How to Bath your Puppy for the very first time.
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Welcome to Book Three – ‘Grooming Talk’ from our blog series ‘A Life with Dogs’ brought to you by the Underwater Dogs Haircare Co.
So that special day arrived, and your new puppy was successfully introduced to your family.
It was a day that you’ll never forget.
Rearing a Puppy is very much like raising a toddler; everything is looked at through ‘puppy-dog-eyes’ of curiosity and marvel.”
Since then, it’s been one day at a time… so many things for your puppy to learn – and you too!
In Book Three of ‘A Life with Dogs’ blog series – GROOMING TALK – we’ll cover bath-time, products to use (or not to use), and how often you should bath your dog.
We’ll also take a look at some quick tips for home grooming, what items you might need in your grooming arsenal, and the all important nail clip and ear clean.
Beginning with bath-time; the professional haircare experts at the Underwater Dogs Haircare Company know where bath-time is at.
With a few good pointers, we’ll help give you that sense of comfort required when bathing your energiser puppy for the very first time. To help you enjoy the occasion, and create a safe and secure environment.
Let’s get started!
Top 10 Tips for Bathing your new Puppy!
No one is saying you’re going to enjoy this experience from the get-go.
In fact, nor are we suggesting you ever will but we do promise that with time and patience, this process will get easier. And the sooner you start the better.
Everything that you endeavour to do now to ensure your puppies very first bath is stress-free and as happy an experience as possible, will be essential to securing favourable bath-time behaviour for the rest of their lives.
Now stay positive!
Juliana Weiss-Roessler, free-lance writer for the Emmy-nominated reality series ‘Dog Whisperer’ says
“If your dog hates bath time, it’s likely you do, too.
It may be hard to imagine that you could turn it around and start viewing a bath as a time for bonding instead, but it is possible!
The key is to have a strategy for the change.”
We definitely want bath-time to be fun-time at Underwater Dogs – so let’s start from the beginning.
ONE: How are you feeling?
There is no doubt, that if you’re feeling apprehensive about bathing your puppy for the first time. So will they.
There is nothing like bathing a new born baby for the very first time. And as most, if not all Mothers will admit, it’s a time of mixed emotion and to a certain extent, fear.
But if you are well prepared and have help at hand for this maiden voyage, there is no reason why your pup shouldn’t have a ball.
After all, we want to make this bathing experience a fun one so that moving forward your dog enjoys, (or at the least tolerates) bath-time.
After all, let’s get serious…it’s going to be necessary!
Being prepared is definitely the key. Get everything you need before you mention the “B” word. They can smell your thought process before you’ve even begun, so having everything at your fingertips will mean you’ll be way ahead.”
TWO: Where are you going to bath your Pup?
A good question and a decision we encourage you to think about carefully.
Depending on the size of your pup and how big they are going to grow, there definitely needs to be a plan with the future in mind.
But as a new puppy, bath-time needs to feels as safe and secure as possible. We suggest the sink, bath-tub, shower or laundry-tub.
The smaller the area to wallow, the less frightening although let’s be sensible….the less water on the floor is going to be a bonus!
Consider also that Puppies are naturally predisposed to play, so why not introduce them to bath-time along with their favourite toys.
Might just keep their minds off the task at hand!
THREE: What products should I use?
There are no secrets here. You need a great Shampoo and Conditioner made especially for dogs!
Never use a shampoo or conditioner made for humans, OR the hand-soap, OR the dish-washing detergent.
The pH is markedly different, therefore all the care in the world plus YOUR favourite haircare product just ain’t going to cut it.
If you do use your own shampoo, your dog’s acid mantle will without doubt be stripped of its natural oils and the skin will in time (if not immediately) itch like Hades.
So do your pup a favour and use a superior soap-free and pH balanced shampoo and conditioner .
They’ll gain all the benefits of scientifically researched and developed formulas that will take care of their hair and skin well-being.
Nothing like a clean and itch-free puppy. Then be prepared for them to go outside and roll in something messy, coz you can count on that!
FOUR: Before getting wet.
Just a couple of suggestions to begin with:
Take them for a quick walk.
