21 German Shepherd Bathing Tips (for Stress-Free Baths)

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Want to know the best German Shepherd bathing tips to make your life easier and save money?

Find out the simple steps that allowed me to decrease the time I spend bathing my German Shepherd that helps make bath time less stressful, even if you’ve never had success before.

1. Use peanut butter.

huge peanut sitting in a bath tub

Use a dollop of peanut butter on the side of your tiled wall to convince your German Shepherd to get into the tub. Research shows that highly motivational treats increase a dog’s good behavior!

Using peanut butter (or another tasty treat they love) distracts them from the bath and also motivates them to not only get into the tub but to stay in. Refill the peanut butter as you bathe them to keep them occupied.

Pick a natural peanut butter with no artificial sweeteners, as artificial sugars can make your dog seriously ill.

Not fond of spreading peanut butter on your wall?

Use a slow treat dispenser that suctions to the tile to keep your walls clean and your dog’s tongue in one spot.

2. Install a long shower hose.

long shower hose for bathing a german shepherd

Use a long shower hose with at least a 5-foot extension.

This enables you to not waste time pouring cups of water one at a time onto your dog’s water-repelling fur. The shower hose allows you to get close to the skin so you can penetrate the double coat.

It also makes rinsing under the belly quicker and easier than using your hands and a cup. If you don’t want to install a completely new shower hose or showerhead, there is an inexpensive option.

The Pet Wand Pro Dog Shower attachment is a quick install tool that offers adjustable pressure (for young puppies or dogs that hate water sprays during their baths). Many dogs fear water running out of the faucet, so this helps avoid a scary bath.

You can even use this attachment with a garden hose outdoors in warm weather!

3. Ease them in with small stairs.

small stairs for the bath

If you don’t have a walk-in shower, then use a small stair set to help your Shepherd get into the tub.

You may have to train them a bit to step onto the stairs and then into the tub. But unless you can lift a full-grown Shepherd (weighing upwards of 90 pounds or more) by yourself, I suggest a sturdy set of stairs to help your dog get into the tub.

These are the steps I use to support a German Shepherd up to 150 pounds!

4. Mix your shampoo with water.

mix your shampoo with water

Mix your shampoo in a ratio of 1 part shampoo with 2 parts warm water.

You could even try a ratio as high as 1:4 (or more!) depending on the shampoo you buy. I have an empty plastic squeeze bottle where I squirt my shampoo and then fill with water to the correct amount.

This makes the shampoo easier to apply since thick shampoos just sit on top of the hair and don’t penetrate the fur to the skin, where dirt and smells are.

Prepare the shampoo mix beforehand. Adjust your solution with more water until you reach the amount of suds and consistency that works best for your dog.

This tip for bathing your German Shepherd saves you lots of money and time in the long run since your breed has a thick coat that requires plenty of suds to get clean and you can easily go through too much shampoo if you don’t dilute it.

5. Arm yourself with treats.

arm yourself with treats

If your German Shepherd needs convincing to stay in the tub, keep a small bag of treats in your pocket.

At random intervals offer them a tasty piece of a treat to keep them calm.

If they’re not interested in your treat, then try a higher value treat that is more potent smelling to get their attention. Some ideas for treats that smell great to dogs are freshly baked chicken and pea-sized pieces of cheese.

6. Rinse, rinse, then rinse again.

rinse, then rinse again

Always remove soap and shampoo thoroughly by rinsing your German Shepherd. Then, rinse again.

Any remaining residue on your dog’s skin can cause irritation, including excessive itching to the point your GSD causes hot spots (red areas of problem skin).

When in doubt, rinse even more!

7. Zoom Groom the dirt and dead hair away.

blue zoom groom - a brushing and bathing tool

If you’re having trouble penetrating the shampoo or conditioner into their fur, use a rubber wash brush tool called a Zoom Groom.

A Zoom Groom is inexpensive and dislodges dirt, mud, and debris that gets trapped in guard hairs or their undercoat.

As a bonus, use the brush to remove dead hairs when your dog is dry or on puppies since the brush is gentle. The rubber teeth massage them, rather than pull their coats, and decreases shedding by picking up dead hair as it lies on top of their coat.

8. Brush BEFORE bathing.

brush before bathing

Brush your German Shepherd for at least 10 minutes before giving them their bath.

This removes dirt and dead hairs that would otherwise wind up making you work harder to bathe your dog. Your bathing goes more quickly since there’s less fur to shampoo and rinse!

Your drain will also thank you! Too much hair that makes it down the drain will clog your plumbing.

Wondering what brushes and techniques are best for your breed? Read all about brushing your German Shepherd.

9. Keep clogs at bay.

keep clogs at bay

Keep your plumbing from clogging by using a drain catcher to pick up all the fur before it winds up down the pipes.

There’re different catchers available to fit many drain sizes. They’re cheaper than a plumber!

Don’t get caught trying to unclog a drain!

10. Massage in a deshedding conditioner.

massage in a deshedding conditioner

After bathing and rinsing your German Shepherd, use a deshedding conditioner to add in shine to their coats and moisture to their skin.

Conditioning your GSD’s fur helps to keep moisture in their fur and skin, which prevents excessive itching after bath time. I prefer to use a natural, deshedding conditioner that helps keep shedding down and adding softness.

If you want more tips to decrease shedding, then read more about solutions for German Shepherd shedding.

