13 Tips For Bathing Your Dog

Some dogs just can’t get enough of getting wet, but for many other breeds, water and baths aren’t particularly pleasant. Whether your dog loves bath time or hates it, these tips can help you make sure your dog’s baths go smoothly, and that your dog gets as clean as possible.

1. Find A Good Place To Bathe Your Dog


Smaller breeds can be bathed in a washtub filled with warm water, or even in your kitchen or bathroom sink. Larger breeds may need to be washed in the bathtub, or in a walk-in shower. If the weather is warm and the water won’t be too cold, you can also use the hose to bathe a large dog outside.

2. To Introduce A Young Dog To The Bathtub, Make Sure They Associate Something Positive With It


Before your puppy’s first bath, try putting a treat in the tub and letting them go in after it. Then, give them another as a reward. You want to create positive associations with the bathtub, so that your dog won’t get anxious or upset when it’s time for their bath.

3. Make Sure You’re Using The Right Shampoo


There are quite a few brands and types of dog shampoo out there, and the number of choices can sometimes be overwhelming. You really shouldn’t use human shampoo, even baby shampoo, because there’s a pH difference.

You can ask your veterinarian if they recommend any particular brand for your dog’s breed. If your dog has skin problems, you may need a therapeutic shampoo for them. At the pet store, you can also pick up a special bath tool that helps you massage the shampoo deep into your dog’s coat.

4. Protect Your Dog’s Ears


You can put a little piece of cotton into each of your dog’s ears during their bath, keeping water out and reducing their risk of developing an ear infection. Afterward, you can easily remove them.

5. Make Sure You Have Everything You Need Before You Get Your Dog Wet


You’ll want to have your shampoo, towels, and other necessities within easy reach before you put your dog in the bath and start washing them. If your dog doesn’t like water, they might try to bolt if you have to leave to go get something.

6. Make Sure You Block Your Drain


Dogs tend to shed when they get a bath, and all that hair can clog your bathtub drain. You can use a special trap to catch the hairs, but in a pinch, steel wool also works well.

7. Brush Your Dog Before You Bathe Them


Before the bath, gently brush your dog while their fur is still dry. This can help make sure the shampoo penetrates deeply into their coat, by removing mats and tangles that can get in the way.

8. Fill The Tub With Warm Water Before You Bring Them Into The Bathroom


For dog breeds that aren’t fond of water, the sound of a running faucet can induce anxiety and lead them to panic.

9. If You’re Using The Bathtub, Make Sure You Have A Mat On The Bottom


Dogs can slip on the slick surface of a bathtub floor, so you’ll want to get a rubbery no-skid mat. If you don’t have a mat yet, you can also put a towel down on the bottom. This gives the dog’s feet something to grip, so they don’t slip and slide around.

10. Start Shampooing From Neck, And Work Your Way Down To The Tail


If there are any fleas or other insect pests hiding out in your dog’s fur, they’ll run for a shampoo-free spot when you start lathering up your dog. When you start at the head and neck, it prevents the insects from all running up to your dog’s ears and face, which can cause discomfort.

Be careful putting shampoo on your dog’s head. Even if the bottle says it’s tear-free, shampoo can still cause eye irritation. You should also avoid pouring water directly over your dog’s head, if possible, because it can lead to ear infections. Even if you use cotton in their ears, as we mentioned earlier, it’s still a good idea to avoid the head when you’re bathing them.

11. Rinse Your Dog Thoroughly


Rinse your dog with water multiple times after shampooing, to make sure you get all of the soap out of their coat. This keeps your dog clean longer, which is useful for dogs that don’t like baths. It also helps prevent their skin from getting flaky.

12. Dry Your Dog Off Completely


Put a towel over their back, then use a second towel to dry off their ears, face, and feet. To speed things up, you can use a hair dryer, provided the sound doesn’t spook your dog. Use a cool setting so you don’t burn them accidentally. There are also special hair dryers designed specifically for dogs, which put out room temperature air. If you have a long-haired breed, they can be useful to have around.

After you’ve toweled them off or used the hair dryer, lead them somewhere where you can let them shake off.

13. Don’t Let Your Dog Outside Until They’re Fully Dry


If you let a wet dog outside, they’ll try to roll around in dirt or mud, negating the entire bathing process you just went through.