Puppies love to play, and love nothing more than exploring and burning off energy.
We suggest you give them a quick trot around the block before their bath. It will help calm them down and tire them out just enough to dampen a little of that awesome puppy-spirit.
Give them a good brush.
This will help the process ten-fold. Removing burrs or foreign objects from their coat pre-wash and easing out any tangles or matting will make combing through later a breeze.
What kind of ears does your Puppy have?
Regardless of the answer to this question we encourage you to protect your puppies ears by using cotton wadding – to stop water getting into the ear canal; as this can predispose your dog to ear infections. Just don’t forget to remove the wadding when you’re finished. If your dog is getting ear infections often, this could be a sign you’re not cleaning their ears properly after they get wet. Perhaps think about cleaning them BEFORE & AFTER the bath.
What if my Puppy does not like getting water on his face?
Some dogs will happily sit under the tap, water cascading and think nothing of it; others won’t like water on their faces at all and will be terribly vocal about it. In this case, you might like to try a sponge. Using a sponge to wet, clean and rinse, might just be what the doggie ordered… just take extra care with those who have multiple facial wrinkles and longer than usual ear flaps. If your dog’s ears stand up to attention, cup them with your hand to ensure water does not enter the canal, or use cotton wadding as discussed earlier.
A Non-Slip Mat?
This is a great idea if you are washing in the shower or bath-tub. The non-slip mat will give your puppy extra confidence once they know they’re not likely to slip.
“Cleaning the ears prior to a bath will help remove the accumulated dirt and, applying a few drops of ear cleaning solution after the bath will change the PH of the humidity accumulated in the ear canal, preventing bacteria to grow. This process should be followed every time the dog’s head gets wet, including after a walk in the rain, a fun time at the lake, beach or around the sprinklers.”
FIVE: Getting Wet?
Let’s dispel the myth immediately…
You will get wet!
Now that’s out of the way, try to introduce your new Pup to the water gradually; from the paws up.
Depending on your circumstances, just remember to make the experience a good one. Ever had a cold shower?
Perhaps consider nice WARM water right from the get-go.
Just be aware, that what we believe to be nice and warm will be different for your fur-bud. Luke-warm is the best description we can offer.
Also, try introducing water a little at a time. If their attention is drawn toward their new rubber-ducky, they won’t notice the water is eventually lapping up under their leg-pits.
Where do I start?
Wet their coat thoroughly before you begin, as shampoo will activate better when the hair is wet (however, please don’t drown them in torrents of water).
It’s a really good idea to start at the rear and work your way up, back paws first, working up the legs to the rear end.
Then make your way up the torso and front legs, again from the paws up. This way they’re getting used to the water first.
You can use the shower rose, a doggie sponge, a plastic jug or cup; whatever you have available can be made to work, but have fun with it.
Let them help…they’ll be more likely to stay focused on the job at hand.
As a helpful hint, we suggest a Mixer Bottle. A soft plastic bottle with single spout (like a tomato sauce bottle) works a treat. Pump Shampoo directly into the bottle, and add warm water.
“How much you ask?”
For a very tiny puppy, try 2-3 pumps or, for a larger puppy 4-5 measures; so obviously size really does matter.
Then fill the bottle with warm water and give it a shake to mix.
Using the shampoo from the mixer allows the shampoo to distribute evenly throughout your puppy’s coat. And, it goes exactly where you want it.
So try it, we know you’ll like it
Shampoo time means massage time.
Use your mixer bottle and spread the product evenly, then massage their bodies working the product into both skin and coat.
Work in the direction of their hair growth, they’ll love it…and so should you. Just make certain you are very thorough in all those hard to reach places; especially their under-belly, leg-pits and around their ears.
Remember, your Puppy will only feel as good about this as you do; so worst case scenario…fake it ‘til you make it! Caution: Please make sure you take care of your back if you’re leaning over the bath or tub.
The really dirty bits?
If your dog is really dirty, try a second shampoo. The first shampoo rids the coat of all the greasy, oily bits; the second shampoo will give that deep, nourishing cleanse.
As long as you are using a quality pH balanced shampoo, this process will be absolutely fine for their skin health.
