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How to Give Your Dog a Bath

3 of 7 in Series: The Essentials of Dog Grooming

Before the introduction of grooming products designed for dogs, bathing your dog frequently may have stripped out essential oils and dried out his coat. Today, specially formulated dog shampoos, conditioners, cream rinses, gels, and detanglers make doggy bath time a healthier — and happier — prospect for man and beast!

Although you may be tempted to use an outdoor hose for bathing, resist the temptation — the water is usually too cold, and the dog will get dirty all over again from being outside.

Before you think about wetting down and lathering up your pooch, thoroughly brush and comb your dog’s coat. If you don’t, your pet is likely to end up with nasty tangles and mats. You may need to use the clippers to lop off frizzy or flyaway split ends so they don’t become a tangled nuisance during the wash.

Place sterile cotton balls gently in your dog's ears to keep water out while bathing. Just don’t forget to take them out when you’re done!

Here are the basics of bathing.

  1. Place your dog in a tub of appropriate size.

    Only the smallest and Toy breeds fit comfortably in a sink. Your bathtub or a groomer’s tub is your best choice. Never use the shower to bathe a dog.

  2. Wet down your dog’s hair thoroughly with lukewarm water; wet your pet’s face with a washcloth.

    If you have a sprayer attachment, use it! They’re great for soaking your dog’s coat.

  3. Lather up your dog’s coat thoroughly with a good pH-balanced dog shampoo except around the face and sensitive eyes. Do those separately with the wet washcloth.

  4. Rinse thoroughly sliding your fingers along your dog’s skin so that you get out all that soap.

    Soap attracts dirt, and a dog with dried soap in his hair is prone to those dreaded mats.

  5. Apply a good pH-balanced conditioner or cream rinse for dogs.

    Using a conditioner that prevents tangles and also keeps the coat from drying out is a good idea for most coat types.

  6. Thoroughly rinse away the conditioner.

    Conditioner residue is as bad for your dog’s hair as soap residue, so rinse even better than you did before.

  7. Get out those towels and start drying.

    Look for soap water as you sluice off water. If you find any, go back to rinsing, then towel off your dog as thoroughly as possible. And, be prepared to get wet as your pet shakes off excess water and shakes some more.

You can finish up by blow-drying and styling your dog. Be sure to use a blow-dryer designed for dogs — a human one on the no-heat setting will do only for small dogs.

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SERIES
The Essentials of Dog Grooming

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