Good training and careful preparation are the key to ensuring all sizes of dog enjoy being bathed at home. Fortunately, this is not difficult to achieve if you follow these simple training guidelines and tips:
Dog bathing tub options
The best bathing area for large dogs is a modern, walk-in shower. If that’s not available and you have a large dog to bath when it’s cold outside, use the bathtub, dog-bath or a kid’s pool!
Outdoor dog washing
Outdoor washing sessions can be the easiest way to bathe a very large dog. However, outdoor bathing is only safe during warm weather, as a wet coat reduces the dog’s core-temperature significantly.
- Always keep your dog on a leash when giving an outdoor bath
- Choose a space with a hard surface to avoid mud
- Use a dog-bath enclosure to keep your dog in place
Step 1 – Dry bathtub dog training
Start by letting your dog see the dog-bath a few days before you plan the bathing session. Then start training your pet to like being in the dry bathtub/pool, by using the ’Get in!’ command. And when he’s in the bath give a small food treat and lots of praise.
Then move back from the tub to encourage your dog to step out of the tub and come to you. You can make a noise, or call your dog for ‘Come here!’ However, don’t give a treat for getting out of the tub, because you want your dog to link treats with having fun in the tub.
Practice this 5 or 6 times in a row on the first day and practice with a dry tub for the next two or three days.
Outdoor dog-bath training
If you’re planning to bathe your pet outside, use the ‘Stay!’ command to get him used to the spot where you’ll be washing him. Repeat this sequence in short sessions for a few days:
- Get your dog to sit or lie down in the washing area
- Give a treat while he’s in position
- Give the ‘Stay!’ command and walk a few feet away
- If he moves get him back in the sit/lie position and repeat ‘Stay!’ then give a treat
- No matter how many times your dog moves, put him back in the sit or lie position
Step 2 – Water-in bath training for dogs
The next stage is to get your dog to enter the tub/pool with a little water already in the bottom. When your dog seems comfortable, turn on a tap and let a little more water run into the tub. Don’t get your dog’s coat wet and just talk with a soft voice and give a treat.
If you’re going to wash your pet outside with a garden hose, practice the ‘Stay!’ command with the hose near the dog, and let a little water run out of it.
Step 3 – Preparing a dog bathing session
Organisation is crucial to keeping your dog calm during a bath, so gather all your tools together including:-
- Dog brush
- Plenty of towels
- Cotton wool balls to pop in your dog’s ears to keep them dry inside
- Eye protection ointment from the vet if used
- Rubber mat or thick towel to make tub non-slip
- Washcloth for face
- A water jug
- Shower hose
- Latex gloves if used
Give your dog a thorough brushing before bathing. Tangles in a dry coat become hard matted areas after getting wet. For pups and small dogs, you can warm-up the towels to avoid them catching a chill when they exit the bath.
Step 4 – Giving your dog a no-fuss bath
- Adding water to the tub before your pet enters the area greatly reduces anxiety
- Test the water with your bare skin to ensure it’s warm – but not hot (indoors) or cool if you’re outside in hot weather.
- Give the ‘Get in!’ command (indoors), or (outdoors) lead him to the washing area, get him to sit and stay, then give a treat.
- Wet your dog’s coat thoroughly before you use any shampoo, starting from the shoulders down
- Pour on water from the jug or use a gentle shower spray
- Add shampoo and lather down from the shoulders so any fleas don’t run up to the head (yikes!)
- Gently massage the shampoo and talk in a calm positive voice to reassure your pet
- Use a wet washcloth without shampoo to gently cleanse around the eyes and nose
- Rinse your dog repeatedly with clean water until all traces of dirt and soap have disappeared
Step 5 – Drying your dog without mess
- After rinsing, drape a towel over his back immediately to stop him shaking-off the water and soaking you
- Rub another towel all over your dog’s body soaking up excess water
- Change to a dry towel as soon as each towel gets wet
- If you’ve trained your dog to accept a blow-drier – begin blow-drying with cool air
- Give lots of praise and treats during and after bath-time, to fix happy bathtime memories
- Dogs often want to rub their coat on furniture or carpeting after being dried, so keep your pet away from your soft furnishings for a while
And finally, sit down with your lovely, clean pet – and give yourself a treat! Well done!