As your puppy grows and becomes more adventurous (especially in the vege patch), use concentrated shampoo on the really dirty bits like paws, ears, tail and under-carriage.
You’ll understand exactly what we mean when these situations present themselves.
SIX: Treats, toys & help at hand!
Verbal praise and doggie treats are also recommended for you to have on-hand.
After all, generally speaking all canines have a food agenda and your puppy will be thrilled to know you’ve bought along some of their favourite kind.
This is going to be a breeze, so what are you worried about?
If it’s your first time, maybe have a helper at hand – just in case you need extra support.
Some owners prefer to have their dog tied up so they remain focused on the job. The dog that is.
If you choose to tether your mate, don’t use their favourite leather collar. A nylon collar, especially for the wet job at hand will be a better choice over time.
At Underwater Dogs, we believe that if the bath-time experience is a good one, you should not need to tether your dog but remember, start out how you mean to continue, then there won’t be any mixed messages.
Rinsing is the next most important task.
This time, rinse from the head down so that any shampoo residue is rinsed away from the eyes and down the torso.
Water naturally falls away from the body so gravity is working with you, and you can use your hands to remove any excess water.
Please ensure that all product is removed during this process, especially around the ears and under the torso.
By paying extra special attention to this part of the process, you are paving the way for a healthy hair and skin future for your dog.
In addition, be sure you are rinsing your dog completely. Shampoo residue can make your dog itch, so double checking to make sure you rinsed all the shampoo out, especially in heavily-coated breeds is essential.”
Let us stress again…you can never pay too much attention to rinsing your dog!
EIGHT: Do I really need to Condition my Puppy?
No matter how good your dog haircare products claim to be, shampooing means cleansing away dirt and grime.
This process will ‘naturally’ take some of the hair and skin’s natural moisture balance with it.
Using a professionally formulated pH balanced shampoo will do everything possible to protect and enrich your dog’s hair and skin, but conditioning is the finishing touch.
Cleansing sees the hair shaft open-up to allow cleansing agents to wash away grime.
The conditioning agent closes the hair shaft, and locks in moisture.
You may condition your puppy when wet, massaging all over and into all nooks and crannies OR, you may towel dry and condition semi-wet (but only if you have a recommended Leave-in Conditioner).
For your brand new puppy, we suggest conditioning when wet and then rinsing off completely.
When your Puppy becomes a Dog, and dependent on their coat or skin-type, you may play with this scenario.
A Leave-in Conditioner is beneficial for those who require extra skin nourishment, like wiry and longer-haired coats vs, short-haired and/or silky haired coats, or those who have sensitive, itchy or allergy prone skin-types.
The case for conditioners – Shampoos by design are used for cleaning- removing unwanted grime from the skin and coat. But shampooing, without sealing the coat afterwords, leaves the hair shaft open– at that point residue can enter and oils and hydration escapes. What you can do is use a conditioner after shampooing to close the hair cuticle and restore hydration, moisture and elasticity.
Conditioners also fill in the damaged hair that drying, brushing, dematting and rubbing causes. Just normal wear and tear chips away at the hair cuticle. Conditioners can help to remove the cuticle to a smooth state and one that gives a more lustrous appearance and feel.”
NINE: Drying off
We just love a good chamois OR microfibre towel. They absorb a tonne of moisture and are easy to manoeuvre over your puppy.
Of course there are no set rules, some even like to just shake it off…and then run amok.
If this turns out to be your Pup, then we suggest you keep them inside until dry. Wet puppy + vege patch = immediate loss of patience.
If you’re using a towel, just blot them rather than rub as this will help against matting build-up.
Whatever you use, just make sure you wash towels thoroughly between use otherwise you’ll be drying your clean pup with a dirty towel.
What about a Blow-dry?
Some canines enjoy a good blow-dry, but test this one out slowly and never make the experience a traumatic one. Blow from the paws up, and from the rear so they get used to this rather unusual phenomena.
They’ll quickly let you know if it’s not going to happen!
Finally, remember to remove the cotton wadding from their ears and keep cosy & warm until dry.
