Here at Nilla’s Tub, we see a lot of dogs coming in for a bath.  Some dogs happily trot up the ramp into the tub and enjoy their bath, other dogs need a bit of coaxing and while it still isn’t their favorite activity, they tolerate it just fine.  Then there are some dogs that run the other way as soon as they realize what’s going on! 

You can make bathing your dog less of a dreaded chore and more of a positive experience by avoiding these 5 common mistakes.

1.Not Bathing Often Enough

Most dog owners have been led to believe that they should only bathe their dog once a month or even less.  The reason given is that more frequent bathing will cause the dog’s skin or coat to dry out, become irritated, or otherwise cause harm.  However, this is simply not true!  If you only bathe your dog a few times a year, they never get used to the process so they don’t have a chance to understand that the experience isn’t so bad.  

2.Using the Wrong Shampoo. 

Never use shampoo meant for people – even baby shampoo – as dogs have a completely different PH balance than humans. Look for a gentle, non-toxic, bio-degradable shampoo that is made for dogs and has essential oils and all-natural ingredients that you can pronounce and understand what they are. Avoid DEA, parabens, synthetic dyes, surfactants and synthetic perfumes or fragrance.  And don’t be fooled just because a bottle says “all natural”.  Anything can claim to be “all natural”.  

3.Using the Wrong Water Temperature

Use lukewarm water. Water that is too hot or too cold is unpleasant for your dog and will set them up to hate baths forever!  This is one reason we urge pet owners to NOT use the hose outside.  Water coming out of the hose is COLD – no matter how hot the air temperature.  

4.Using a Harsh Spray

A spray that is too strong can be scary for a dog as well as uncomfortable.  Use a hand-held nozzle and spray the back of their body first while you are also stroking their fur with your other hand.  Your hand softens the impact of the spray and helps to reassure them.  Another method that works well is to fill up a pitcher with water and pour the water over their body.  

5.Being Stressed Yourself. 

Dogs can sense if you are stressed or in a hurry.  While dealing with an un-cooperative pooch can certainly be frustrating, never yell or otherwise reprimand your dog.  That only makes things worse.  Try to be calm and relaxed and focus on making it a positive experience.  Use positive reinforcement – just like when training – lots of praise and treats!  This is one reason why bathing at home in your tub is usually a bad idea. It’s especially difficult to stay calm when bending over the tub and dealing with the slick surface that tends to exacerbate your pet’s anxiety.   

6.Not Protecting Eyes and Ears. 

 Don’t spray water directly onto your dog’s face.  It can be uncomfortable and even painful for water to get into their eyes. Instead, use a washcloth around their eyes.  You don’t want to get water in their ears as that can lead to infection. Use cotton balls to avoid this and wipe the ears with a washcloth or with ear wipes made especially for this purpose. 

Bathing your dog is a necessity.  It keeps your pet’s coat healthy, reduces shedding, can help with allergies, and minimizes the spread of dirt and germs in your home.  Your dog may never be one of those that joyfully leaps into the tub, but having the right environment and equipment goes a long way towards making bath time easy and fun.