Cuteness aside, bringing your puppy home can be overwhelming and taking care of them is no easy feat, with bathing your puppy being no exception. Each dog reacts differently to a little paw submersion in the bathtub, so it's essential to make sure your puppy is always comfortable. Don't be afraid to revisit our tips should your pup-tub training not be going so swimmingly.
From your puppy standing completely still, to attempting the great escape causing waves of disproportional order, as puppy owners, we've all seen a new side to our little four-legged companion when bath time strikes.
Whether your puppy is a non-malting fluff ball or a shedding-machine, getting your new companion enjoying a splash in the bath will make for many years of good hygiene and a gorgeous smelling dog.
We're going to run you through 6 simple tips to hopefully have your puppy loving bath time, so those muddy walks and subsequent puppy-spa sessions don't become such a chore.
Before we move on to our six tips to get your puppy to love bath time, here are a few frequently asked questions when it comes to bathing your puppy:
What do I need to bath my puppy?
Here's a quick checklist to make sure you've got everything you need to bathe your puppy:
- Bath / Sink / Water Bucket
- Natural Dog shampoo
- Treats and Toys
- Towels (+/- hairdryer)
Which dog shampoo is best, and where to buy it?
Choosing a fully Natural Dog Shampoo will help clean your puppy’s coat, and leave it smelling incredible, without disrupting their normal essential oils or upsetting their sensitive skin. See our full Top Dawg Natural Dog Shampoo collection.
What age should I bath my puppy?
Typically, your puppy is ready to begin experiencing bath time when they're eight weeks or older (source: Purina). With a lot of puppies arriving at their new home at around eight weeks old, it’s a good idea to let them settle in for a few days so they can get used to their surroundings.
How often should I bath my puppy?
This will totally depend on your puppy’s coat type and how dirty they get when out on walks! As your puppy is still developing, try not to bathe them too regularly (every 2-4 weeks is plenty), and apply your Natural Dog Shampoo sparingly to their coat. If you need to bathe them more regularly, do not panic as long as you are using Natural Dog Shampoo.
What temperature for a puppy bath?
This doesn't need overcomplicating, keep your puppy’s bath temperature lukewarm and don't forget to check the shower head/tap temperature regularly to make sure your puppy is always comfortable. Top tip: use your elbow to assess the temperature of the bath as this is more sensitive than the palm of your hand-the water should feel warm, but not hot.
SIX TIPS TO GET YOUR PUPPY TO LOVE BATH TIME
1. INTRODUCE YOUR PUPPY TO THE BATH, SLOWLY
Many of us have thrown our puppy into the deep end, franticly trying to wash off whatever mess they've sat or rolled in this time. That may work for some dogs, but the majority will soon build a negative association due to their uncomfortable bath time memories.
Instead, try introducing your puppy to each element of the bath separately, rather than overwhelming them all at once.
A bathtub, tap, shower head, warm water, shampoo, towel and hairdryer may not seem overwhelming to us, but your puppy will be wary of these alien objects and may become overstimulated and overwhelmed.
By letting your puppy sniff around each of these never-before-seen items, their confidence will soon grow, and your puppy’s natural instinct to explore will intrigue them further. You can positively reinforce their inquisitiveness using treats and praise.
Work out the process of how you would like to bath your puppy and then methodically introduce each element individually. Once your puppy seems confident with one element, move on to the next. After your puppy has experienced each element of the process, you can revisit and start to incorporate multiple elements at a time. An example of this would be to initially place your puppy into an empty bath with some treats and toys to build a positive association and once they are not trying to escape and seem happy in the tub, remove the puppy, add a small amount warm water and place your puppy back in.
Here are a few tips for introducing each element of bath time to your puppy:
Remember to make each part fun and reward your puppy throughout!
- Bathtub: Allow your puppy to have a sniff and explore with no water.
- Shower head / Taps: Introduce one at a time, with just a small amount of pressure and lukewarm water.
- Shampoo: Let your puppy sniff and explore the shampoo bottle. Initially apply to their body and legs and avoid their face.
- Towel: Start introducing towels to your puppy when they're dry, or only have wet paws from a walk.
- Hairdryer: Allow your puppy to explore the ‘off’ hairdryer, before turning it on to the lowest setting for power and heat; leave the hairdryer on its side and let them explore in their own time using a few tasty treats as an incentive.
- Brush: Your puppy will most likely know what this looks like already, but it's important to brush before and after bathing your puppy to minimise matting and help clean their undercoat. Letting them explore the brush before using it and distracting them with a toy or treats whilst brushing can help.
