How To Give Your Dog A Bath – An In-Depth Guide

There’s no denying how important it is to bathe your dog, and while it isn’t something that most dogs look forward to, it’s certainly worth learning how to do it in a quick and efficient way that’ll make the process happier for both you and your dog.

In this guide, we’re going to give you some helpful tips that should make bath times easier and more enjoyable, so let’s explore the topic in further detail.

Use The Right Products

First of all, it’s important to realize that you shouldn’t use shampoos and conditioners that are designed for humans, because your dog’s skin has a different pH level to a human, and it can actually be quite damaging if you use human products on your dog. In most cases, doing so will cause skin dryness, sensitivity, and even allergic reactions, so it is best to invest in a quality dog-based product that’ll get the job done safely.

Fortunately, there are a number of fantastic dog shampoos and dog conditioners that do a great job of looking after your dog’s coat and skin, and they don’t have to be too expensive either.

Set The Stage

Once you’ve obtained the appropriate products, it’s a good idea to set up everything you’re going to need before you get started, and this generally means getting your shampoo ready, as well as gathering several towels to dry your dog once they’re out of the bath. Furthermore, you may wish to put a few towels down in the general area to soak up any water that can escape if your dog splashes around or shakes after the bath.

Additionally, it’s a good idea to place a towel at the bottom of the tub which helps to stop your dog from slipping around, and this added traction may also help to keep them feeling more secure, particularly if they aren’t used to bath time or simply don’t enjoy it.

Another useful tip to consider is using a piece of steel wool or something similar to catch stray dog hairs that will otherwise clog your bath in no time at all. When you wash your dog, it’s safe to say that a fair amount of hair can come out in the rinse, and this will quickly block your plug if you aren’t careful, so pre-empting this with steel wool will save you a lot of hassle.

It’s also a good idea to give your dog a good brushing before you begin, as this helps to remove much of the loose hair that may be in their coat, and it’ll also help you to work in the shampoo with less difficulty.


Washing Your Dog

Firstly, you’ll want to make sure the water is warm enough to be comfortable for your dog, without it being too warm or too cold. In general, the temperature should be similar to what you’d use when bathing a baby.

Next, it’ll be time to get your dog thoroughly soaked, working from the neck down to give their coat a deep soaking before you apply the shampoo. However, it’s important to make sure you do not get any water in their ears, as this will be very uncomfortable and it can also lead to further ear problems, so it’s a good idea to avoid this area entirely. You will also need to be mindful of their eyes, too.

Most owners find it’s best to use a damp cloth around their dog’s eyes and ears, so they don’t run the risk of exposing them to too much water or shampoo in these sensitive areas. You can quickly clean your dog’s ears by wiping around the outer ear and the inner flap, and you do not want to put anything inside your dog’s ears at all.

Some owners like to keep their dog on the leash while giving them a bath, and you may find this helpful, although it certainly isn’t essential.

Once you have your dog nicely soaked you can begin shampooing them, working from the neck downwards, traveling down their body, and making sure not to miss the tail, legs, and paws.

Your dog may be feeling a little anxious during the bath, especially when the shampoo comes out, as the strange smells can be offputting when they aren’t familiar with them, so using a reassuring tone and an upbeat manner can help to put them at ease.

After you have thoroughly shampooed your dog, you can use a conditioner product to further nourish and protect their coat, or simply give them a final rinse using fresh water, either with a showerhead or a jug of some kind.

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Drying Your Dog

The best way dry your dog after a bath is to use an absorbent dog towel that will help you to quickly reduce the water that’s still left in your dog’s coat afterward.

Of course, you need to be prepared for your dog’s instinctive shaking reaction that they’ll perform to dry themselves, and a quality towel goes a long way towards mopping up any water that can come out when they do use this move.

You’ll also want to keep your dog nice and warm after the bath, so it’s a good idea to make sure they aren’t left with a cold, damp towel around them for too long.

Again, having a collection of towels handy is very useful, so once you have exhausted the absorption ability of one towel, you can switch to a fresh, dry towel to finish the job.

Once you have washed your dog they will also have softer nails, so this can be a good time to give them a trim if needed.

