Many new dog owners assume that their dog will love bath time only to discover that the first bath can be a stressful experience. It can be as unpredictable as bathing a cat but you can ease the process and make them feel more comfortable.
A positive and happy attitude is a good start. Collect all items together in your bathroom first, and fill up the tub with water. Always use dog shampoo, never a type made for humans, as it may contain additives that make your dog’s skin itchy or flaky. Have some big absorbent towels set aside, ready to go. If your dog sees you preparing for their bath then they may be curious and follow you into the bathroom. Give them a treat.
If you have a small dog then you may want to bath them in the sink, however, a bathtub is best as you don’t have to worry about them falling down and hurting themselves, particularly if you have to step away to grab the shampoo or the towel.
Check the temperature of the water. It should be warm but not hot. If you don’t like it, then your dog won’t either. Depending on the height of your dog, fill the tub with 3 – 6 inches of water. Never fill it higher unless your dog is really loving it.
Try to encourage your dog to hop into the bath water. If they do it on the first go, give them another treat. Speak in a soft but happy voice.
Determine if your dog likes the water or not. If they’re loving it, take your time on the next few steps. If they seem to hate it and won’t sit down, get to work.
Use a small plastic cup to pour water over them. Once they’re wet, grab the doggy shampoo and gently soap them up. Use a sponge for delicate regions.
You may wish to bring a waterproof toy to the tub to keep them occupied.
If your dog is trying to get out of the tub then say no in a commanding voice but don’t punish them. Do your best to rinse the shampoo out of their coat, then say yes, you may hop out.
You’ll have to stop them on the mat so that you can use the towel to dry them off. If they have a short coat, a blow dryer is not necessary. At this point, you’ll want to use the brush and comb to get out some of the mats. But if they’re in discomfort, you may have to opt for toweling them off and do the rest of the grooming another day. If your dog won’t tolerate a blow dryer then you’re going to wait for their coat to dry naturally.
If your dog becomes aggressive then you may need to use a muzzle and need the assistance of a helper. Alternatively, let a professional groomer tackle the job. You can find qualified groomers on the Simple Puppy marketplace.
Even if your dog hates his first bath with you, don’t despair. Soon they’ll get used to the routine and it’ll become a pleasant experience for both of you!