Dog Bathing at Home: Tips to Make it Easier

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Dog Bathing at Home: Tips to Make it Easier

Even if you bring your dog in regularly to a local dog groomer, you’ll still likely need to bathe your pet on occasion. Dogs love rolling around and getting dirty outdoors, and bathing your dog at home may be required occasionally between appointments. Keeping your pet clean between visits eases the grooming process, nourishes their coat and benefits their overall health.

This blog discusses tips for distracting dogs during the bathing process, keeping them in position, choosing the right shampoos and conditioners, and drying your pet. We hope our tips and tricks make bathing at home a little easier!

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Use a Slip Lead or Collar & Leash

The more control you have over the situation the better. Whether you’re dealing with a playful puppy or a cranky senior, having control of where their head goes can be extremely important. 

If you intend on only bathing your pet occasionally, a slip lead or collar will work. A slip lead is nice to have handy because it’s not a big deal if they get wet or gross. You may not want to get your dog’s nice collar wet and soapy. 

If you are bathing your pet frequently, purchasing a grooming loop would be a great idea. They are inexpensive and help you move and restrain your pet easily. You can also get suction cup teacher clips to safely attach your pup where you want it. 

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Where Should I Bathe My Dog?

Where you choose to bathe your dog will depend largely on the size of your dog. If you have a little dog or puppy, don’t be afraid to use your kitchen sink! Your back will thank you for it. 

If you have a medium or large size dog, the tub or shower will likely be your best option. If you have a walk-in shower, make sure you have a way to tether your dog so you don’t end up with a soapy dog running around.

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Sometimes you may have to use a hose outdoors. It may not be ideal, but sometimes it’s your best option. If you have to bathe your pup outside with the hose, consider only bathing the sections on your dog that are soiled so you don’t cover their entire body with cold water.

Find A Distraction

Now that you have a plan for safely tethering your dog during a bath, add enrichment to bath time by giving them something to do. Try a suction cup Lickimat (available at your local Smoochie Pooch grooming salon).  Lick mats are silicon mats that have different designs inside to hold food or treats in an effort to retain a dog’s attention. The different designs and what you put in them offer different difficulty levels. 

Many people simply use peanut butter on them, but you can get creative with it. You could mix up some Puppy Scoops Ice Cream Mix (also available at your local Smoochie Pooch salon) and freeze it on the mat or mix up some canned dog food with fresh fruit and vegetables. Whatever you choose, your pet is sure to love it – and it helps make bath time fun for them.

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Choose the Right Dog Shampoo and Conditioner

Different dogs require different bathing techniques, and the same goes for bathing products. 

Choosing shampoo and conditioner that is right for your dog’s coat is important. While single-coated dogs may require less frequent bathing and gentler shampoos, double-coated dogs require shampoos that penetrate more to the undercoat and skin. Skin conditions and allergies are other factors you may wish to take into consideration when choosing the right bathing products for your pet. 

You should also never use human shampoo when bathing your pet. The chemical makeup of a dog’s hair and skin is completely different from that of a human’s, and utilizing human shampoos can irritate their skin with improper pH levels. Ask your local pet groomer for recommendations on the perfect shampoo and conditioner for your pet’s coat and skin. 

Shampoos that are made for professional pet groomers are intended to be diluted, so you only need about a teaspoon of the shampoo per cup of water. You can pour it into an empty bottle and shake it up to mix it or utilize a frother. Shampoos that you buy at your local pet retailer can be diluted as well. This reduces the step of mixing the product with water and makes it easier to apply and rinse out. 

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Dog conditioners are also important, especially if your dog is thick- or long-coated. Shampoos strip natural oils out of the skin and hair, so conditioning is key for skin rehydration and repairing the hair shaft. 

Conditioners add a protective coating to the hair and make it much easier to brush. Don’t forget to run a brush or comb through your dog’s hair once it dries. You can also use a leave-in conditioner to save time.

Preparing a Dog Bath

If your dog has a lot of energy, you may want to find a way to exercise and tire them before taking a bath. Taking dogs for a walk or run first may help make the bathing process easier.

Be prepared before alerting your dog that it’s bath time. Check the water temperature in advance (water should be warm, not hot) and have your products out and ready before bringing your pet over to the bath (shampoo, conditioner, leashes, distraction tools and towels).

Pets are alarmingly in tune with their owners’ body language. It’s good advice to wait until you are calm and collected before beginning the bath so neither you nor your pet begin the process in an escalated state of anxiety. If you know your pet is prone to anxiety during baths, try giving them some calming CBD treats like Pawse Bark-Less Bites before a bath to help relieve their stress as well.

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Dog Bathing Process

Secure your pet with leashes if necessary. With warm water, wet your dog’s coat thoroughly. Once your dog is sufficiently wet, begin applying and lathering shampoo to their coat. It’s a good practice to work on the dirtiest areas first, as this allows the shampoo to sit and work longer in those areas while you continue to apply product to the rest of your pet.

Apply product onto your dog’s head and muzzle, but try to avoid getting shampoo in your pet’s mouth, eyes, nose and ears. Our recommendation is to massage the shampoo thoroughly so it reaches past your dog’s coat and nourishes the skin. A good rule of thumb is to take your time and allow your dog to sit while the shampoo to works for about 10 minutes if possible before rinsing.

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Rinse out the shampoo. Then rinse your dog again to ensure you got out all of the suds. Next, massage your dog with conditioner. Leave the conditioner on for a few minutes before rinsing well.

Again, you’ll want to rinse your dog very well so as not to leave product behind that would irritate your pet’s skin.

Can you even call it a bath if your dog doesn’t shake off afterward?

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Many pet owners don’t dry their dog after home baths, but it does make a significant difference – especially in long-coated dogs. The easiest way to do this at home is to wait for your pet to drip dry for a significant amount of time first and dry them off with a towel. 

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Once they have air dried for a bit and are just damp, you can use a dryer (cool or warm setting, not hot) and brush them while using the dryer. This will create a soft, fluffy look and feel. 

Avoid drying the head until the very end as most dogs don’t like it. After it is dry, be sure to run a metal comb through your dog’s coat to ensure no tangles have occurred.

Always a Positive Experience 

The goal is to always make bath time fun for you and your pet. The more praise and treats, the better! It is best if you have someone to help you so they can give treats while you bathe, but it’s not necessary. Try the lick mat if you know you’ll be by yourself. Just remember, stay calm and try to have fun! 

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