For centuries, dogs have lived alongside humans, helping us hunt and live. They have become our eternal companions with a surprising depth in emotion and behavior. However, for centuries, we have had to deal with our canine companions’ less endearing qualities—smelliness, to name one. It’s natural, it happens, and as owners of dogs, you are responsible for keeping your dog clean and healthy. Let’s take a look at some basic grooming tips for maintaining your dog’s hygiene.
Bath Time = Fun Time
Some dogs seem to have as much trouble with water as cats. They have to deal with being restrained while getting soaked and slathered with all kinds of scented liquids. That doesn’t really spell a pleasant time for anyone.
Try to help your dog associate bath time with fun time by teaching him that a bath is always followed by good things, including exceptionally tasty treats, squeaky toys, dinner, or a nice walk in the park. He’ll feel a lot better about the bath if he understands that great things come with it. Give him positive reinforcement through each step of the process. Give him half of a treat once he gets in the tub. Tell him he’s doing a great job throughout, and after you’ve toweled him off, give him the other half.
Before the Bath
The grooming and hygiene starts before you even turn on the tap. Brush your dog to get rid of mats and tangles, which can be painful for your pup. Brushing also eliminates dead hair and skin, both of which contribute to bad odor and allergies. It will also reduce the amount of hair that ends up in your drain, so you won’t have to worry about clogs. Dogs tend to enjoy the feeling of being brushed too.
Rinse and Repeat
With your dog in the tub, you can finally get to the bathing. Wet your dog from nose to tail with warm water, making sure to avoid getting water in his ears. You can try to put cotton balls in your dog’s ears, but if he finds that uncomfortable, just be extra careful.
Be aware of the products you use on your dog, too. Human shampoos are usually too harsh for your pup, and many flea shampoos are full of potentially dangerous chemicals. If your pup has sensitive skin, try dog shampoo for allergies that will soothe and moisturize skin, preventing scratching and skin problems down the line.
Once your dog is thoroughly soaked, apply the shampoo, starting from the neck down. Work it into his fur, massage his skin, and generally make him feel as relaxed as possible. Use a washcloth to wipe down his face and muzzle. Familiarize yourself with your dog’s body so you can easily identify any strange bumps, lumps, or areas of inflammation in the future.
When you’ve completely lathered up your canine, rinse away the suds. Dog coats are much thicker than human hair, so it will take longer to rinse away all the soap. Any residue will make your dog itchy, so be thorough. If he has longer hair, you might consider using a conditioner.
Dry your dog using super absorbent towels or a hair dryer. If you go the latter route, set the heat low so you don’t burn or dry out your pup’s skin.
When the bath is over, let your dog go. He’ll probably go a little crazy, rubbing himself all over the carpet and furniture. This is natural. Just make sure he’s in a safe, clean area until he’s completely dry and relieved.
Based on breed, coat type, and general activity level, your dog may require more frequent bathing. Consult your vet to find out how often to give your dog a bath.