The companionship that comes with owning a pet knows no bounds. The best ones aren’t so much a domesticated animal as a lifelong friend. They play with us. They listen to us confide in them. They accept us. What they don’t do well is stand still in soapy water and let us wash them.
“Washing your dog can be a fun and bonding experience,” says Tiffany Edwards, grooming manager for Petstock. “But as with everything, it’s all about having the right set-up and planning it all beforehand.”
So when your pet starts to pong, how to ensure your bond stays strong? We asked Edwards for some of her tips to make the experience better for both of you.
Pick your spot
If you’ve got a small enough pup and large enough bathtub in your house, it’s an easy decision. But with bigger dogs, there’s more to consider.
“You can still do it in the bath, but it’s better to have a handheld showerhead rather than just running water from the tap,” says Edwards. “You could also do it outside, but make sure they’re tethered so you can keep them from rolling straight into the dirt afterwards.”
For those in apartments without access to a bath or outdoor section, Petstock offers a DIY dog wash service.
Get them used to the environment
We know dogs can cause a ruckus when they sense a bath is on the cards. Edwards recommends getting them used to the environment so they aren’t put off by the sensation. This includes having them interact with where the bath or tub is even if it isn’t bathtime. This allows makes it easier for when you do introduce water.
“Some dogs will dive straight in and love the water immediately,” says Edwards. “But for the ones who are a bit more unsure or anxious, let them come in and experience the space – the sounds, the smell of where [the bath will be]. Next time they come in, they’ll know it’s alright.”
Prepare ahead of time – including shampoo
Before the bath itself, make sure you’ve got everything you need. “There are so many things to consider,” says Edwards. “Is there a slip mat so they don’t slide around? Will you be using a brush or just your hands? Where’s the towel? Are shampoos and conditioners ready?”
Edwards also gets a lot of questions about which shampoos to use. The answer is it depends on the dog and their coat type.
“If they have any skin irritations we might go with a more gentle shampoo,” says Edwards. “But if they’re okay with any kind, the owner might choose it based on smell.” There are also some shampoos specifically for colour (such as those that make white coats brighter) or based on the hair texture. Edwards says oatmeal-based products can be gentle and soothing on the skin, and for puppies there are a range of shampoos and conditioners tailored to their age.
Make it a positive experience
For the bath itself, it’s important to make it fun and relaxing for your dog so they look forward to their next bath rather than dread it or panic when it comes around.
There are accessories that can soothe them and their worries. Consider using a diffuser such as Adaptil, which releases pheromones similar to what a puppy might smell from their mum. Tranquil Treats will also help calm them down.
“It’s really about familiarisation – make it comfortable, make it warm,” says Edwards. “The more they get used to that experience, the easier it becomes for you as well.”
Afterwards is just as important
Having a microfibre or shammy towel nearby for when the bath is finished helps remove excess water, meaning when you shift to drying with a regular towel or a blow dryer it will take a shorter amount of time.
When it comes to hair trims, dogs can also get nervous around the clippers, so it’s important to get them used to that sensation too.
“Even for things like the blow dryer,” says Edwards. “If you’re drying your hair it can be helpful to have them in the room with you, and you can gently let them feel it on their own hair. That can change how they feel about it so they’re less spooked later on.”
Finally don’t forget to reward them for being cooperative in the bath –treats as an incentive gives them more reason to behave the next time around.
This article is produced by Broadsheet in partnership with Petstock.