Dog Bathing Tips - How to Give a Dog a Bath

Dog grooming is part of the deal after you decide to have a dog as your new family member. Clipping nails, brushing hair and bathing your dog should now be part of your weekly routine, and for pet owners who love to groom their dogs themselves, these dog bathing tips will come in handy.

As most dog owners know, canines are rarely excited about taking a bath – most dogs dislike getting wet, which is especially true when they are being forced into it. But maintaining clean coat is necessary for a dog, and if you’re a caring and responsible pet owner, you’ll take these dog bathing tips into consideration. Although some dog owners can afford to have their dogs bathed at a professional groomer (or even have a mobile dog bath in a van come to their house), majority of us attempt to enjoy this bonding time.

If these dog bathing tips on how to give a dog a bath aren’t detailed enough, you can also educate yourself on the full process by reading some dog care literature: try our list of 25 best dog books, which include some good dog care book suggestions from experienced pet owners. Also, remember to consider the place where you’re going to bathe your dog using these dog bathing tips, as well as any dog grooming equipment that you’ll need.

Dog Bathing Tips: How to Give a Dog a Bath


Dog bathing tips #1: Prepare to bathe your dog

First, you must get yourself ready for the process. Put on some clothes which you don’t mind getting wet and possibly dirty as well as covered in dog hair.

Bring over all of your dog grooming equipment to wherever you are about to undertake this task, either in your bathroom or, if the weather is good and you have a good dog washtub – outside. Have your dog shampoo ready (you can consult with veterinarian about which dog shampoo to use, or you can make your own homemade dog shampoo) and conditioner, which is only necessary for dogs with really long coats which you must brush later (remember to have a dog brush handy, too).

Besides having some healthy dog treats with you (which you should always have on hand), there are other dog grooming things that aren’t essential but can be helpful for the ultimate dog cleaning procedure:

If you’re giving a dog a bath in your home in the bathroom, don’t forget to lay some towels down on the floor – things might get messy. Preferably though, try to get something that will not slide underneath your dog’s feet, like a non-skid mat (e.g. a high-grade one from PetFusion).

Note: If you don’t have a detachable shower head, then try the technique with a large cup or some bowl that will help you rinse down the dog.

Dog Bathing Tips How to Give a Dog a Bath - Considerate
Dog bathing tips: Be considerate and take it slowly and be gentle. / Photo: Maja Dumat


Dog bathing tips #2: Get your dog ready

Next step is to make sure your canine is prepared to be bathed. There isn’t much to do in terms of preparation in this regard, but trimming your pooch’s nails wouldn’t be the worst idea for two reasons:

  1. It will help your dog to have a stronger footing in the tub (or wherever you’re washing them)
  2. You will protect yourself from unnecessary damage in case your dog is going to break for it

Time to take your dog to the bathroom. If your canine is one of the many who dislikes being bathed, then this might become a challenge in itself with which you have to deal efficiently. Even treats won’t work most of the time if your Fido has already figured out what you want to do. Find a way to get your dog in a washtub and make sure to close the door behind you. You really don’t want a wet, soapy pet running around your home in case they escape somehow.

Once in the bathroom – give your pooch a dog treat.

Remember to do the same thing as soon as you take your pet into the actual bathtub as well. Big part of good dog bathing tips practice is that positive reinforcement is necessary at this point if you want to make sure that your future dog bathing adventures will have a more positive outcome and a less stressful process. In fact, try offering your pets a treat even before they get into the tub, and as soon as they enter the bathroom.

Note: To protect your dog’s ears, you can try inserting some cotton balls into their ears (be very gentle, and do not push too deep). This will help to keep the water out. Don’t forget to take them out as soon as you’re done giving a dog a bath. Use mineral oil mentioned above to protect your Fido’s eyes from irritation, because some dog shampoo no doubt will get into their eyes, which you probably won’t notice (but your pet definitely will).


Dog bathing tips #3: Get your dog into the tub

Dog Bathing Tips How to Give a Dog a Bath
Get your dog into the tub.

If your dog is a large breed, the size of Newfoundland and up to Great Dane, then obviously you might want to have at least a second person helping you with these dog bathing tips, especially if the pet is really caprice or passionately hates baths.

Now, before you somehow manage to get your dog into the actual bath tub, let the water run and check that it has a good spring water temperature: not too hot and not too cold.

Try to “introduce” your pooch to water gradually.

Have them hear the water running, then get them into the tub and let the dog touch a little bit of it. The secret is to do everything slowly and gently, with no sudden movements or hard force. Never drop your dog into a tub and start spraying with water immediately; this will only make your future bathing endeavors that much harder. Even though you can overpower your canine, you’re only doing yourself a disservice.

After you got your dog wet, it’s time to introduce dog shampoo. Start gently shampooing them from shoulders and moving on from there all across the body. Be very careful around the dog’s face as well as any other areas that can be sensitive to them. Just like bathing a child, it’s important to not push too hard, but you also need to get all the way to the undercoat, which often gets dirty over time.

For more specific details and directions on how to use the dog shampoo you have, read their labels – most of them have detailed step by step directions.

When you covered your pooch all over with shampoo, it’s time to rinse it out. Use your fingers and get right into the undercoat when doing so. This will help to avoid subsequent irritation. At this point you can introduce your detachable shower head or, if you don’t have it, try with a big cup or bowl.


Dog bathing tips #4: Finishing it off

Rinsing out. Last step of dog bathing tips is after you rinsed out all the shampoo (make sure that you really did), it’s time to use a little bit of conditioner for dogs with longer coats. Again, check the bottle for detailed step by step explanation on the best way to use that particular dog conditioner: how much and how to apply it. Remember that similarly to conditioners for people, they need to stay on dog’s hair for a few minutes to soak in and actually have an effect on canine’s coat.

If your dogs are especially caprice and squirmy, you might need something that will work a lot quicker, because keeping your dog in the tub for additional 2-3 minutes will not always be easy (and most dogs certainly won’t enjoy the procedure either). Once you followed the directions and rinsed out the conditioner, it’s time to move onto the next dog bathing tips step.

Dog Bathing Tips How to Give a Dog a Bath - Towel Dry
Dog bathing tips: Towel dry your dog well. / Photo: Marc Soller

Towel drying. Dry your wet pet very well. You can use several of very good absorbent home towels, but normally, it’s recommended to purchase a special dog drying towel (mentioned above) for those regular bathing ventures.

Those towels do wonders and will get most of the water out of your pet’s coat significantly quicker than regular ones.

When towel drying of your dog is completed, for breeds with longer furs it would be a good idea to use a blow dryer. Another complicated matter if your pooch is scared of the sound, but unfortunately, there’s not much that can be done here aside from using the blow drying on the lowest blow-strength setting.

Blow drying. After you’ve blow-dried your dog’s coat, you can give them a really good brush. If you’re okay with hair everywhere around your house, then it’s not necessary to do this in the bathroom, and because the dog is already dry, you can finish off the whole giving a dog a bath process outside of the “tainted” territory.

However, make sure to brush your canine’s coat thoroughly, particularly if they have long and/or dense fur. You can use a regular dog brush, or combine it with a session of deshedding tool as well.

After your pooch is done with the bath, they might “go crazy” as most dogs do and start running around; let them do this, but prepare in advance. If you know this will happen, don’t let your pet out of the bathroom before everything on the dog bathing tips checklist is completed. Otherwise, it will take you a while to bring them down and continue with the process.

Note: Bathing will loosen up a lot of fur on your dog, so when you brush their coat, there will be substantially more dog hair coming out than usual. It’s a good idea to consider this if you’re worried about the hair all over the house.