Schnauzers typically hate baths! In this blog post as part of our Practical Tips series, Tracy Bliss gives us her top tips and advice on bathing reluctant schnauzers.  Tracy has used her extensive experience with Baxter and Winnie, who are both nervous about baths.

Some of us have dogs that are great to bath, some of us don’t. Baxter has previously been a highly arouzer Schnauzer, and baths become one of the dreaded moments. Given he retains grass seeds, a tick, mats between his paws, he used to snap out at me in warning in the bath. In case this shocks you, or maybe you’ve experienced it yourself, a snap out is a warning, and not as bad as a bite. If I pushed him with the snaps, then it would go to bite. It’s easy to say that we are the ‘boss’, your dog will do as you say. I don’t want my dog to be fearful of me, I want to build a good relationship so he can enjoy his life with me.

Something had to change. Big time. So I’ve been asked to share our bath routine, although now adapted for our new addition Winnie. Hopefully the pictures say it all, and apologies for those that are blurry. Bathing, drying, taking photos needs more than one pair of hands!

Step 1 – Prepare the bath area (this can be done well beforehand):

  • Towels (these can be warmed on the radiator in the colder days).
  • Peanut Butter (no sugar, no salt, no xylitol) – I prefer smooth to make sure no choke hazard.
  • Shampoo.
  • Plastic bath mat (can also use a towel but I find it lifts).
  • Bowl.
  • Scrunchy/spongey thing .

Step 2 – Prepare Drying Area:

  • Grooming mat (non-slip).
  • Hands free hairdryer.
  • Tangle teaser brush, and comb.
  • Treats (I use kibble from their daily allowance, and add carrot and apple).

Step 3 – Prepare Your Dog(s):

We bath after muddy or grassy type walks, usually paws and beard (depending on where it’s been) – we don’t bath whole body each time (unless it’s needed after a good roll!). I keep Baxter fully dressed, so I can take the lead if I need to coax him to the bath. Winnie can be undressed as she tends to follow us.

  • With a small amount of peanut butter on my hand, I coax Baxter to me, taking his lead or harness if necessary.
  • I undress him whilst he’s focussed on my hand, but keep the collar on.
  • I pick him up to place him in the bath.

Step 4 – Be Bath Ready:

  • No water in the bath, just the shower head to a room type temperature.
  • Put shampoo in the bowl, top up with water to make a foam.
  • Plastic bath mat in the bottom.
  • Peanut Butter up the side (or front, depending on your bath position).

Step 5 – Put your dog in the bath:

If it’s a paws/beard wash I tend to keep his collar on, just in case I need some control in the bath or on the grooming table.

Step 6 – Put Your Second Dog in the Bath:

This only applies if a) you have more than one and b) you bath them together

Winnie was nervous the first time I did this. I have to place her between Baxter and the peanut butter, this is the best position for her.

Step 7 – The Wash:

  • Soak the sponge in the shampoo bowl.
  • Hold 1 paw, scrub it, name it *1 paw, 2 paw, 3 paw, 4 paw… beard. 
  • Shower down 1 paw, 2 paw, 3 paw… beard (the beard’s slightly challenging and may need to hold the collar lightly).

*The paw count routine was shown to me when we stayed at a friend who wipes her dogs paws always when he’s in from the garden. I said I’d never get Baxter to do that. Sure enough, with treats/kibble, every time from outside or the garden, 1 paw (treat), 2 paw (treat)… and the routine was born! I then moved that to the bath routine and was amazed it works. When Baxter knows what is coming, he can cope just fine.

Step 8 – The Dry

  • Wipe down what you can in the bath using a microfibre towel as this take a lot of the water out, and is very soft.
  • Again, use the 1 paw, 2 paw, 3 paw, 4 paw, beard routine.

Step 9 – Drying Baxter

  • Dry Winnie off with the towel, wrap her in a fresh towel and place her on the bed by the grooming table.
  • After drying him off with a towel, I wrap him in a fresh towel and pick him up to place him on the grooming table.
  • Feed Baxter kibble.
  • If necessary, stand close particularly if he shakes so the table doesn’t shake too!

Step 10 – Drying Winnie (She’s very nervous, a different kind of nervous)

  • Put Winnie on the grooming table after she’s watched Baxter.
  • Kibble/treats although still learning to ‘want’ to take them
  • Leave the brush and comb on the table so she can see they aren’t dangerous.
  • I keep her close to me so she feels protected. It’s about making her feel safe.
  • I focussed on brushing with my hands rather than too much fuss. She seems okay with the brush though.
  • Adapt the drying to what makes your dog feel comfortable.
Bathing reluctant schnauzers

Neither of them are dried fully but the importance for me, is ensuring the dirt, thorns, bristles are out of their paws and fur. Once they are brilliant in the bath, I will try improving the grooming table steps.

Author: Tracy Bliss

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