1. I recommend getting your dog familar with their body being touched from as early as possible. You can touch their paws, nails, underneath the eye area and tail whilst relaxing and having a cuddle with them.
2. Dog shampoo – I’m always getting asked about whether human shampoo can be used on dogs? It is not recommended as dog’s skin has a different PH, it is more alkaline, human shampoo has stronger detergents and can be irritating to the skin, removing valuable oils from the coat and skin. Puppies should always be bathed in specifically formulated shampoo which is milder in formula. Talk to a dog groomer or your vet about the type of shampoo and conditioner (if needed) that would suit your dog’s coat and skin.
3. Never bath a matted dog it will make the knots and tangles tighter, gently try to remove prior with specifically designed de-matting grooming tools. You can also try rubbing a bit of cornflour into the mat which will help to loosen it. It is a good idea to brush your dog prior to bathing to remove loose hair, it also stimulates the dog’s circulation.
4. Make sure you have time to bath your dog and they are relaxed at the time. Putting them under any undue stress can give them a bad experience which they won’t forget next time! Remember praise your dog throughout and give them a treat or play their favourite game afterwards.
5. Make sure there is a non slip surface such as a bath mat to stand on in the shower, bath or sink depending on the size of your dog. You can buy bath restraints which stick to the side of the bath if you think there is a risk of them jumping out and hurting themselves.
6. Water should be lukewarm, cooler than you would have a bath or shower.
7. Start at the back end of the dog and methodically work your way to the head (unless they have a specific dislike of their backend being touched), water near the neck and head area will make the dog shake! To reduce the chance always keep contact with one hand on their back throughout. Cover your dog’s eyes with your hand when washing the face and avoid water going into the ears. Make sure there is no shampoo or conditioner residue as this can make your dog’s coat dull.
8. Squeeze out excess water from the legs and body before drying with a towel. There is nothing nicer for a dog to be dried with warm towels heated on a radiator. Make sure if you use a hairdryer it is on a cool setting. Hairdryers which professional dog groomers use are set to lower temperatures than human hairdryers. If your dog doesn’t like the hairdryer don’t force it, build gradually. You can get microfibre towelling dog drying coats, to keep them snug and warm.
9. I would never recommend bathing your dog more than once a week unless they have got particularly dirty. It is a good idea to speak to a dog groomer as it does vary depending on the breed and lifestyle. There are good dry shampoos on the market now for in-between washes or helping to reduce odours in beard areas for example.
10. If you don’t have the facilities at home, there are pet shops now which have self service dog washing facilities, have a look what is in your local area.