Keep one hand underneath their tummy at all times; this can make them feel more safe and secure whilst in the bath.
2. SHOW YOUR PUPPY THAT BATH TIME IS FUN!
A puppy’s world revolves around play, and bath time should be no different. If you want your puppy to love a bath, treats and toys are a must, so choose their favourites and reward them with plenty of praise throughout.
Show your puppy that the slippery white tub is an exciting place to be, and you may be fighting to get them out, rather than to keep them in.
Need a few ideas to help your puppy see the fun side of bath time? See below:
- Let them have their favourite toy (that's suitable for going in the bath of course).
- Keep a few tasty treats on hand to reward your puppy when they're doing what you want.
- Stick a lick mat, smothered in their favourite spreadable treat, to the bath wall.
- Get a new bath-friendly toy for your puppy that they only get to play with during bath time.
3. USE A NATURAL DOG SHAMPOO
Choosing the right shampoo for your puppy can make a huge difference with their bathing experience. Natural, well-balanced shampoos designed especially for dogs, such as our very own Top Dawg Natural Dog Shampoo, are chemical-free, hypoallergenic and will leave your puppy’s fur soft, clean and smelling like a dream.
Non-natural dog shampoos can come with a tonne of potential side-affects for your little companion, from short term dry and itchy skin, to long term internal problems. So be sure to pick a natural dog shampoo with all ingredients clearly labelled.
You can read more about specific ingredients to avoid when choosing your new puppy or dog shampoo on Dogs Naturally Magazine.
Take a look at our collection of Top Dawg Natural Dog Shampoos.
4. BE TIME EFFICIENT, BUT DON'T RUSH
This one is a bit of a balancing act. Whizzing through your puppy’s bath at a hundred-miles-per-hour may result in missing those hard-to-reach places or leaving excess shampoo on your puppy’s skin or fur - not to mention a stressed experience for you and your little companion.
On the flip side, taking too long to bath your puppy will push their tiny attention span to its absolute limit, again potentially leading to a negative experience.
Our tip for keeping your puppy’s bath time efficient is to prepare everything you may need before starting and have it all in easy reach. This will avoid the arduous task of trying to find treats, brushes, shampoos and towels mid-bath which can lead to a more stressful experience for you and your puppy.
5. APPLY THE SHAMPOO SPARINGLY
We know it sounds simple but trust us when we say a little goes a long way.
Apply too much shampoo, and you'll be making your already challenging task, even harder. Excess shampoo takes longer to rinse off thoroughly. It also increases the chance of getting shampoo in your puppy’s eyes, mouth and/or ears resulting in an unpleasant experience.
Be sure to gently massage your natural dog shampoo in as you work along your puppy’s coat, avoiding openings around the face.
TIP: Working from the nose backwards, applying small amounts of shampoo as we move towards the tail and leg is a great way to ensure no areas are missed.
6. DRY YOUR PUPPY THOROUGHLY
Drying your puppy can take anywhere from 5 to 30 minutes, dependent on the breed size and coat type. Some dogs with wet coats won't absorb much water and will be more accustomed to fighting the chills that wet dog hair can bring. Other breeds, such as cockapoos will take much longer to dry, and may begin to shiver from a damp coat. Whichever your breed, it's always best to get them as warm and dry as quickly as possible following their bath.
Utilising multiple, good-quality absorbent towels is the most efficient way to remove large amounts of moisture from your puppy’s coat. Using multiple towels, one after the other helps absorb more water and keep your puppy warm.
TIP: Follow the direction of the coat when towel drying and refrain from rigorous rubbing and circular motions as this will increase the chance of matting.
After the initial towel dry, you can jump straight to the blow dryer. Again, dependent on the breed of your puppy, you may find they get cold very quickly. In this case, a 'puppy gown', made of microfibre, will help absorb additional moisture and keep your puppy nice and cosy whilst enjoying their blow-dry.
Remember: Don't forget to dry in the smaller hard to reach areas, such as in-between paw pads and inside the ears, to ensure there is no moisture build-up which can lead to further complications.
So, there we have it! A guide to bathing your puppy (or dog), whether they're a bathtub first-timer or need re-introducing to a more fun bath experience.
You've now got the tools to give your puppy a thorough clean and dry, there’s just one final touch; add to their amazing post-bath smell with our Top Dawg Natural Dog Perfume collection; a fab addition for after their blow-dry and between their baths.