TEN: Is there another seasoned bath-time canine in the House?
Do we have another Dog in the House?
If there is, and they’re seasoned when it comes to bath-time, perhaps think about using their familiarity with this process in the most positive of ways.
Enlisting an experienced canine member of the family can help your puppy learn how to behave, relax and above all, enjoy their bath-time experience.
As long as your puppy is well socialised and the two dogs know each other well, think about this as an option if you’re having difficulty.
After all, dogs that bathe-together-stay together!
A note on handling your new Puppy
Want a puppy that grows to be putty in your hands (lol)?
Famous US Celebrity Dog Trainer Brian Kilcommons says
A dog who can handle your handling is easier to groom, less stressed at the veterinarian and more relaxed about home health maintenance like ear cleaning, or wound treatment.”
Brian says, “On a daily basis, when your pup is sleepy, run your hands over her body and down her legs; touch her paws. Put your fingers between her paw pads, extend her nail, wiggle the toes, lift the ear flag, massage her gums, and generally put your fingers anywhere, that normal grooming and care will require you to touch.”
We firmly encourage this practice become a daily ritual, after all, once they trust you they’re yours for life!
A note on Aquaphobia
Kelsy Peterson Author from Your Dog Advisor says
Aquaphobia by definition is the irrational fear of water. While it is typically connected to humans, it can also occur in our four-legged friends. Aquaphobia in dogs can range from the fear of snow and rain to the fear of large bodies of water.
It’s important to understand the level of your dog’s aquaphobia. Are they fearful of all water, including rain and snow? Or does it start with a bath and go up from there? There are different techniques for different levels of fear.”
If you have a dog with Aquaphobic tendencies, read Kelsy’s article in full here.
Dog Aquaphobia: The Fear of Water and How to Help Your Dog Overcome It
These Top 10 Underwater Dogs Bath-time Tips will help you and your family along the footpath to creating the perfect bath-time environment for your puppy.
Once implemented and consistently practiced, these bath-time strategies will give back to you and your family ten-fold.
Remember, all puppies are different but you are the leader of the pack, and with confidence comes calm and with practice comes experience.
Pup-Update – 1-2years
Jerry is a groomers dream… so why would I play around with that! I just love watching him be pampered by the lovely Daniel and Emma from Hills Professional Mobile Groomers and OMG just look at how handsome he is! There’s no doubt that the products you use play such a major role in the consistency of your dog’s health & wellbeing. Cocker’s are susceptible to skin sensitivities, so it’s been imperative we use a top quality range to ensure Jerry’s skin health is A1. We’ve been thrilled with the Underwater Dog’s range, so nourishing and luxurious; the fact that he smells delicious, is the icing on the cake. Can’t stop sniffing his furs after a bath. Delicious!
Ash Sukhwani a.k.a. Mother of Jerry
Jerry – Born ‘Royoni Naughty-on-Arrival’ June 17, 2017
Follow Jerry’s adventures on Instagram @jerrythecockerspan
Now that you’re armed with the tools you’ll need to give puppy that first bath, let’s talk shampoo. After all, at Underwater Dogs Haircare, that’s what we do.
Join us for some straight talk on pH Balance, and why you should accept nothing less for your wee pup next.
Watch this space – Chapter Eighteen – Coming Soon
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A Life with Dogs is brought to you by the Underwater Dogs Haircare Co.
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Professional grooming salon formulas, naturally moisturizing shampoos and conditioners soap-free, paraben-free and pH balanced especially for dogs.
We won these products in a giveaway and just tried them for the first time! They smell AMAZING! I couldn’t stop smelling my dog afterwards. We have never used a conditioner before and it was really nice. My little Molly is still so soft after 3 days! We had been in communication with UWDOGS all the way from Australia and they were magnificent in helping getting the products shipped to the US. We are very happy and will be purchasing the products in the future! Thank you
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Photo Credits: Molly @mollypopoodle Bronte @bronte_the_rescue_pup, Kobe, Mimi, Rascals @my_3_poodle_rascals, Ollie & Sandy, Frank @paddington_frank, Coco @coco_the_companion, Mimi, Jerry @jerrythecockerspan