by Soojin Um
Staff Writer

Maybe you have family or friends coming over for the holidays, or you’ve invited a special someone for a date night. Or perhaps it’s just something that you’ve been putting off. Where’s this going, you ask? We’re talking about giving your dog a bath and a grooming. A good bath can be refreshing for your dog, even if they initially don’t want to get one. So here are some tips that can help make bath time less miserable (hopefully) for you and your dog.

Prepare for resistance
Your dog will not want to take a bath. If they have been given baths since they were puppies, they might see it as a normal thing. If, however, regular baths haven’t been on their itinerary, or your dog is a rescue dog, in which case you obviously weren’t able to train it from puppyhood, you could potentially have a struggle on your hands. Unless it’s an emergency (e.g. your pooch rubbed against some poo in the yard – it happens), you might have to just take it one step at a time. Be prepared for the dog to try to escape. If you have family or friends that can help you, that’s a godsend. If not, then you’ll just have to do the best you can. Try making the first bath as quick and gentle as possible. A quick soak, then lather, then rinse. If it’s warm outside, you could even disguise it as play at first. After the shampoo, you can treat the rinse as a game. The backyard might end up full of suds, but at least your dog will have gotten its bath.
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Got the right shampoo?
You won’t want to use people shampoo for Fido. It could be a little harsh on the skin and fur. Dog shampoos can be found in every pet store and pet section. If you have any doubts as to which one is best, ask your veterinarian for a recommendation. Some dogs might be more prone to dry skin than others, so a particular dog shampoo might not be a good fit for all dogs. If you can’t find a dog shampoo, baby shampoo could be a workable substitute. However, again, you should check with your vet about that as well.
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Wash the body and head at different times
One safety tip is to make sure water does not get into the eyes, nose, and especially ears. Any water in the ears can cause irritation and is a risk for infection. An advisable strategy is to wash the body first. For the head, try using a hand towel that’s been run through warm water and then wringed out. Gently clean the face and the top of the head. This can be the done the day before or after the bath. Your dog shouldn’t mind it so much (again, hopefully), so this shouldn’t be a priority. If your dog is struggling to get free during the bath and you try to wash the head, then soap and water could get in the ear, the mouth, the eyes, and nose. None of those are pleasant, and it can possibly make your dog react even more forcefully.
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Dry thoroughly
This will seem like a Duh! statement, but make sure to dry your dog once you’re done with the bath. Use a thick towel or towels and remove as much of the water as possible. If it’s cold out, you won’t want your dog to get a chill. At the very least, it would be very uncomfortable. However, even if it’s the summer and it’s hot, a damp dog running around the house and lying down on the sofa or bed would not be a good thing. If you plan to use a hair dryer, be careful not to use the highest heat setting. If the dryer stays put even for a few seconds, it could burn the skin. Try a medium setting and move the dryer around a lot. It might be a little chilly for your dog at first, but it’s the best way for safe, even drying.
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Are you ready?
Giving your dog a bath is an important part of good health. As with most things in life, clean is good. At the very least, visitors to your home will thank you. Luckily, dog baths don’t have to be a frequent thing. Once a month is plenty. Any more and it can possibly lead to dry skin and a dry scalp. For some people, the prospect of giving their dogs a bath is on par with going to the dentist. Well, many pet stores and pet businesses offer bath and grooming services. It could be money well spent if it saves you from having to go through the ordeal yourself. Too bad we can’t do the same for going to the dentist.

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