Finally, it’s a good idea to reward your dog with plenty of praise after a bath so they learn to enjoy the experience, and you may be surprised to see that your dog is often in a playful mood after they have been dried, too.

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Should I Use A Blow Dryer On My Dog?

While some owners like to use blow dryers to finish off the drying process, you will have to be very careful that you do not burn them with the added heat from a dryer, and the noise can also upset or distract some dogs, so this will be something to take very carefully in the early stages to see whether your dog is happy with it.

In general, it’s usually best to use a collection of towels, as this will keep your dog calm and also do an effective job for most dog coats. In fact, you may wish to purchase several dog towels for this purpose, because having plenty of these around can make the experience much easier overall.

How Often Should I Bathe My Dog?

While us humans usually like to wash every day if possible, this will certainly be too frequent for any dog. In general, there are no hard and fast rules about how often you should bathe your dog, but it’s generally considered smart to wash them if they have become particularly muddy after a dog walk or had a fun time rolling around in something dirty, for example.

For many dog owners, there are no specific rules for when they give the dog a bath, but if they are starting to smell particularly bad, or you can smell them before they’ve even entered the room, then you know it’s probably time for a bath!

But in general, you will not want to bath your dog any more frequently than once a week. If possible, it’s best to leave it a little longer and make good use of other cleaning techniques and regular grooming to keep their coat in good shape. Ultimately, bathing your dog too often can cause skin sensitivity, irritation, and dryness – as well as wash away many of the key oils that are needed to protect their coat naturally.

Fortunately, you’ll be surprised to see how far you can get with some doggy wet wipes, and staying on top of your dog’s general hygiene with some wet wipes will help to keep them fresh and clean even between bath times. So, if your dog has tracked through mud during a walk, then cleaning up their paws and pads may be all that’s required.

If you have a dog who manages to stay relatively clean and odor free, then bathing them around once a month is usually a good rule of thumb to aim for.

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What To Do If Your Dog Is Scared Of The Bath

Some dogs have a strong fear response when it comes to bath time, and this can often be linked to past traumatic experiences they may have experienced as a younger pup.

If possible, it’s best to make the bath time an enjoyable event, and it can be useful to give your dog some tasty treats when they first enter the bath so they learn to associate it with a positive event. Furthermore, giving your dog the opportunity to voluntarily enter the bath can also be useful, so they don’t feel like they’re being picked up and placed into a scary environment without having any control over the matter.

If your dog is still very scared of the water, then gradually introducing them to small amounts of the wet stuff can help to give them the gradual exposure they need to overcome their fears. Simply seeing the faucet rushing with water can be quite scary for some dogs, so letting them investigate smaller amounts of water or bathing them with a mere trickle can help to alleviate some of their anxiety.

If your dog is scared of the bath specifically, then you may prefer to wash them outside, but this isn’t always a good option in colder weather, so bear the conditions in mind before you attempt an outside washing session.

Another useful tactic for dogs who are scared of the bath is to consider doing it after a long dog walk, so they are tired out have less energy to fuel their anxiety.


  • Getting your dog familiar with the bath as a puppy can go a long way towards making the experience more relaxed and enjoyable as they grow older.
  • Investing in some good quality dog towels will make the drying process much easier, and having a handful around will mean you can dry your dog quickly and easily without having to use a blow dryer. They’re also useful for mopping up any spills or splashes, too.
  • If your dog has recently received flea or tick medication, then you’ll usually need to leave around 24 to 48 hours before getting them wet, to ensure you do not simply wash away the medication.
  • Having another set of hands can be very useful when you are bathing a dog, particularly if they are a larger breed or don’t enjoy bath times. Having those extra hands can help to reduce your dog’s anxiety as well as help them to stay put, which helps to avoid any slipping and sliding in the tub.
  • You can reduce the amount of bath your dog needs by staying on top of the grooming, using wet wipes, and even using dry dog shampoo to get rid of odors.
  • If you’re having trouble with a particularly difficult aspect of bathing your dog, then there’s no shame in taking your dog to a skilled professional who has the skills and experience to restore your dog into a fresh, clean, and odor-free condition!