Dog baths are usually more for us, and less for the dog.
When I go walking with Siberian Husky Shania, she gets the most excited over animal stuff, including bits of fur and bones. She will roll over them from various different angles, smell them, lick them, and wish that she could eat them.
On the other hand, I have never seen her get excited over perfume and other artificial scents, no matter what they cost, and what designer name is attached to the bottle.
From observing my dogs, they seem most attracted to the smell of food, especially bacon and cheese. They are also attracted to the natural smell of people and other animals, including other dogs, cats, squirrel and deer. What these animals leave behind, is also of great interest.
How Often to Bathe a Dog
How often we bathe our dog is totally dependent on us. For example, show dogs and therapy dogs may get bathed more often, as part of their job. There are good shampoos nowadays, that are made specially for dogs. These shampoos are mild, and do not overly dry out, or irritate our dog’s skin and fur.
Even so, my breeder only bathes her dogs at most once every week.
Bathing our dog every day or every other day, risks washing away necessary oils from their coat, and may make it rough and brittle.
If we are not planning to show our dogs or visit health facilities for therapy work, then it is not usually necessary to give them so many baths. The general feeling of most dog owners, is to bathe the dog when his body starts to smell. This will largely be dependent on breed, and the activity and environment of the dog.
Also note though, that a dog often smells not because of body odor, but because of gum disease or a smelly mouth. In addition to keeping our dog’s coat clean, we also want to clean our dog’s teeth.
Instead of frequent bathing, we can brush our dog’s coat to remove loose hair as well as dirt. This will keep our dog comfortable, and get rid of grass seeds that make poke into, or puncture our dog’s skin. Frequent brushing will also bring fleas and ticks to our notice, so that we may quickly and safely remove them.
We can also give our dog a waterless bath using powder, spray, or foam based dry shampoo. With dry shampoo we just apply it on our dog’s coat, and then brush.
Another alternative is to wipe-down our dog with a wet rag or bath wipes, especially when he has a lot of surface dirt or mud. I usually give my dog a wipe-down, after he has been to the dog park or dog daycare.
Dogs often grab each other on the neck during play, so the fur gets dirty with saliva and dirt after a vigorous play session.
Why Dogs Dislike Taking Baths
While deciding how often to bathe our dog, we should also take into account the associated stress and discomfort of bathing.
Dogs generally dislike taking baths in a tub.
- The tub surface is cold, wet, slippery, and uncomfortable.
- The dog is required to just stand there, while water is poured and sprayed on him. He must stay calm while we handle and touch him all over his body. Then, he has to go through strange smelling shampooing, and then more water.
- In the bathroom, the tub space is enclosed. This can create stress in many dogs because they are trapped, and unable to flee, if something should occur.
My dogs all dislike taking baths in the tub, but they enjoy walking or playing in the rain. In the latter case, they get to be on a comfortable, non-slippery surface. In addition, they get to move around in an open space, while engaged in a fun activity.
How to Bathe a Dog
There are already many well written tutorials on how to bathe our dog in a tub. Here is one that I like from the ASPCA.
My Shiba Inu really hates traditional tub bathing. Therefore, instead of the regular tub bath, we play the water hose game.
Before the bath -
- I make sure to brush him, remove tangles and mats, as well as check him for ticks.
- At this stage, I remove all grass seeds that have lodged onto his fur. It is important to regularly check our dog’s fur for these grass seeds, which may often be sharp and puncture the skin. It is best to remove all these organic matter before a bath. Otherwise, we may push the sharp seeds even further in, when we massage our dog’s body during bathing.
- If there is sap, tar, or other sticky substances, I use Crisco Shortening to remove it. I only leave it on temporarily, and supervise my dog during that time, so that there is no licking. Some people suggest adding some lemon juice to it to prevent licking. If there is a lot of tar, it may be most efficient to clip off some of the fur using appropriate scissors or clippers. Do not use gasoline, kerosene, or other toxic chemicals on our dog.
Finally, I gather all my bath supplies together including shampoo, wash cloth, and drying towels. I put all my supplies in a safe and dry place that I can easily get to.
During the bath -
I set the water hose nozzle so that it shoots out a jet of water, then move the jet around for my dog to chase. I make sure to only spray it on him from farther away, so that the force of the water is not too great.
I stop from time to time, and do some obedience training to make sure my dog is not overly excited. He is not allowed to jump on me or the hose, during the game. If he jumps, I stop the game temporarily.
After a fun chase session, I give Shiba a wipe down and some shampooing, if necessary. I use a simple nylon lead to keep Sephy still, during the wipe down. If I want to shampoo, then I take the usual safety measures -
- No shampoo on the face. I only start from the neck down.
- No water in the ears. Use cotton balls if necessary and remember to remove them before restarting the game.
To wash off the shampoo, I switch the nozzle to a softer, wider shower spray. Make sure to rinse off all of the shampoo. Otherwise, shampoo residue may lead to skin irritation.
Once I am done, we start another fun play session. In the end, I dry my dog with a large towel, and then he will usually go off to dry himself in the sun.
Naturally, if our dog does not enjoy water, then this game may not be for him. In addition, this is an outside game, and only appropriate during warmer weather.
By playing the water hose game, bathing becomes a fun experience rather than a stressful, fearful torture session that needs to be endured.