If you are considering getting a Labrador, or if you already have one, you should know how to give it a bath properly, so it is easier for you and your dog, and it helps prevent skin irritations.
Labradors love to swim and play in the water, but they are prone to easily become dirty.
Bathing and grooming your Labrador can seem like a big deal. But it doesn’t need to be!
With a little know-how and the right equipment, you’ll have this soggy doggy job done in no time.
Our dogs are members of the family and we want to get bathing right. But that raises some questions:
- How often should I bathe my dog?
- What is the best way to bathe a Lab?
- How can I bathe my dog myself?
We will talk you through the process in simple steps.
But before we find out how to give a dog a bath, let’s look at why we might want to.
Do Labradors Need Grooming?
All dogs need grooming, but you’d be forgiven at first glance for thinking it’s minimal with a Lab.
After all, Labradors have a wonderfully easy-looking coat.
It is short, dense, and very waterproof.
No tangles to comb out of ears.
No fur balls to gather in their ’trousers’.
But Labradors shed like crazy, and to keep them comfortable and your home relatively fur-free you will need to give them a quick brush down at least once a week. More in molting season.
Ways To Groom A Labrador
Grooming Labradors is easy if your pup is used to being brushed from a young age.
Firm brushing with a good bristle body brush will remove dried mud, sand, and dust from your dog’s coat and help distribute the oils through his fur.
It may also improve the shine, and he will enjoy the ‘massaging’ effect of the firm strokes going through his fur.
Best Grooming Brush For Labrador
I like a plain body brush intended for horses for a quick daily "once over".
They usually have a handle strap on the back and if you find one that fits your hand comfortably they are great.
The slicker brush gets right into the coat and does a good job of removing dead hair on a daily basis.
However, sometimes the dead hair situation calls for a more assertive tool!
You can’t stop your dog shedding, but you can reduce the impact on your home by using an efficient ‘rake’ on his coat during periods of severe molting.
An ordinary brush quickly gets clogged with dead hair and you will struggle to make much progress without a special tool for loosening dead hair.
How Often Should I Groom My Dog?
You don’t need to groom your dog every day if you don’t want to, but if you make this part of your daily routine, your dog will get used to the process and benefit from regular physical contact.
If you don’t fancy going into battle with dead hair during the worst of the molting season, you can always treat your Labrador to a pampering at your local dog salon.
But there are still occasions when your dog’s coat will need some additional attention.
Because Labs might be gorgeous, adorable friends. But they are also rather mucky pups.
So let’s take a look at the ins and outs of how to bathe a dog.
How Often Should You Wash Your Dog?
There are Labradors that are bathed every week, and other Labradors that are almost never bathed.
But how often should I bathe my Lab?
I tend to bathe my Labs when they get a bit smelly, or if they have rolled in something unpleasant.
Something which many Labradors seem to have a huge enthusiasm for!
Many Labs take a delight in rolling in disgusting ‘treasures’ that they happen upon during your daily walks.
Dead animals, and fox poo, are some of their favorites.
Labradors also love mud.
They will go out of their way to find some, especially if you have just bathed them, or had new carpets fitted.
Paddling around in muddy puddles and the edges of boggy ponds can result in a filthy and smelly coat, again a hose down may be sufficient.
But sometimes you’ll need the help of something more powerful than water.
Dog Bathing Schedule
Bathing as and when they need it is absolutely fine for most Labs.
But if you want to have a routine then once a month is a nice easy schedule for most people to remember.
It is a little different with puppies.
Puppy Shampoo and Dog Shampoo
When you bathe your puppy, use a specially designed puppy shampoo or adult dog shampoo labeled as safe for puppies from 8 weeks.
This won’t be as strong and will be kind to your puppy’s skin and her coat.
It is not a good idea to shampoo your older Labrador regularly unless you really need to. Especially in the winter.
This is because the shampoo strips out the natural oils and reduces the waterproofing and cold repellent qualities of his double coat.
