Tips for bathing a giant dog

Untitled design-1Clifford is our growing 15 month old long haired, muscular St. Bernard, weighing approximately 150 lbs (more soaking wet!). So bath time can be challenging for my husband and I. 

In the summer, it is easy to soak, soap and lather him outside with a hose and bucket. In fact, he LOVES chasing water from a hose. So it seems more like play time than bath time and is a relatively simple task. 

Bath time in the winter is a completely different beast. 

For us, outdoor bathing is out of the question from early fall to late spring because it can be painfully cold. So most of the year we must bathe him indoors. We don’t have a fancy dog tub or even a walk in shower – just a bath/shower combo in a tiny bathroom.  And sending him to a groomer’s is out of the question – the closest one is 3 hours away. 

Full disclosure – I am nowhere near an expert in dog grooming. These recommendations are based on our own trials and errors. If you have a large dog, you are well aware of how challenging bath time can be. Hopefully this post will help you!

So here is how we make our puppy bath time run smoothly:

  • Have everything you need before you begin
    • Brushes, shampoo, conditioner, towels, etc. 
  • Change into clothes that you won’t mind getting wet
  • Be calm and get your dog to stay comfortably in the bathroom 
    • Encourage with treats and affection
    • Remember to shut the door
  • Give your dog a thorough brushing
    • This helps to calm pup and removes excess hair that would get stuck in the drain
  • Start running water and gauge how your dog reacts to it
    • Decide whether you want to run your shower or bath 
    • Keep the water temperature cool to warm
    • For us, Cliff hates a shower running, but doesn’t mind the bath running so that is what we do
  • Call your dog into the bathtub 
    • If met with resistance, use treats and affection 
    • For especially difficult dogs, you may need to use their collar
      • Only use to get into the tub, then promptly remove to avoid damage to skin 
  • Soak your dog’s coat with water
    • This is easier with a handheld shower head, but filling a large bucket can work just as well
  • Lather with appropriate shampoo 
    • Make sure to use puppy shampoo for young dogs
    • Consider shampoos made for dogs with sensitive/dry skin
  • Rinse all shampoo!
    • No matter how difficult, it is important to rinse thoroughly to avoid shampoo residue being left on coat- this can cause skin irritation to your pup
  • Finish with condition 
    • Again be sure to rinse thoroughly 
  • Towel and air dry your doggy 
  • After coat has started to dry, brush to remove any new tangles 
  • Check your drain for excess hair to avoid clogging
  • Be sure to give treats for a job well done!
    • For both your dog and you 🙂
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Post bath time hairball courtesy of Cliff. Just imagine how much went down the drain…

What is bath time like for you and your pup? I’d love to hear your tips and tricks to help make it run more smoothly. 

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