Bathing A Puppy

Bathing a puppy for the first time can be a frightening experience for such a young dog. Follow our practical, step by step guide on how to acclimatise your puppy to his bath-time routine to ensure he has enjoys his bath-time and isn't traumatized for life!

Bathing Your Puppy - Step 1

Place Your Pup In An Empty Bath

If you intend bathing your pup in the family bathroom, put a non-slip bath mat into the bottom of the bath beforehand to help him stop slipping and sliding.

Cocker Spaniel puppy having a bath in a tin bucket, with yellow duck and towel

Don't run any water at this stage; the point of this exercise is to get him used to being inside an empty bath.

If he stays quiet and calm, praise him and give him a small treat.

Offer him his favorite toy and let him play for a couple of minutes, however, if he doesn't seem interested just let him explore the bath.

Try to make it fun for him by running your fingers along the bottom of the bath, tapping with your nails as you go. If that doesn't interest him try tickling him gently under his chin - anything to keep his mind off being in 'this big scary white thing'!

If your puppy tries to get out of the bath, or he cries, distract him with a couple of treats or more play, and continue to praise him.

If you feel it would help, why not climb into the bath with him for the first couple of sessions?

Your goal is to have your pup play happily inside the bath for a couple of minutes each time. He needs to understand that no harm will come to him and that the bath is a good place to be - bathing a puppy is meant to be fun!

Repeat this exercise each day for a few days, or until he gets used to being in the bathtub.

Bathing A Puppy - Step 2

Get Him Used to the SOUND of Running Water

Your next step is to get your puppy used to the sound running water.

I don't recommend you run the water while he's in the bathroom as the sudden sound of running water, especially if it echos off the walls, may frighten him at this stage.

Hold your puppy in your arms and stand just outside of the bathroom door while someone turns on the bath taps for you - gently at first and then onto full stream.

If he seems happy and hasn't been startled by the sound, take him into the bathroom and let him see the water running into the bath.

If he's at all uncomfortable, leave the bathroom immediately. Don't reassure your puppy (otherwise he'll think he was right to be worried) just leave the room quickly and calmly and have someone turn off the taps.

Once your puppy is okay with the sound of running taps, the next stage is to run a couple of inches of warm water into the bath and then turn off the taps.

If he seems comfortable, place him into the water and praise him.

Give him another treat, and then let him play for a couple of minutes if he wants to or wriggle your fingers in the water to 'entertain' him for a little while.

When your puppy seems happy standing in a little water, (this may take a session or two) lift him out of the bath and run some more water (gently) into the bath to keep him used to the sound.

Don't put him back into the bath until you've finished running the water; let him to get used to the sound in his own time.

Bathing A Puppy - Step 3

Put Him In The Bath With RUNNING Water

The next stage is to run the water while your puppy is in the bath.

Little black cocker spaniel puppy taking a bath - cute!

Place your Cocker Spaniel pup at one end of an empty bath (away from the taps) and then turn on one tap, very gently at first as you don't want to startle him, slowing increasing the flow of the water.

Make sure that the water doesn't get too hot otherwise you may scald him - keep it at body temperature as you would for a baby.

If you intend to use a spray for bathing your puppy, follow the same guidelines as for the bath taps to help get him used to the spray action.

Your overall objective is to get your puppy used to the feel of warm water and to hearing it run and splash around him.

If he seems uncomfortable at any stage, turn off the taps to see if he settles before trying again.

If he doesn't settle, remove him from the bath and try again another day, but again, don't fuss or reassure him.

Bathing A Puppy - Step 4

Get Him Used To The FEEL of Running Water

Buff American cocker spaniel in tin bath, wearing shower cap

Your Cocker Spaniel should by now be happy with the sound of running water while he's sitting in the bath.

Now we need to get him used to the feel of the water on his coat.

Ask your puppy for a paw and when he offers it to you, place your hand underneath it for support and, with the other hand, gently scoop us some water and pour it onto his offered paw.

Let him see where the water's coming from, let him feel it running onto his paw.

He may try to drink it, but that's okay so long as there's no doggie bath bubbles in it!

Gently run water from your hands over his coat - don't startle him, take it slowly and gently. You never know, he may take to his puppy bath like a duck to water, in which case you've cracked it!

Bathing A Puppy - Step 5

Washing Your Puppy

Don't forget the whole point of bathing a puppy is to have a clean (and happy) dog.

Now that your pup is happy in the bath and in water, it's time to get him clean - I recommend you follow the guidelines given here for bathing your dog.

You'll find lots of helpful advice and information on bathing your Cocker Spaniel as well as a useful list of bath time essentials.

When you've finished bathing your puppy, don't worry if he just sits there - he may be slightly overwhelmed (shell-shocked!) if this is his first bath!

Bathing A Puppy - Step 6

Drying Your Puppy

Your puppy may be familiar with a hair-dryer if you have used one whilst socializing him.

If this is the case, you may finish drying your puppy with a hair-dryer.

Common sense prevails here - never use the highest heat setting; use the coolest, or a warm setting on your hair-dryer, and don't hold it too close to your puppy as the heat may burn his delicate skin.

Once he's been bathed and blow-dried; your little furry bundle will not only smell and look clean but his coat will be shining and feel soft and silky to the touch, just how a puppy should feel.

Puppy bath-time should be fun, let his first experience be a happy one!

Brushing Your Cocker Spaniel Puppy

Because bathing can make tats and mats worse, I recommend you get into the habit of brushing your puppy before he has his bath; remove any tangles or matting first.

Although your Cocker Spaniel puppy will be fairly easy to brush, when he's fully grown his coat will grow longer and he'll develop feathers, which will attract dirt, leaves, burrs, twigs and other debris - all of which can cause tangles and matting.

If you'd like to read more about brushing an adult dog, simply follow the link.

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