When it’s time to bathe your dog, it can end up being a real chore just getting them to the tub or shower like these attempts.
Understanding their grooming needs and learning how to overcome their fears of bath time can make it a positive event for both you and your dog.
According to the American Kennel Club (AKC), German Shepherd Dogs should be bathed every 4-5 months.
Over bathing will strip the natural oils from their coat and dry out their skin. Daily brushing will keep up with their shedding needs.
Even without extreme events like fleas and skunks, German Shepherd Dogs (a.k.a. German Shepherd or GSD) do need a good scrub down every now and again to stay healthy.
To keep your GSD bathed and groomed correctly, here is what you need to know about their care.
How Often to Bathe a German Shepherd
German Shepherds only require to be bathed a few times out of the year. The rest of the time, proper grooming can keep them clean and healthy.
Shedding For The Season
Dogs have two different types of coats. Some have hair that continually grows. Others have fur that sheds. German Shepherd Dogs have a double coat of fur.
According to Dog.com, the undercoat serves as an insulator layer to protect the dog from extreme temperatures.
The top layer (also known as the primary layer) serves to protect the dog from light injury and add additional insulation from temperature.
Throughout the year, some of this fur detaches from the body (sheds), in order for new growth to come in.
German Shepherd Dogs go through two big shedding cycles every year to adapt to the coming season. This act is usually referred to as “blowing their coat.”
You can recognize this when you pet them and get a big clump of fur in your hand.
You will also notice that there is more fur around the house than normal. This is their body shedding off their previous season’s coat in order to prepare for the coming one (summer to winter or vice versa).
The best way to keep up with their shedding is daily brushing with a de-shedding brush or comb. You will want to make sure you are getting both the top layer and undercoat when doing this.
Use positive techniques and stay consistent with this daily routine. After some time, this can become a great bonding experience.
Snow Flakes Are Okay, Skin Flakes Are Bad
Like most breeds, your German Shepherd Dog’s skin produces natural oil that moisturizes their skin.
Global K9 Protection Services, a company that specializes in training Shepherds, recommends not bathing GSDs too often to avoid drying out their skin.
Dry skin can lead to itchiness, redness, and hot spots that they can start chewing.
Nailing Down The Truth
Dog’s nails are always growing. If they walk on pavement or gravel often, their nails may get ground down from those surfaces.
German Shepherd’s nails are usually black, so it is difficult to clip their nails without hitting the nerve.
The goal is to cut the nails down without hitting the nerve in the nail. Nails that are too long can make your dog’s foot align incorrectly when they walk.
This can lead to foot and joint issues later on. When clipping their nails, high praise in a calm environment will give you the best results for them to get through it in the most positive way.
Cleaning The Radars
Cleaning your dog’s ears can be a challenge. They need it but do not want you to put anything in there. The best way to do this is to clean the outer ear and use ear drops designed for dogs.
As they shake their heads, it will remove the excess ear wax and dirt. Speak to your veterinarian about which product to choose.
Brightening Their Smile
There are two different ways to clean your dog’s teeth. Some dog treats have plaque removing properties to them.
Another way is to brush their teeth around three times a week. Make sure you use a toothpaste made for dogs.
The toothpaste made for humans can be toxic to dogs. Remember, if it goes in their mouth, they will swallow it.
Training To Take The Plunge
The best way to bathe your dog is to start them young. Let them get used to the warm water. The water level should not be more than elbow high for them.
Work from their bottom and move forward, saving their head for last. They are very sensitive to having their faces handled.
When scrubbing them, use circular motions with your fingers to get through the undercoat. You can also use long strokes in a massage-like way. These two methods can calm them down. Who does not like a massage?
Make sure you rinse often and repeatedly to make sure that all of the soap has been cleaned off. Dried residue can create irritation on their skin.
Have at least 3-4 towels ready to dry them off. If you are going to use a hairdryer, do not focus on one spot for too long, to avoid making one spot too hot for them.
Cleaning The Natural Way
When choosing a shampoo and/or conditioner for your dog, Cesar Millan has some good rules of thumb to remember.
Use products that are designed specifically for dogs. Avoid products that use artificial chemicals. Products that use natural ingredients and have simple formulas are just as effective.
Going With The Pros
Using a professional dog groomer has advantages. They have the proper equipment, products, and skills to groom your German Shepherd Dog.
Make sure you understand your groomer’s credentials, facilities, and how they conduct their business.
In some states, they must be licensed and there are certification programs that exist, like the AKC’s S.A.F.E. Grooming program, that can assure you the groomer is of the highest quality.
You will also want to make sure they are caring for your dog well with their kennels and that their staff is trained for any emergencies. Finally, make sure you understand all the costs that come with their services.
A Choreless Bathing Experience
Bathing and grooming your German Shepherd can be a positive event.
Your dog may never look forward to it, but when it is time to take a bath, using positive training techniques can be the best approach to make it a choreless event.
Make sure you use the proper shampoos and keep up with their grooming requirements. If you do need further advice, see the help of a certified trainer in your area.
They can teach you techniques to help you conquer your dog’s fears and make bath time a good time.