It’s a four letter word that makes just about every fur-kid on the planet head for the hills…or at least their favorite hiding spot! And, for many of us it triggers an anxiety worthy of a first hot air balloon ride. Truly, the word “BATH” conjures a plethora of emotions for both the bath-ER and the bath-EE.
But by approaching bath time with a little pre-planning and a positive attitude, the experience will become one filled with fun and tangible benefits.
First, get organized. Pick a day, even if you have to schedule it on your daily planner. Decide where is best. The laundry tub, bath tub, or even a kid’s plastic wading pool are practical options. But, if your pooch is larger or heavier than you can manage in one of these, you should consider using a “community bath” often offered in neighborhood pet supply stores and recruit a “bath buddy” to assist you.
Keep a list of all the supplies you’ll need, or better yet, put together a “Spa Kit” that is ready when you are. Items you’ll want to have in your kit should include a good shampoo and conditioner, several towels, a non-skid tub mat, a container (if you don’t have a hand-held shower head for rinsing), the proper brushes and/or combs for your pup’s coat, and a multiple setting hairdryer. (I even have bows, barrettes, and ribbons ready for my girls – wink, wink.)
Set all your supplies out so they are at your fingertips before you even turn on the tap. Talk in a happy voice while you are setting up and even offer a treat or two so Fifi thinks this is an adventure she’ll not want to miss. Nothing spoils the mood more than trying to coax an unwilling fur-kid out from under the bed or behind the couch turning bath time into a purely negative experience for both.
Begin to run the water a few seconds before you plunge your pooch, being certain that the temperature is just right. Once you are happy with the water temp, use lots of musical sounding phrases and positive words to place your pup into the water. Be upbeat though. The intonation of your voice will certainly tell them whether this is going to be a FUN, FUN, FUN experience, or an “oh-I’m-so-sorry-my-poor-puppy-baby-it’s-okay-awwww” kind of deal.
The process of the bathing should be carried out as calmly as possible
Beginning with the head, be sure to thoroughly wet the coat being gentle around the face and ears. I usually take a wash cloth and gently clean out any eye gunk right off the bat. Then, add shampoo (as recommended by the brand) and lather the body thoroughly getting the under belly, bum, legs, and feet well. Rinse thoroughly being careful not to get shampoo in the eyes. I will unplug the tub once I begin to lather and then use the running water to rinse. If you use it, apply conditioner once the coat is squeaky clean and rinse again.
As soon as the water is drained, I drape a towel over my baby and begin to towel dry. Depending on the size of your fur-kid, you’ll have to adjust this process. You can then move to your prepared drying location where the hairdryer and brushes are ready to go. (Since my brats are small, I can often do all three at once and they have the “tag-team” routine perfected for the hair dryer while I sit on the bathroom floor!) At this point, I will clean their ears (a story for another day) just because they’re already wet. But, I would leave off any nail clipping or anal gland expressing for another time and stick to only the bath, laced with praise and treats.
The keys to successful bath times are Planning, Preparation, and Positive attitude
Be sure you allow lots of time so you aren’t rushed. You can probably count on at least a half a day when it’s all said and done. (Don’t forget you’ll have to clean up afterward.) Depending on the breed and your fur-kid’s activities (i.e. hole digging, rodent hunting, beach patrolling, etc.), you’ll likely want to bath them from once a month to every 6 weeks. Regular brushing in between will also help maintain a healthy, clean coat. This regular interaction -yes, bath time included- will create a closer bond with your pup and promote a sense of trust between you. You’ll also find that Fido will be less likely to high-tail it when he hears the bathwater flow. And, by beginning a bath routine, probably no earlier than when puppy is about 6 weeks or so, you’ll find that bath time becomes play time…just a little wetter!
Did you love this article? Make sure you take the time to share!