Two Important Things to Remember When Training Your Dog to Enjoy Bath Time is:
Teach your dog to associate bathing with great rewards or the things they love.
Take things slow and easy so that they feel relaxed and comfortable.
If your dog joined the family at an older age, the same steps apply: approach bathing in a gradual, calm and patient manner, and give your dog lots of praise and rewards along the way, making each and every bathing experience a positive one.
If your dog has any mats or tangles it may be a good idea to give them a nice brush and trim off mats/knots before bath time.
Wet your dog’s hair all the way to the skin working from the chest/neck area down the back and sides of your dog towards the tail. If you’re using a tub let the water run down the drain so it doesn’t fill up.
Avoid wetting the head area as dogs are very sensitive there. Take care to avoid the eyes, ears, nose and mouth areas. For many dogs, the general head area is better cleaned by gently using a damp face cloth.
It’s important to prevent water from getting into the ears as this can predispose towards an ear infection.
Once the body is thoroughly wet, apply some hypoallergenic dog shampoo (having previously applied a test patch to your dog to ensure there’s no irritation). Start at the chest first before gradually moving out to other areas of the body, making sure you get right down to the undercoat.
After the chest area, gently massage the shampoo onto the shoulder area, down your dog’s sides, back, front legs, back legs and tail area. Once they’re comfortable you can quickly wash their underside (note this area can be ticklish and sensitive for some dogs).
After shampooing your dog, gently rinse out the shampoo thoroughly using your fingers to ensure that you get through the undercoat.
Next, you can apply a gentle hypoallergenic dog conditioner, repeating what you did when shampooing your dog. Depending on the type of conditioner you’re using, you may have to let it sit on the coat for several minutes before rinsing it out thoroughly.
Now that your dog’s bathed you’ll need to help dry them off (see ‘Drying your dog’ below).
Remember to offer some tasty dog food treats to reward for calm behavior and for staying with you when you can throughout the activity. Also, a reward at the beginning and the end. When bathing has finished other rewards may include new chew toys or playing a favorite game. This will help your dog learn to love bath time making the experience fun and enjoyable for both of you.
Drying Your Dog
While dogs will tend to instinctively shake off excess water after getting wet, you will probably also need to help them dry off with some large absorbent towels. After this, most dogs can be allowed to air dry naturally.
Avoid using hair dryers as most dogs don’t like air blowing at them and they can also get too hot.
If hair dryers are unavoidable, always take all safety precautions. Directly supervise the dog at all times, avoid the head area and ensure the air is always at a comfortable temperature (not too warm or hot). The dryer should also be placed a good distance away from the dog.