Home How To Bathe A Dog: Step-by-step guide

How To Bathe A Dog: Step-by-step guide

Follow our guide for bathing dog in 13 simple steps. Learn what shampoo to use, how often bathing is recommended, and what supplies you'll need in advance.

Once your dog is thoroughly brushed, gather together all the tools you will need. You need
shampoo, conditioner (if your dog’s coat is dry or tangles easily), several absorbent towels, and, if it’s cool, a hair dryer (many hair dryers have a cool setting). If your dog is anxious about baths, have a few of their favorite treats ready.

This guide will cover the following topics:

How often should you give a dog a bath?

Most experts recommend bathing a dog only when she needs it. If she gets dirty from rolling in the mud or has a foul odor, give her a bath. At a minimum, you should bathe your dog at least once every three months or as frequently as every other week if you use a gentle shampoo. It’s best to use your own judgement. If your dog has odors which are beginning to overpower the senses, it’s probably time for a bath.

Depending on the dog and the activities it’s engaged in, it may need to be bathed more. The most common examples being dogs participating in shows which are required to be freshly bathed and groomed before each show. Another example is therapy dogs which should be clean prior to each visit.

How often you bathe your dog is ultimately up to you and the activities you choose to participate in with your dog.

Supplies For Bathing Your Dog

  • Supply bucket: This serves two purposes: First it is used to store all of the supplies listed below so it’s easier to transport with your dogs leash in the other hand. The second is that it can be used to fill with warm, clean water to rinse the soap and shampoo off your dog.
  • Brush or comb: If your dog is filthy from romping around in the mud, you can skip this part. For routine bathing, use a brush or a comb to remove excess hair and check for any fleas or ticks.
  • Tub: Many animal supply stores now have industrial size bathing tubs you can rent, otherwise depending on the size of your dog, any tub can work.
  • Plastic hair / drain cap: This is helpful if you’re bathing your dog in the tub at your house and can prevent drainage clogs.
  • Sprayer: Having a sprayer (the equivalent of a hose) isn’t entirely necessary to bathe your dog at home, but can make things much enjoyable. Be sure to fully rinse hard to reach spots like under the tail and the back-leg areas where soap often is missed when rinsing, leading to dry skin.
  • Soap: If your dog has sensitive skin, buy an all-natural unscented shampoo. Pups with sensitive skin often prefer honey and oatmeal shampoos.
  • Towels: The first thing your dog will want to do after the bath is shake off, so it’s better to have more towels than you think you’ll need. I’d recommend 3-4 full size towels.
  • Oils: After you’ve dried off your dog with a towel, consider some essential oils to help your dog smell nice and prevent pests from climbing back on. Geranium rose oil repels ticks and lemongrass, whereas Pet360 suggests peppermint can repel fleas systemically. You should apply just a few drops along their back, and only use on dogs more than a year old.

How To Bathe Your Dog in 13 Steps

Pick a bathing location

If you have a very small dog you can bathe him in a laundry or kitchen sink. For larger dogs, use a shower or a bath tub. If it’s warm outside, you can even bathe your dog outside.
If you choose to bathe your dog in a sink or bathtub, it will get slippery when wet. To calm your dog and give him traction, put a towel or a rubber bath mat on the bottom of the tub or sink.
Select a confined location if available. Dogs often get anxious or upset during their bath and try to escape. Shut the door if you use the bathtub or if you’re washing your dog outside, make sure to do it in a fenced in area so your dog can’t run away.

Fill the tub with warm water

Be sure to test the water before putting your dog in the tub. The water should feel warm but not too hot.Fill the bathtub with warm water

Preventing shampoo from getting in your dogs ears

Before you rinse, tilt the dogs head down to prevent water from entering the ear canal. Next, rinse the shampoo with a shower nozzle going in reverse from where you started shampooing. For example, if you first shampooed the legs, start with the face when rinsing.

Experts recommend using a general ear cleanser and a dry cotton ball to prevent bacteria and yeast from growing. Be sure to dry your dogs ears after bathing and check your dogs ears on a regular basis for abnormalities.

Wet your dog thoroughly

Hose your dog down thoroughly with warm water using a handheld spray nozzle.

Begin shampooing her coat

Starting at the head and working down to her back toward her tail and down each leg. Be sure to get under the chest, belly, and between the back legs.

Give her a massage to loosen dirt

Once your dog is completely covered with shampoo, give her a quick massage all over to loosen dirt and other debris that is caught in her coat.

Rinse off the shampoo

Begin rinsing at her head, tilting the head so that the water runs away from her eyes and ears. Work the coat with one hand as you rinse with the other. Make sure all the soap is rinsed out.

Rub conditioner into her coat

If you’re using a conditioner, rub it into the coat now. Again, use your hands to give the dog a massage so the conditioner spreads evenly throughout the coat. (Conditioner is most effective on coats that can tangle; it makes the hair coat slicked and easier to brush out.)

Rinse out the conditioner

Using the same steps as you did for rinsing the shampoo, rinse out the conditioner beginning at her head, tilting the head so that the water runs away from her eyes and ears. Work the coat with one hand as you rinse with the other. Make sure all the conditioner is rinsed out.

Use one of the towels to blot the excess water

Before letting your dog out of the tub, use one of the towels to collect excess water.

Lift your dog out of the tub, towel dry her

Place the damp towel used in step 10 on the floor and then lift your dog out and set them on it. Using a dry towel, get her as dry as possible.

Use a hair dryer, especially if the house is chilly

Use the hair dryer to get her as dry as you can, especially if the house is chilly. If your dog is worried about the hair dryer, use it in short spurts and keep a supply of treats at hand.

Once fully dry, brush her hair

Once the dog is fully dry, brush and then comb her fur.

Remember to be patient with your puppy the first few times you wash her. To create a successful routine, reward her with a treat and verbal praise after each bath. Eventually bathing your dog will turn into a bonding activity for you both.

The Best Shampoos For Your Dog

Most experts recommend bathing a dog only when she needs it. If she gets dirty from rolling in the mud or has a foul odor, give her a bath. At a minimum, you should bathe your dog at least once every three months or as frequently as every other week if you use a gentle shampoo. It’s best to use your own judgement. If your dog has odors which are beginning to overpower the senses, it’s probably time for a bath.

Depending on the dog and the activities it’s engaged in, it may need to be bathed more. The most common examples being dogs participating in shows which are required to be freshly bathed and groomed before each show. Another example is therapy dogs which should be clean prior to each visit.

How often you bathe your dog is ultimately up to you and the activities you choose to participate in with your dog.

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