If bath time is a struggle in your house, you’re not alone. Many dogs try to run and hide under the nearest bed when they hear the first gush of bath water, but it doesn’t have to be that way. You can improve your dog bathing skills by taking a look at things even the most caring owners occasionally do wrong when washing their pets.
Check out our gallery below to learn about common bath time mistakes and the best ways to get a drama-free bath.
Don't ambush him.
You know the scene: chasing your dog down the hallway in an attempt to wrangle him into the tub for the much-dreaded bath. Though it may seem like fun, it may also reinforce the behavior of running away from you — which trainer Mikkel Becker doesn't recommend. Instead, calmly coax him to the tub with a treat and reassuring words.
Don't use cold water.
Do you enjoy taking a cold bath? Probably not, and it can make bath time really uncomfortable for your dog, too. So use warm (never hot!) water to bathe her. And here's another tip: If your dog is nervous about the bath, make sure she isn't nearby when you fill the tub. Dr. Marty Becker says the sound of rushing water may add to her stress, so prepare the bath before bringing her in.
Don't douse your dog's face with running water.
We humans may love the feeling of warm water beating down on us from the shower head, but our dogs probably don't. Instead, use a washcloth to clean your dog's face — Mikkel Becker says it's less frightening than having running water splashing over his snout. And when rinsing his neck and the top of his head, hold his nose and chin at an angle above the water, so it doesn't run into his eyes or nose.
Don't use shampoo for humans.
You may have heard that baby shampoo is a proper substitute for dog shampoo, but even shampoo designed for infants has a different pH than what your dog's skin needs. The best thing to do is to talk with your veterinarian about which doggie shampoo is best for your pet — especially in the case of canines who have skin problems.
Don't yell at your pet.
Each time you bathe your dog, start by calmly saying the word "bath" before gently putting her in the tub. This helps reduce stress and minimize surprises for your dog at the next bath time. While washing and drying her, lavish her with praise to make it a bonding experience for you two. And when the bath is complete, offer a desirable reward — like a favorite long-lasting chew or food puzzle — so your dog learns that staying calm in the tub results in an extra-special treat.
Don't use a hot blow-dryer.
If you've got a dog with hair that needs more than just a towel-dry, a blow-dryer can come in handy. (Keep in mind that some dogs may be afraid of the noise, so be on the lookout for signs that your dog is fearful.) If you're using the same blow-dryer that you use on your own hair, make sure it's on the cool setting, never the heat setting. There are blow-dryers made especially for dogs that blast room-temperature air, if that's an investment you'd like to make.