How to Bathe a Dog
Regularly bathing your dog is necessary to keep your pup’s skin and coat healthy, clean, and free of parasites. But for most people (and dogs) the entire process is something that is looked towards with dread. (You’re picturing a bad experience you’ve had right now, aren’t you?)
On top of that is the confusion you’ve probably experienced. Can I use the same shampoo I use? How often do I need to give my dog a bath? And just how exactly do I go about this whole thing without making a giant mess??
Keep reading to learn how to bathe a dog!
How Often Should I Bathe My Dog?
Dogs don’t require as frequent bathing as we do, but you do still need to be giving them baths on a regular basis. Just how often will depend on factors like your dog’s coat, their environment (rural vs. city condo), and habits (docile sleepers vs. puddle lovers).
Most dogs will be fine with just once per month, but if your dog has an oily coat then once per week may be necessary. Dogs with short, smooth coats as well as those with water-repellent coats like Golden Retrievers are fine with slightly less frequent baths every six weeks.
If your dog has a thick double coat (like Malamutes and other northern breeds), they are also better off with less frequent bathing, but you will need to brush them often to get rid of loose hair and to redistribute their natural oils around their skin and coat.
(While we’re talking about grooming, you might want to take a look at our article on how to clip your dog’s nails.)
Can I Use Human Shampoo on My Dog?
Definitely NOT! You should never use a shampoo made for humans on your dog. The pH of a dog’s skin is different than ours and will be irritated by human shampoos, which are much more acidic and will dry out and irritate your dog’s skin.
Use a shampoo specifically made for dogs. There are plenty of all-purpose dog shampoos to choose from, as well as those that are hypoallergenic or specially designed to combat nuisances like fleas and ticks.
How to Bathe Your Dog
Okay, now that we’ve got those questions out of the way let’s get into the actual process. I’ve written them out step by step, but there’s a video below which covers everything if you’d prefer to see how it’s done instead.
Step 1: Use a Calm, Positive Voice
During this whole process, it’s important to remember that dogs are excellent at reading your cues, both verbal and non-verbal. So if you’ve come to expect a nightmare during baths, they’ll sense your uneasiness and respond the same way.
Instead, take 5 minutes before beginning to relax your dog by petting them and talking to them in a happy, positive tone. Continue using this tone throughout the process. Some dogs will never get rid of the fear, but most will eventually learn that a bath is not torture.
(Related: learn how to give your fearful dog confidence).
Step 2: Brush Your Dog’s Coat
Before we get started with the bath, you first need to brush your dog’s coat. Make sure to get rid of any mats in your dog’s fur or they’ll get worse, which not only looks bad but is also quite painful for your dog.
Step 3: Give Your Dog Footing in the Tub
Many dogs have trouble keeping their footing while being bathed. Place a rubber mat or towel in the tub to keep your dog steady on their feet.
Step 4: Wet Your Dog & Test Temp
Filling the tub up with water like you would if you were taking a bath is not what you want to do with your dog. Avoid splashing messes by instead using a hose attachment or a bowl that you can use to pour water over them, being sure to test the water temp on yourself first.
Step 5: Time to Shampoo
Begin by working your dog’s shampoo around their neck, then continue by working your way down their body. Make sure that you’ve created a nice lather around your dog’s neck, back, legs and feet.
Step 6: Wash Your Dog’s Face Carefully
Gently wash your dog’s face using a washcloth, taking special care to avoid getting any water in your dog’s ears or eyes. If too much water gets in your dog’s ears it can cause them a painful infection.
Step 7: Time to Rinse
Use the hose attachment or bowl from earlier to thoroughly rinse the shampoo from your dog’s fur. Keep rinsing until you are absolutely sure that you’ve washed away all the shampoo.
Step 8: Drying Your Dog
If your dog has a short or medium coat, wrap them in a towel and give them a gentle rub over the full body. For dogs with long coats, after drying them with a towel, finish the job using a hairdryer (be very careful with the temperature).
Step 9: Brush and Treat
Now that your dog is dry, give their coat another brush to prevent any mats. Praise your dog for behaving and reward them with a favorite treat.
Follow these simple steps on how to bathe a dog and the whole process will no longer be a nightmare for you or your dog! Make sure to pin this so you can go over it again before your pup’s next bath time!