Top 10 Tips & Tricks for Bathing your new Puppy!
So that special day arrived, and your new Puppy was successfully introduced to your family. It was a day that you will never forget. No matter if this is your first Puppy or your tenth, there are so many things to do and remember. Every Puppy is different, so one of those many things will be to learn how to bath your new fur-buddy for the very first time.
To help you enjoy this occasion, create a safe, secure environment for your pup and offer up some guidelines, we've prepared your Top 10 Tips & Tricks for bathing your dog.
We've discussed in an earlier Blog, New Puppy...woohoo! What do I do now?
“Rearing a Puppy is very much like raising a toddler; everything is looked at through puppy-dog eyes of curiosity and marvel.”
Juliana Weiss-Roessler, free-lance writer for the Emmy-nominated reality series ‘Dog Whisperer’ says:
“If your dog hates bath time, it’s likely you do, too. It may be hard to imagine that you could turn it around and start viewing a bath as a time for bonding instead, but it is possible! The key is to have a strategy for the change.”
ONE: How are you feeling?
There's no doubt that if you’re feeling apprehensive about bathing your Puppy for the first time...so will they. There is nothing like bathing a new born baby for the very first time; and as most if not all Mothers will admit, it’s a time of mixed emotion and to a certain extent fear.
But, if you're well prepared and have help at hand for this maiden voyage, there's no reason why your Pup shouldn’t have a ball. After all, we want to make this first bath-time experience a fun one so that moving forward your dog enjoys, (or at the least tolerates) their tub-time. After all, let’s get serious…it’s going to be a necessity!
Being prepared is definitely the key. Get everything you need before you mention the “B” word. They can smell your thought process before you’ve even begun, so having everything at your fingertips will mean you’ll be way ahead. Read UWDOGS Pre-wash tips for your canine here.
TWO: Where are you going to bath your Pup?
So where are you going to bathe your Pup? A good question, and a decision we encourage you to think about carefully. Depending on the size of your Pup and how big they're going to grow, there definitely needs to be a plan with the future in mind. But as a new Puppy, bath-time needs to feels as safe and secure as possible.
We suggest the sink, bath-tub, shower or laundry-tub. The smaller the area to wallow, the less frightening although let’s be sensible….the less water on the floor is going to be a bonus! Consider also, that Puppies are naturally predisposed to play, so why not introduce them to bath-time along with their favourite toys. Might just keep their minds off the task at hand.
THREE: What products should I use?
There are no secrets here. You need a great Shampoo and Conditioner made especially for dogs! Never use a shampoo or conditioner made for Human’s, OR the hand-soap, OR the dish-washing detergent. The pH is markedly different therefore all the care in the world, plus your favourite haircare product just ain’t going cut it. Get outta here! If you do use your own shampoo, your dog’s acid mantle will without doubt, be stripped of its natural oils and the skin will in time (if not immediately), itch like Hades.
So do your pup a favour and use a superior soap-free and pH balanced shampoo and conditioner. They’ll gain all the benefits of scientifically researched and developed formulas that will take care of their hair and skin well-being. Nothing like a clean and itch-free puppy. Then be prepared for them to go back outside and roll in something messy!
FOUR: Before getting wet.
- Take them for a quick walk. Puppies love to play, and love nothing more than exploring and burning off energy. We suggest you give them a quick trot around the block before their bath. It will help calm them down and tire them out just enough to dampen a little of that awesome puppy-spirit.
- Give them a good brush. This will help the process ten-fold. Removing burrs or foreign objects from their coat pre-wash and easing out any tangles or matting will make combing through later a breeze.
- What kind of ears does your Puppy have? Regardless of the answer to this question we encourage you to protect your puppies ears by using cotton wadding - to stop water getting into the ear canal; which can predispose your dog to ear infections. This is a must for most canines. Just don't forget to remove the wadding when you're finished. If your dog is getting ear infections often, this is a sign you may not be cleaning the ears properly after getting wet. Clean them BEFORE AND AFTER a bath or swim.
