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Dogs and Baths, Oh My!

Start them out Right

Dog breeds that require a haircut should be seen by a professional groomer for the first time, somewhere between 2-6 months of age. They need to get used to being handled by other people, the clippers, and the noises of a grooming shop. This also helps to gain the puppies confidence going forward. Ask your friends for a recommendation on where they take their dog. (Just because you take a puppy in, doesn’t mean it has to get a haircut, just a bath or to meet the groomer.)

Bathing at Home

Some dogs naturally take to water and like any opportunity to frolic and play. Others, not so much. Here are a few tips to help make bath time more enjoyable.

black lab with hair net dog baths

 Get the Wiggles Out

Taking a long walk is good for both you and your dog and also reduces their energy level.  Some dogs even enjoy going for a “swim” after exercise.

Baby Steppin’

For the first few baths, do one small step at a time, giving your puppy a chance to get used to each new experience. Start with an empty bathtub (with a mat) and a little playtime in the tub.  Then, when the dog is outside the tub, run the water to help him or her get used to the sound. Next time, add a small amount of water to the tub and maybe just dip the paws in.  It’s important not to rush the process. Keep working your way up to a full bath – watching for that state of calm at each new step before you move on.

The Right Tools

  • Bathtubs are slippery, so be sure to use a non-slip mat or large towel that will stay in place.
  • Did you know they make special pet shower spray attachments? Lowering the pressure and water flow and holding it close to the fur can be less surprising.
  • Use a wash cloth around the face and be careful that water doesn’t go up the nose or in the ears.

Attitude

  • Be aware of your body language and tone of voice.
  • Make it fun!  Incorporate toys and make time for play.
  • Make it tasty!  Bring some treats into the bath area – or feed your dog there a few times to get him to associate good things with tub time on days when you aren’t planning a bath.

It’s never too late to employ a little planning and consistent effort to make bath time less of a struggle. And, you can always hire a trainer if you need some extra help!