Introducing puppies to bath time when they are young will set them up for a lifetime of baths to come. Old fashioned wisdom was to wash dogs only 2-3 times a year, but times have changed. Now that dogs have taken their places as “family,” living in homes and often lounging on the furniture, keeping them clean is more important than ever before.
Modern pet shampoos have come a long way, and now it is easy to find products that leave pets' fur clean, lustrous, and fresh without causing dryness or damage. For gentle cleaning, try Chris Christensen’s Day to Day shampoo.
Here are some tips on how to get your puppy accustomed to regular baths.
- Small dogs can easily fit in a kitchen sink, making the bathing process easier for the human doing the job. The smaller, enclosed space also limits movement, which can help the pup learn what a bath is all about. It is ideal if your sink has a spray hose attachment for easier wetting and rinsing, but if not, you can purchase a spray nozzle on a soft hose that fits over the faucet. Barring either of these, you can pour warm water over the puppy with an unbreakable cup or small pitcher.
- Larger dogs may fit in a laundry sink if you have one or in the human tub or shower stall. Ideally, you will have a spray hose attachment to enable effective wetting and rinsing of your pet.
- “Do it yourself," dog washes. Many communities have dog wash facilities. Check with local feed stores, pet stores, groomers, and kennels to see if they offer this service. Most provide a tub and shampoo, conditioner, towels, basic grooming tools, a grooming table, and a canine-specific hairdryer. Best of all, you get to leave the mess behind.
- Ensure the water temperature is warm, not hot, similar to what you would use for bathing a human baby.
Wherever you are bathing your pet, make sure it cannot leap out of the tub or sink and hurt itself. Wet puppies can be wiggly and are certainly slippery, so keeping a light leash on will act as a safety measure so you can hold on to the sudsy pup.
Since most dogs do not enjoy getting their faces wet, start your work from behind the ears. Saturate the coat with water all over, then gently massage the shampoo of your choice into the puppy’s fur. Read the label to check for dilution ratios. Make sure you clean paw pads and sanitary areas well while you are at it. Rinse lightly, then give the body a second wash. At this point, gently wet the head, face, and ears, and apply shampoo, being careful not to get it in the puppies' eyes. (If you suspect shampoo has gotten in the eyes, rinse well with cool water.)
Next, rinse the head and face well. Move on to rinse the rest of the body. Pay special attention to be sure you have rinsed off every bit of shampoo. Leaving any in the coat can attract dirt later, or worse, irritate the skin.
In most cases, it's a good idea to use a light conditioner. This will replace the natural oils the shampoo has removed and make the coat easier to brush and comb. Distribute it evenly all over, then rinse well. Chris Christensen’s Day to Day conditioner is an excellent choice.
Gently squeeze as much water as possible from the puppy’s coat, and allow it to shake off a time or two. Using a dry towel, absorb as much water as you can from the fur, using a squeezing motion rather than a rubbing one, which could cause tangles.
If you think any water has gotten in the ears, squirt a little ear cleaner such as Chris Christensen’s Mystic Ear in each ear. Massage gently at the base of the ear to work the cleaner down inside the canal, then allow the puppy to shake its head. This will help remove any moisture from the bath and help dissolve ear wax and debris.
Introduce your puppy to the dryer by turning it on low speed and working from the dog's rear towards the head. Keep the airflow moving, and make sure the temperature is not too hot. Once your puppy is dry, gently brush and comb all over to make sure there are no mats or tangles. For most coat types, a slicker brush, like Mark Slicker Brushes and 000 Greyhounds will do the job nicely.
Once your puppy has been washed, dried, and brushed, all that is left to do is enjoy your clean companion.
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