Dog Bathing – How to Bathe a Dog with a Fun Game

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.

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  1. Michael Neland says

    I found that our husky problem with a bath was not the water but more the temp of water ! The body temp of a dog is around 102 deg ! so if you use a hose they freeze ! the first baths were very bad ! Now we use the bath tub and at the mention of a bath she will run and get in tub, so we have to spell it out like a kid ! Hope this helps

  2. Hannah says

    What type of brush do you prefer for your Shiba? I just got a pup a few weeks ago and would like to start getting him used to being groomed. Thanks!

    • shibashake says

      With my Shiba I started with a soft brush. It was just a small soft brush that I got from the pet store. I always start small, with light strokes, and then only very slowly increase the challenge when Sephy is comfortable with each stage.

      After Sephy was comfortable with the soft brush, I started to introduce the Furminator using a similar process. That is what I use today with Sephy and my Huskies.

  3. davy says

    I wash and groom my dog every friday and wednesday is that too healthy . My poodle is about 3 years of age and my boxer dog is about 1 year old . i have a male and female . lol. they are kids to me my whife and two daughters just adore them even the boxer lol . well thnxs please email me back for more info i will be happy to speak to you i go to the poa church you should visit its great well i guess im getting into more deeper detail , glad to talk to you 🙂 SINCERLY DAVY SHERRILL

  4. Octavio says

    I have a question. I’ve never had a Siberian husky before. She’s a Copper color. I wish to give her a bath soon but don’t know which shampoo to use on her as i hear some shampoos fade the color away. Also i live in Arizona so trying keep her coat as best as posible. I’ve hear a lot people use a brand Best shot. Any recommendations ? Thanks, by the way nice webpage i’ve read most of it.

    • shibashake says

      I don’t currently have a favorite brand, but I *do* make sure to –
      1. Use a shampoo that is specially formulated for dogs. Human shampoos can cause skin irritation to a dog.
      2. Not shampoo my Sibes too often. Too much shampoo-ing can wash away the natural body oils, which protect their skin.

      Where did you read that regular shampoo can cause coat color to fade? The only special case I know of are bleaching shampoos. Here is an interesting article on bleaching shampoo and other types of whitening shampoos-

      If there are particular brands of regular shampoo that are known to have bleaching effects, please let me know so that I can add that to the article. Thanks.

    • Octavio says

      Also what about sunscreen. I read just good things about them till i found one article that talked about ingredients. What’s your opinion on these? I have cousin who has some huskys one of them is a light red female which now you can’t tell she was light red because of the sunrays here in arizona. According to the webpage they recommend a baby sunscreen lotion but has to be all organic.

    • shibashake says

      I do not use sunscreen on any of my dogs, so it is not something that I have looked at in great detail.

      I would talk to a vet about this and see what he says.

  5. Mari's Family says

    Sorry about the extremely late reply! 🙂

    She has been so much better lately-she even likes walking through a fountain. She hates the bathtub as you mentioned with Sephy….We’re not even going to try that again, haha!
    She seems okay with the sprinklers/hose…it’ll be even more fun in the summer (so I bet she’ll tolerate it even more then). We recently got to meet with other shibas and heard all there tales of bathing horrors. 🙂 Thanks so much!!

    I’m sure we’ll be back with more questions soon haha!

    -Mari’s family

  6. eddiesmom says

    i usually give eddie baths every couple of months, the vet suggested 3 times a year imagine that on an all white husky that just loves mud yea just my damn luck lol. but the dry shampoo works wonders its great i also use baby wipes un scented for sensitive skin for the tail and bum area and under carrige lol because lets face it eddies def a boy and sometimes he doesnt raise that leg high enough lol. but he loves baths and showers imagine my suprise when i hear someone nudge the shower door(while iam in there) open and find eddie trying to drink the water from the shower head and using me as a stepping stool too the things us pet owners go thru i tell ya

    • shibashake says

      he loves baths and showers imagine my surprise when i hear someone nudge the shower door(while i am in there) open and find eddie trying to drink the water from the shower head

      LOL! Eddie is such a character! 😀

      None of my furry ones like water. Lara likes to drink from the water spigot but that is about it. She doesn’t mind the rain, but does not enjoy any kind of water spray from a hose. She went into the kiddie pool when she was young, but it was not really her thing.

      Hugs to Eddie!

  7. Mari's Family says

    Hello! We’re back! Mari (shiba inu) is almost a year old now, and it’s been a long time since she’s been bathed. When she was little, we tried giving her a bath, and she tolerated it. But several months later, she wouldn’t even let us try. All we could do was spritz her down a tiny bit, plug our ears to mute the shiba scream, and chase her around the house trying to get the bubbles off her. It was….interesting. 🙂 She did have a bath awhile ago after staying at a kennel for a few days, and they also said the experience was “interesting”. I think it’s time for a bath, and we’re a bit nervous. The only good thing is she’s becoming much more interested in water-she has run through sprinklers, dipped her paws in a lake, and other silly things like that. When she was a “baby” we got her a kiddie pool (the shallow plastic kind) but she hated it. Do you have any other pointers on how to get her to enjoy, or at least tolerate, a bath (or even a rinse)?

    Thanks so much, and our family is still enjoying your website (it’s been so much help to us while Mari’s growing up!

    -Mari’s Family

    • shibashake says

      Hello Mari’s Family,

      So good to see you all again.

      plug our ears to mute the shiba scream, and chase her around the house trying to get the bubbles off her. It was….interesting.

      LOL! Yeah Sephy was like that as well. He really didn’t like having a bath in the tub. He didn’t like the kiddie pool either.

      The only time Sephy is ok with water is when he is engaged in doing something fun. For example, when we took him to the dog park with our neighbor’s dogs, he was happy to jump, play, and wrestle in mud puddles. He also loves chasing games, so he is ok with water when we play the water hose game.

      Does Mari have a dog friend that likes water? That may get her to relax more around water. What are some of the activities that Mari likes doing most? Sephy forgets about his dislike for water when his mind is engaged with fun play. 😀

      Also, Sephy totally hated the enclosed space within the bathtub. He is a lot better with water outside, and on a non-cold, non-slippery surface.

      Hope this helps. Let us know how it goes.

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