Best Shampoo For Dogs
I have used a variety of shampoos on my dogs.
The main thing is to avoid shampoos intended for human adults.
They will sting like crazy if you get them in your dog’s eyes, and he’ll run a mile next time he sees the bath towels coming out!
Your alternative option is to make your own shampoo.
Where to Bathe Your Dog
Where to bathe your dog tends to vary depending on individual circumstances.
For some dogs, it can be easiest to bathe them outside in the backyard on the ground. This way, owners can avoid lifting, particularly medium to large-sized dogs. This can also be a good option for dogs who try to jump out of the tub.
Some owners choose to use a garden hose set on low pressure. Always test the temperature of the hose water as in summer the water can be quite hot at first, so you’ll need to wait until it cools down before using it. If the weather’s cooler it may be necessary to use buckets filled with comfortable, warm water instead as the hose water may be too cold.
- Bathtub/dog tub
For other dogs, a bathtub or a dog tub may be suitable. Observe your pet, if they seem upset you might like to try outdoor bathing instead.
If you’re using a tub always directly supervise your dog and be present with them. Let the water run down the drain so the water doesn’t fill up the tub. This is important for safety reasons as dogs can drown.
Using a hose/shower head attached to the tub is ideal or you may need to use containers/buckets of water and a ladle if you don’t have a hose/shower attachment. Test the water temperature to make sure it’s comfortable and warm ensuring it’s not too hot or cold so your dog is happy. It’s also advisable to use low flow and light water pressure only.
Apply a non-slip mat to the floor of the tub to prevent any slipping or injury. This will also help your dog to feel more comfortable as dogs like to be on secure surfaces. You can also place a few non-slip mats next to the tub and around the bathroom to make the general area less slippery.
- Professional bathing services
If you need help bathing your dog, contact your local vet clinic, they usually provide bathing services, and professional groomers will often work attached to vet clinics.
Training Your Dog to Enjoy Bath Time
1. Teach your puppy or dog to be comfortable with handling in general, by patting and stroking different parts of their body. Praise and reward them for being calm and allowing you to handle them. Go slowly, patting them on the chest area, shoulders, sides, and along the back, gradually working towards other areas such as each leg. Once they’re comfortable with this, try briefly lifting up a paw, one at a time. Over time you can extend this to gently touching the footpads and nails and also other areas such as the ear flaps.
Continue to praise and reward (e.g. with tasty dog food treats) for calm behaviour and when your dog allows general handling. This will make your dog less likely to react when you touch them in these areas while bathing.
2.When introducing your dog to bathing, do it slowly and give them plenty of praise and tasty dog food treats for being calm and tolerating the process. This will help your dog to associate bathing with positive things, helping to make the experience pleasant for your dog and easier for you. You should be calm and speak to them in a positive tone. This will help your dog to be more relaxed. After bath time also be sure to reward your dog with a tasty dog treat so the activity finishes on a good note.
3.Start by introducing your dog to the bath equipment you’re going to use, one item at a time such as towels, buckets, shampoo containers and hoses. Practise standing on the non-slip mats and reward your dog for standing on the mat. You can also practice standing in the tub but without using any water, this way your dog can gradually get used to being in the tub. Reward with treats while in the tub.
You can also turn on the hose and tap (on low flow) when your dog is nearby so that they can see and hear the running water. Being introduced to bath-related things gradually in a positive and calm way is the best way to train your dog.
4.Before bath time, you can try going for a nice walk and then, after having a rest when arriving back home, you can try bath time. This way your dog will probably be a bit tired having expended some energy and therefore they’ll be less likely to be energetic during bath time.
5.Now that your dog has been positively introduced to bath equipment and the tub (if you’re using a tub) you can introduce them to having a bath. Remember to be patient, if your dog gets upset, stop and try on another day.
- Ask your local veterinary clinic for advice.