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.
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.
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.
- 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!