- What if my Puppy does not like getting water on his face? Some dogs will happily sit under the tap, water cascading over them and think nothing of it; others won’t like water on their faces at all and will be terribly vocal about it. You will get to know your Puppy one step at a time but in most cases, this will be trial and error… worth it in the long-run.
- You might like to try a sponge to wet, clean and rinse to begin with, just take extra care with those who have multiple facial wrinkles and longer than usual ear flaps. If your dog’s ears stand up to attention, cup them with your hand to ensure water does not enter the canal, or use cotton wadding as discussed.
- A Non-Slip Mat? This is a great idea if you're washing in the shower or bath-tub. The non-slip mat will give your puppy extra confidence once they know they’re not likely to slip.
“Cleaning the ears prior to a bath will help remove the accumulated dirt and, applying a few drops of ear cleaning solution after the bath will change the PH of the humidity accumulated in the ear canal, preventing bacteria to grow. This process should be followed every time the dog’s head gets wet, including after a walk in the rain, a fun time at the lake, beach or around the sprinklers.”
FIVE: Getting Wet?
Let’s dispel this myth immediately. Yes, you will definitely get wet! Now that's out of the way, try to introduce your new Pup to the water gradually - from the paws up. Depending on your circumstances, just remember to make the experience a good one. Ever had a cold shower? Perhaps consider nice WARM water right from the get-go; just be aware that what we believe is nice and warm will be different for your fur-buddy. Luke-warm is the best description we can offer. Also try introducing water a little at a time. If their attention is drawn toward their new rubber-ducky, they won’t notice the water is eventually lapping up under their leg-pits. Believe us, it will be appreciated big-time, by both parties!
Where do I start? You will need to wet their coat thoroughly before you begin, as shampoo will activate better when the hair is wet. However and where ever you choose to wash your dog, please don’t drown them in torrents of water. It’s a really good idea to start at the rear and work your way up. Back paws first, working up the legs to wet the rear end thoroughly. Then make your way up the torso and front legs, again from the paws up. This way they're getting used to the water first. You can use the shower rose, doggie sponge, a plastic jug or cup. Whatever you have available can be made to work, but have fun with it. Let them help…they’ll be more likely to stay focused on the job at hand.
Shampoo Application? As a helpful hint, we suggest a Mixer Bottle. A soft plastic bottle with single spout (like a tomato sauce bottle) works a treat. Pump Shampoo directly into the bottle. 'How much you ask?' For a very tiny puppy, try 2-3 pumps or, for a larger puppy 4-5 measures; so obviously size really does matter; then fill the rest of the bottle with warm water and give it a shake to mix thoroughly. Using the shampoo from the mixer allows the shampoo to distribute evenly throughout your puppy’s coat. It also goes exactly where you want it. Try it, we know you’ll like it!
Shampoo time? Means massage time. Just as you did with the water application, apply the shampoo from the rear end first and work your way forward. Use your mixer bottle and spread the product around, then massage their bodies working the product into their coat and skin. Work in the direction of their hair growth, they’ll love it…and so should you. Remember, your Puppy will only feel as good about this as you do; so worst case scenario…fake it ‘til you make it! Just make certain you are very thorough in all those hard to reach places; especially their under-belly, leg-pits and around their ears. Also a caution: take care of your back if you’re leaning over the bath or tub.
- The really dirty bits? As your puppy grows and becomes more adventurous…especially in the vegie patch out back - for those really dirty spots, paws, ears and the under-carriage; shampoo with concentrated shampoo so you can really get into those grubby bits. Yay – possum pooh no more!
SIX: Treats, toys & help at hand!
Verbal praise and doggie treats are also recommended for you to have on-hand. After all, generally speaking all canines have a food agenda and your puppy will be thrilled to know you’ve bought along some of their favourite treats. This is going to be a breeze! So what are you worried about?
If it’s your first time, maybe have a helper at hand, just in case you need extra support. Some owners prefer to have their dog tied up so they remain focused on the job. The dog that is. If you choose to tether your mate, don’t use their favourite leather collar. A nylon collar, especially for the wet job at hand will be a better choice over time. We believe that if the bath-time experience is a good one, you should not need to tether your dog but remember, start out how you mean to continue so there are not too many mixed messages.
