to bathe a dog.
Distract your pooch:
Perfect Curve Lick Lick Pad
Here's an interesting item you probably haven't heard about – a dog lick pad for bathing.
You can make bathing time fun for your pooch and far less anxiety-inducing with this distracting device.
It will allow you to reward your pooch for his good behavior without having to manually administer treats all the time.
- MAKE BATHTIME FUN: Keep your...
- STICKS TO ANY FLAT SURFACE:...
- 100% FOOD GRADE SILICONE:...
- EASY TO USE: Spread some...
- GET THE ORIGINAL: A finalist...
The Perfect Curve lick pad sticks to any flat surface like tile, glass, granite or porcelain.
It is made of perfectly safe, food-grade Silicone and doesn’t leave any residue on the surfaces.
It has no BPS, PBA, lead or any other harmful chemical. At the cost of $20, it will save you and your pup a lot of headache as he's going to be distracted from the bathing process.
The lick pad is simple and easy to use. All you have to do is put some spreadable, dog-friendly food on it, like peanut butter for example, and let your pooch lick his delicious treat while you wash him thoroughly.
Because of the design of the pad, it's not as easy to lick everything off quickly and it'll take some time for the pup to finish everything off.
A new way to bathe them:
Bissell BARKBATH Dual System (Updated Model)
This is a new portable bath system you can use anywhere, anytime.
The product is a recent invention, and has quickly caught on with pet owners.
Its best advantage is because Barkbath is a great way to protect your bathroom from unnecessary mess because you can find a place where you can wash your dog without worrying about any damage.
It is also a better option for senior dogs that have a hard time getting into a tub.
- Every BISSELL purchase helps...
- The first 2-in-1 Portable Dog...
- Three Customizable spray...
- Cleans up to an 80-pound dog...
- The sound/noise emitted is...
This system comes with special nozzles that provide thorough cleaning for the animal because it can get beneath the fur and down to the skin. It also has soft suction that pulls all the dirt and water into a separate water tank.
It generally costs anywhere from $150-$200, so it's not the cheapest of dog bathing supplies, but depending on your situation, this could be a worthwhile investment. We certainly love ours.
You can wash pets of any size using this dog bath system, regardless of the length of the fur.
This system, while a little costly, will also save you money in the long run because you will use less water for a bath.
However, note that this bathing system makes a sound, and if your dog is not accustomed to those kinds of sounds (it is similar to the sound of a vacuum), you may have a problem using this product and better skip it.
Control the water:
ConairPRO Dog Deluxe Pet Washer
Having a sprayer for dog baths can make washing him in a bathtub a lot easier and this product is one of the best on the market.
It comes with two settings – full body spray or cone-shaped curtain spray.
- DELUXE PET WASHER: Designed...
- DUAL SETTINGS: With a...
- PET GROOMING SUPPLIES:...
- MADE TO LAST: ConairPRO Dog &...
- Share The Love: From slicker...
This sprayer has soft rubber fingers for massaging the dog, which can be a great way to provide your pupper with some additional comfort while you wash him.
It also comes with an 8-foot long reinforced hose. If you ever found it complicated to use your own showerhead when washing a dog, you'll appreciate how this item makes the process easier.
You can use this sprayer in your tub or shower, or you can use it outdoors because it can also connect to the outside hose.
For the affordable price of about $20, I found this to be one of the better investments in terms of bathing supplies that made it easier to wash my dogs.
Keep your pup in place:
Rinse Ace Pet Bathing Tether Straps
If you are having problems keeping your pooch still when you bathe him (and most of us do until the dogs get used to the process completely), then you might want to try these tether straps.
They have strong – and I mean, strong – suction cups which can resist tugging and hold your dog in place for his washing.
- For best suction results, use...
- Hold your pet in place at bath...
- Strong suction cups resist...
- Keep your hands free
- Hold your pet in place at bath...
Most of the time, when washing a dog in your own tub, there's no way to secure him.
This is the reason people choose to purchase full-on animal bathing tubs, which run hundreds of dollars.
The strap is one of the main reasons to get those tubs, and in here, you can get one for around $11 and it works in very similar ways.
These Rinse Ace straps can fit any size dog because they are adjustable.
They are also suitable for any shower or tub but you need to use them on smooth surfaces to get the best suction results.
It really helps in keeping your hands free to better wash your pup as well as keep him calmer during the process.
Steady the dog:
Simple Deluxe Anti-Bacterial Anti-Slip Bath Mat
Like I've mentioned before, when you're washing a pup in your own tub, it's likely to be slippery, which is dangerous for very anxious and wiggly dogs.
You can put a bath mat instead of a towel in your bathtub to prevent your dog from slipping, which is going to be more effective.
- BPA-free, made of...
- Provides 30% more coverage...
- Cushioned and comfortable...
- Works on almost any...
- 39" Long by 16" wide
Using a rubber bathmat is probably the safest option, in fact. There are other items available for you to choose from.
For example, this Simple Deluxe mat is made of high-quality, anti-bacterial vinyl and it is machine washable.
It is also allergen and BPA-free, and is the most popular item on Amazon.
The bath mat can cover more than your average mats and works on almost all non-textured surfaces, and certainly most tubs.
The mat is 39″ long and 16″ wide. We always place it when washing our dogs, and if you're just starting, alongside using the above-mentioned straps, this could be a life safer (literally).
Keep all the hair out:
OXO Good Grips Silicone Drain Protector
The last item on the list of my favorite, most helpful dog bathing supplies is another item you may not have considered – silicone drain protector.
When you bathe your dog, it is important to protect your drains from all that hair and prevent clogging.
This silicone drain protector can catch your dog’s hair without blocking water drainage. It can also prevent other things, like toys, from escaping down the drain.
- Tall, domed design fits both...
- Effectively catches hair while...
- Weighted stainless steel...
- Silicone edges lie flush on...
- Resists rust for long-term use
The concept is very simple: it is a tall, dome-shaped drain protector, made of silicone and stainless steel and suitable for both pop-up and flat drains.
Just keep it near the bath and whenever you get ready to wash your dog, put that on. These things are cheap, usually costing around $9 and as the edges of it sit completely flush, it will keep all that hair out of your pipes.
READ NEXT: The 5 Best Dog Baths
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