11. Don’t use people shampoos, even baby shampoos.

use moisturizing shampoo

German Shepherds have sensitive skin and your personal shampoo is too stripping and drying.

Even baby shampoos aren’t suggested for your dog, warns the Kennel Club.

Instead, use a medicated anti-itch oatmeal-based shampoo to help maintain moisture in your dog’s skin to prevent irritation. This brand also helps to decrease itching and scratching and leaves your German Shepherd fresh and soft!

12. Prepare and plan.

prepare and plan

Have all your bathing supplies ready before you even start the bathwater.

Place them in an easy to reach area. I have a dog shower caddy that has all the shampoos, conditioners, sprays, and brushes that I need for my German Shepherd’s bath time. Easy to keep organized this way!

The last thing you want to do is remember you forgot the shampoo or treats when you have a soaking wet GSD in the tub who wants to escape!

As simple as this sounds, I’ve been caught without towels before leaving me with a soaking wet Shepherd!

13. Prevent the dreaded soaking wet splashing.

prevent splashing

Your German Shepherd will shake off water frequently, so pull your shower curtains tight!

Also, the moment your German Shepherd steps out of the tub and onto the floor, they will shake again immediately. Prepare for their spray of water by draping two large towels over their body and head.

This keeps the water under the towels, instead of all over your bathroom and house.

While you have them draped in the towels, lead them straight outdoors in warm weather. If the weather is too cool, then keep them in a room without drafts so they don’t catch a chill.

14. Don’t leave your dog wet any longer than necessary.

don't leave your dog wet for too long

Leaving your dog wet for too long can increase skin irritations and fungal infections.

Thinking of blow-drying your dog with your own hairdryer?

The Kennel Club advises against using our own hairdryers on dogs because of the risk of burning them. Their skin also becomes irritated when dried on too hot of heat for too long.

Instead, invest in a quality powerful dog grooming dryer. Not only will this reduce your drying time and inhibit fungal infections from ever starting, but it also reduces shedding!

Yes, you heard it right: reduce shedding by blowing their dead fur off with a powerful (but gentle) motor. The high-velocity motor loosens fur that lodges in their undercoat which helps decrease shedding.

There’s even an option to have warm air for the winter or outdoors during colder months.

15. Don’t forget to close the door!

close the door

Don’t forget to close the bathroom door!

You can imagine what’d happen when your soaking wet dog makes a run for it!

Don’t leave yourself with more work and stress having to clean your whole house because you forgot to close the door.

16. Start from the neck.

start from the neck

Start from the neck and work your way down to wet, shampoo, condition, and rinse your dog.

This way you don’t end up with shampoo on your dog’s back if you forget and start rinsing the legs first.

Keep your dog’s face for last since their face is highly sensitive to washing and upsets them.

17. Remove their collar.

remove their collar

Don’t forget to remove their collar before bathing.

A wet collar holds smells and can rub against the skin, causing chaffing.

Removing the collar before a bath also gives you the chance to inspect the collar for any frays or tears so it remains safe to use.

Don’t forget also to wash and rinse your dog’s collar with mild soap and warm water to remove any smells and keep your dog fresh.

18. Now is the time for ear cleaning.

ear cleaning

Bath time is a great time to clean the ears.

There are many types of ear cleansers on the market, but all of them make my dog shake her head wildly. I keep my dog in the shower or outdoors when I do ear cleaning because she WILL shake the cleaner out and I don’t want wax and dirt which all over my house.

Inspect their ears after the bath to wipe away any water. Use your ear cleaner with the directions provided.

Stick to liquid cleaners or wipes since they’re easier to use.

19. Use a wide-tooth comb and grooming spray.

use a wide tooth comb and grooming spray

Use a wide-tooth comb and grooming spray when your dog’s hair is still damp to remove dead hairs so that your dog dries more quickly.

Buy a metal comb with rounded tips that don’t scratch your German Shepherd’s sensitive skin and apply the grooming spray generously.

This grooming spray provides natural, silk moisture to your GSD’s skin to keep the skin supple and healthy while also providing you an easier brushing.

Plus, the spray adds conditioning to the skin to keep your German Shepherd from scratching after their baths.

20. Use a non-slip mat.

use a non slip bathing mat

Place a rubber mat down at the bottom of your tub to prevent slips.

A slippery tub and your wiggly German Shepherd is a disaster for an accident. But a rubber mat provides a surface their feet grip to increase their stability.

This mat also gives your dog more confidence and less anxiety during their baths.

Keeping your dog safe is your top priority!

21. Clip their nails.

clip their nails

Clip your dog’s nails a day or two before you bathe them.

This helps prevent scratches to you and gives them more traction to increase their footing in the tub.

It’s also another chance for you to inspect their paws for any cuts or sores before you bathe them.

Easy German Shepherd Bathing Tips at Home

Bathing your dog is an important part of pet care to keep your German Shepherd healthy.

Don’t overlook the quality of your bathing skills. You’ll be able to improve on them and shorten the time you take to bathe your dog, saving you time and stress by using these quick and easy German Shepherd bathing tips.

A home bath gives you the opportunity to bond with your dog and save you money. And these German Shepherd bathing tips keep your dog in tip-top shape.

Find out about the best ways to groom your German Shepherd at home to continue your journey and groom your dog like a professional.

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