Rinsing would have to be one of the most important tasks of the entire bath-time expedition. This time, rinse from the head down so that any shampoo residue is rinsed away from the eyes and down the torso. Water naturally falls away from the body, so gravity is working with you. You can use your hands to remove any excess water, please ensure that all product is removed during this process, especially around the ears, under the torso and leg-pits. By paying extra special attention to this part of the process, you are paving the way for healthy hair and skin.
"In addition, be sure you are rinsing your dog completely. Shampoo and/or conditioner residue can make your dog itch. Bendersky says diluting the shampoo can help (use a pitcher or bowl to pre-mix with water) and so does double checking to make sure you rinsed all the shampoo out, especially in heavily-coated breeds."
Let us stress again...you can never pay too much attention to rinsing your dog!
EIGHT: Do I really need to Condition my Puppy
Yes! No matter how good your dog haircare products claim to be, shampooing means cleansing away dirt and grime. This process will naturally take some of the hair and skin’s natural moisture balance with it. Using a professionally formulated pH balanced shampoo, like Underwater Dogs will do everything possible to protect and enrich your dog’s hair and skin. Conditioning is the finishing touch.
Whilst shampooing, the hair shaft opens up to allow cleansing agents to wash away grime. Once the conditioning agent is massaged through, the hair shaft is closed and moisture locked in.
You may condition your puppy when wet, massaging all over and into all nooks and crannies OR, you may towel dry and condition semi-wet. For your brand new puppy we suggest conditioning when wet and then rinsing off completely. When your Puppy becomes a Dog and dependent on their coat-type, you may play with this scenario. Wiry and longer-haired coats benefit from leave-in conditioning vs, short-haired, silky haired coats.
NINE: Drying off
We just love a good microfibre towel. They absorb a tonne of moisture and are easy to manoeuvre over your puppy’s bits and pieces, but really there are no set rules. Some even like to just shake it off…and then run amok. If this turns out to be your Pup then let’s suggest you keep them inside until dry. Wet puppy + soil = immediate loss of patience.
If you’re using a towel, just blot them rather than rub as this will help against matting build-up. Whatever you use, just make sure you wash towels thoroughly between use otherwise you’ll be drying your clean pup with a dirty towel.
Some canines enjoy a good blow-dry, but test this one out slowly and never make the experience a traumatic one. Blow from the paws up and from the rear so they get used to this rather unusual phenomena. They’ll quickly let you know if it’s not going to happen. Finally, remember to remove the cotton wadding from their ears and keep cosy & warm until dry.
TEN: Is there another seasoned bath-time canine in the House?
Do you have another Dog in the House? If there is and they’re seasoned when it comes to bath-time, think about using their familiarity with this process in the most positive of ways. Enlisting an experienced canine member of the family can help your puppy learn how to behave, relax and above all, enjoy their bath-time experience. As long as your puppy is well socialised and the two dogs know each other well, think about this as an option if you’re having difficulty at bath-time. After all, dogs that bathe together - stay together!
A note on Handling your new Puppy
Famous US Celebrity Dog Trainer Brian Kilcommons says:
Brian says, “On a daily basis, when your pup is sleepy, run your hands over her body and down her legs; touch her paws. Put your fingers between her paw pads, extend her nail, wiggle the toes, lift the ear flag, massage her gums, and generally put your fingers anywhere, that normal grooming and care will require you to touch.”
These Top 10 UWDOGS Tips and Tricks will help you and your family to create the perfect bath-time environment for your new Puppy. They’re also many of the reasons why when not paid attention too, bath-time might just become the bane of your canine experience.
Once implemented and consistently practiced, these bath-time strategies will give back to you and your family ten-fold. Remember all puppies are different, but you’re the leader of the pack, and with confidence comes calm and with practice comes experience. Like the toddler, every puppy has their own personality, and agenda. Just remember, you’re the leader of the pack!
If you’re reading this post thinking 'it’s all too hard' then let us remind you… It’s only as hard as you think. We hope this practice becomes a bath-time ritual with your new Pup, after all, once they trust you - they’re yours for life!
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