Bath time can be fun as long as you are prepared to get wet alongside your pet. Keeping your puppy clean with regular brushing and the occasional wash is an important part of the bonding process, as well as a necessary hygiene measure. Don’t leave it too long, the sooner it starts the more readily he will accept it.
Puppies that have been raised by an attentive mother enjoy being stroked and massaged. As well as being a pleasant way to spend some time, it gives you the chance to feel for any lumps and bumps, as well looking for sores that might lurk beneath his coat.
The frequency and thoroughness of the process depends in large part by the length and type of coat you are dealing with. Some require more care than others, but whatever length and thickness of coat, a quick daily brush is a useful habit to get into. While there are owners who are happy to trim stray hairs and even attempt cutting, professional groomers are on hand for more tricky tasks. Costs vary, so shop around.
A combined bristle and pin brush will deal with most short-haired varieties. While a wire slicker brush is best suited to removing dead hairs from dense short coats. Mitts are handy for an all over rub, while a good comb should untangle most long coats, avoiding unnecessary haircuts. The occasional use of a specialist flea comb will pick out any unwanted insects.
Nail clipping is probably best left to the experts. Your local vet practice or groomer will have the right equipment to make sure the job is done in complete safety.
A good bath is unavoidable if your dog becomes particularly dirty, or has a condition such as flea infestation or flaky skin. Wherever you chose to bath him, remember that once wet, your dog will naturally shake vigorously to remove excess water. You can always try to beat him to it by having a towel handy, but chances are that you and anyone else in the room are likely to get wet too.
With puppies in particular, make sure the water is tepid and support his body with one hand so he feels safe throughout. Use a specialist dog shampoo designed to clean the hair and skin while leaving natural oils intact. Apart for exceptional circumstances, bathing with soaps should be restricted to a couple of times a year. More frequent than that and you could be stripping away his natural waterproof and leaving unduly dry skin behind. When washing, avoid eyes, ears and mouth and make sure you rinse thoroughly, removing all traces of shampoo or soap. If using a hair dryer to finish off, check the setting is cool.