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How to Give a Dog a Bath At Home or Outside

If your dog is like many dogs, the sound of running water is enough to send it darting under the nearest table. But, if you make bath time a fun time, it can be an enjoyable experience for you and your pooch!

Dog Bathing: Getting Started

Before asking your pet to hop in the tub, you'll want to have the following supplies in place:

  • a detachable showerhead (This will make it easy to spray and rinse.)
  • a rubber mat for the tub
  • a trashcan for fur
  • plenty of towels (for you and your dog!)
  • some treats (Reward your pet at the beginning of the session for getting into the tub and at the end of the session for enduring the bath.)
  • your dog's brush
  • your dog's shampoo and conditioner.

Also, try to keep distractions to a minimum when you are doing any grooming. Keep your children, your dog's toys, the television, and other noises away from the bathtub.

Shampoos & Conditioners for Dogs

Check with your vet before you use any shampoo or conditioner on your dog. Although most will be fine, using a good flea-and-tick shampoo and conditioner, there are many types of medicated products on the market for different skin and/or fur conditions.

Prepare for Everything

It's no secret that your dog has a mind of his own. When bath time rolls around, make sure you are ready for anything that can and will happen. Your best bet is to keep the door to the bathroom closed during bath time. That way, even if your pet escapes the tub, he can't escape the room!

Dog Bathing Tips

Before getting your dog wet, brush him thoroughly, making sure you brush out any knots in his fur. If your dog always seems to get matted fur, make sure you brush him especially well before bath time. While some dogs might not like being brushed, if you brush them regularly, they will become accustomed to the act.

After you've removed any tangles and knots from his fur, place him in the tub on a rubber mat. This will give him traction and will keep his paws from sliding around, which could not only injure him but also scratch your tub.

Use a detachable showerhead to wet all of your dog's fur, making sure to avoid getting water into his eyes and ears. Once he's wet, massage shampoo into his back, legs, belly, and tail. You'll want to take extra care shampooing his head, in order to avoid getting suds in his eyes and ears.

When you're shampooing your dog, use your fingertips to stroke the shampoo into his skin. Do this all over your dog for five to 10 minutes. Even though some shampoo bottles say to shampoo, rinse and repeat, you shouldn't have to shampoo twice unless your dog is particularly dirty.

Once you have shampooed all of your dog's fur, rinse him well. You'll want to keep running water over his fur until all of the suds and bubbles disappear. If any of the shampoos is left on your dog, it could cause his skin to become itchy and/or irritated.

Once you've rinsed the shampoo, apply the conditioner in the same manner as you did the shampoo and rinse thoroughly.

Special Care for White Dogs

If your dog has white fur, you know it takes extra care to get it squeaky clean. Try using a fur-whitening shampoo to get the stains out and to keep your pet looking fresh.

If the stains still aren't coming out, you might consider trying Mrs. Stewart's Bluing. Use only a few drops of the product on your dog and rinse.

Dogs and Skunks: Dealing with Skunk Spray

If a skunk has ever sprayed your dog, you know how hard it can be to get skunk odor out of your dog's fur. However, dog owners have successfully erased the stench by mixing together the following:

  • 15 ounces hydrogen peroxide
  • two tablespoons baking soda
  • two squirts of liquid soap.

Just apply this remedy to the offending area and rinse away with warm water! If this doesn't work, take him to a groomer.

Drying Your Dog

While some owners use only towels to dry their dogs, others use blow dryers. You'll have to decide what works best for you and your pet. While some dogs like the warm air of the blow dryer, others are frightened by the noise.

When you dry your dog, start at his back and work forward. Dry off his tail, underside, paws, legs, and face. Make sure he is as dry as possible. After you finish, give your dog a treat for a job well done!

Remember, you should only need to bathe your dog once or twice a month. Excessive bathing could dry out or irritate his skin. It could also cause problems with his fur. In between baths, however, be sure to brush your dog frequently to keep his fur fresh and tangle-free. This will also cut down on shedding.

The Finishing Dog Grooming Touches

After your dog is dry, give him another good and thorough brushing. This time, you should see little if any fur coming out. If you want your dog to look as though he's visited a professional groomer, give your dog a bandana to wear. He'll look shiny, clean, and fashionable!

There are pet perfumes on the market that can make your dog smell his best. However, make sure you check with your vet (or your local groomer) to see if the kind of perfume you want to use is right for your dog.

Cleaning Your Dog's Toenails

Be gentle with your dog's toenails. If you notice his toenails are filled with dirt and debris, get a gentle brush with some soap and scrub his nails clean. If his nails need trimming, you might want to take him to a groomer. Dogs' nails can be difficult to cut, and many dog owners find that the chore is best left to a groomer.

When to Visit a Groomer

If you think it will be difficult for you to take care of your dog properly (and often), it might be a good idea to take him to a groomer. Groomers can be a dog owner's best friend. Groomers don't just cut dog's hair, they offer many other services such as specialty breed cuts, nail trimming, allergy treatment, ear cleaning, teeth brushing, and a quality groomer that will even empty your pet's anal glands. To find a groomer in your area, check with your vet or your local pet store. You can also use your telephone directory to search for a groomer.

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