Thursday, January 17, 2013

It's bath time!

We have a gorgeous, energetic 7 year old husky mix. He has blue eyes that seem to ensnare you with their gaze. They are so mesmerizing you don't even realize he just invited himself onto the couch and stole your dinner off of your plate. He's that good.

He also sheds every second of every day. We have hair everywhere. We could probably take him to the groomer's every week to get his coat blown out to help with the constant shedding. But I have a hard enough time paying for a grooming appointment once a month. More frequent appointments are out of the question.

Maybe you have a dog and you've tried to bath him or her at home before. Maybe your dog loves taking a bath. Maybe you love it. Me and my dog? We didn't love it. If you have ever bathed your dog at home, you know that hosing the dog off outside is OK in the summer, but always works better if you don't live in an apartment and if you have a fenced in yard. Or maybe you've tried a bath in the tub or the shower stall and you can already hear the sound of sliding of toenails as you read this.

Our usual at-home bathing routine consisted of the dog sliding around the shower stall and freaking out, me getting drenched and straining my back, and both of us hating every single moment of the bath.

I decided to take matters into my own hands and find a better solution to the groomer bills and the bathtime struggle at home.

Recipe for a Peaceful Dog Bath


  • bathing tub - big enough for the dog to sit and stand, small enough for the dog to feel safe and secure inside the walls of the tub
  • yummy dog treats - some for training and some for reinforcement during the bath
  • homemade dog shampoo or other shampoo
  • small container or cup - you'll use this to pour water over your dog's face and other body parts
  • small tub that fits next to the bathing tub to store a little water
  • comb or brush - for a post-bath brushing
  • old T-Shirt that fits over your dog's head and body
  • 3-4 bath towels
  • 1 washcloth


Step 1
Teach your dog to love the bathing tub. 

I used an old plastic bin that I had been using to store some random crap. I emptied the bin and placed it in the middle of the living room floor. Next, I tried getting my dog to hop inside, but he couldn't figure it out. 

Try your best to help the dog associate the bathing tub with something positive... like a yummy treat! If your dog is afraid of the tub, give him/her a treat for sitting as close as possible to the tub. Start to build his/her confidence about being near the tub. If your dog is afread of the tub, you might need to take this slowly until you build his/her confidence up. 

My pup wasn't afraid of the tub, so I lifted him up and placed him inside. He got treats for standing still inside the tub, sitting inside it, and staying for longer and longer times. We worked on getting used to the tub for probably 30 minutes. Once your dog is more comfortable with the bathing tub, put the bathing tub in the bathroom shower or tub and practice again. Next, take a break!

Step 2
Get your bathroom ready.

Place your bathing tub in the shower or bathtub. Get all your supplies at the ready. Fill your small tub with warm water. Put on your swimsuit. Have your treats close by. Get your dog! 

Step 3
Place your dog in the tub. It's bathing time!

Give your dog treats for cooperating every 5-10 minutes or as necessary. Start getting your dog wet by scooping the warm water in your small tub with the small container or cup you have. Pour that over the dog's coat. Avoid his face for now. 

Step 4
Soaking wet!

Soak your dog's coat by pouring water over the dog's coat with the small container/cup you're using. If you have a removable showerhead and it doesn't freak your dog out, use that for his/her body because it's much faster. Soak the entire coat. Soak your washcloth in clean water and use it to wet the fur around the dog's face.

Step 5

Put soap on your hands and lather it into your dog's coat. Give your dog a gentle massage. Don't rush and encourage your dog to relax and enjoy the moment. Try to enjoy the moment yourself. Work the soap into the fur around your dog's face. 

Step 6

Maybe you already do this next step, but it was a new one for me and my dog. Wet the washcloth and use it to wipe the soap from your dog's face. Usually I would gently spray the dog's face with water to wash off all the soap. This new approach was much more enjoyable for both of us and worked really well. Don't forget to keep giving your dog treats all throughout this process. Use the showerhead to rinse your dog, or use the cup full of water, or both. You might need to scoop out the dirty water from the bathing tub. I had to do this twice. Once your dog is totally rinsed off, scoop enough water out so that it will be easy and safe for the dog to get out of the tub. 

Step 7
Time to dry off!

While your dog is still in the bathing tub, start to dry their face and back. Dry their legs as best you can. Get another towel ready and have your T-Shirt close by. If your dog is capable and comfortable with jumping out of the bathing tub (think back to your practice runs earlier), instruct them to jump out. If not, lift them out of the bathing tub. Give them another treat and finish towelling them dry. Put the old T-Shirt on them to help soak up a little extra moisture from their coat. Let them run freeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee! This is my dog's favorite part.

Step 8
Enjoy a clean, good-smelling dog and love the extra $45 you saved by avoiding the groomers!

Step 9
After you have washed all the towels and the T-Shirt, pack it all away in the bathing tub. 

I chose to indulge my newly found smarts by having a marathon Netflix afternoon with my clean pup by my side. This bathing lasted about 2 weeks before it was time to get back in the bathtub. All the usual stress and backache was missing from the whole experience which sealed the deal for me. Share how you keep your dog fresh and clean!

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