Every pup parent needs to know how to give their dog a bath. Even if you send your dog to a professional pet groomer, you may still need to give an emergency bath once in a while. Learning how to bathe a dog should be on everyone's list before they even bring their canine companion home.
Most people think bathing is just getting your dog wet, rubbing in a little shampoo and then rinsing. There is so much more to it than that! What type of shampoo are you using? How are you planning to dry your dog? Where will the bath take place?
You'll notice that in this video I've used a pet towel to dry my dog. Pet towels for dogs are much more absorbent than regular human towels, and I do recommend them if you bathe your dog regularly.
We've put together a list of best dog towels for drying pets after a bath where we took a look at seven most absorbent options and have top picks for you.
Where do you groom and bathe your dog?
As you can see in my video, I bathe my dogs right in our bathtub. This is common for most pet owners. Some choose to use the sink if their dogs are small enough. You could also purchase a dog grooming tub if you choose. These tubs are more expensive, but they are on raised platforms so you don't have to bend over the entire time you're scrubbing and rinsing your dog.
If a grooming tub is out of your price range but you want to keep the mess out of your home, you may be able to bathe your dog outside. This can get a little touchy, though, as some dogs are afraid of being sprayed with a hose. You'll probably want to have a helper if you're going to attempt this.
READ THIS: How To Get Your Dog To Love Bathing
No matter where you decide to bathe your dog, there are some tips that you'll need to follow. There's more to it than just washing and rinsing, and you'll need to be sure that you know what you're doing. Learning how to bathe a dog the right way will save you some grooming headaches down the road.
As you'll notice in my video, Saddie is well trained but I still give her a treat when she gets in the bathtub and when we're finished.
You need to be sure to associate bathing with a positive experience, or your dog will never want to get back in the tub.
For more tips like that, check out our video on how to get your dog to love grooming and stay calm during the process linked below.
FULL GUIDE: How To Train A Dog To Enjoy Grooming & Stay Calm
How To Bathe A Dog – Step by Step Instructions
1. Select the right grooming products
THIS IS NEVER OKAY TO DO!
A dog's skin has a different pH than human skin, and it's crucial to use a shampoo formulated specifically for dogs. If you use human shampoo on your pooch it will dry out his skin and coat, cause him to itch and could do permanent damage to the appearance of his fur.
When learning how to bathe a dog, not only do you need to find a shampoo that is made specifically for dogs, but it has to be safe too. Many of the cheap shampoos you'll find on the shelves of big box stores are made with harsh chemicals, toxins and artificial ingredients.
Over time, these harmful ingredients can leech into your dog's blood stream through his skin and cause serious health problems.
Look for a shampoo made with natural ingredients that will be gently on your dog's skin and coat. Do some quick research before heading to the pet store.
Find a shampoo that is made with your dog's needs in mind. If he has dry skin, search for a formula that will help with that condition. If his coat is prone to mats and tangles, look for a dog shampoo that will help with that.
The all-natural dog shampoo from PL360 that I use in my video is a great choice for an all-around safe product. When in doubt, a consultation with a professional groomer can give you a lot of insight into the products that you should be using to groom your dog.
They will get you on track to buy the right shampoo, and they may also discuss other helpful products with you. Could your dog benefit from a canine conditioner or freshening spray?
NEED A RECOMMENDATION? The Best Dog Shampoo Review
2. Bathing your dog
Before your pup even gets in the tub, you'll need to give him a thorough brushing. This will help to remove any loose hair that may clog the drain and also get rid of any mats and tangles in his coat.
Setting the right water temperature is also very important. Your dog is more sensitive to heat than you are, so a temperature that feels good to you is going to be too hot for him. Set the temperature like you would if you were bathing an infant. Lukewarm water is best when learning how to bathe a dog.
You've got the right shampoo, your dog has been brushed and the water temperature is set. Now it's time to wash your dog. Learning how to bathe your dog isn't difficult. First, you'll need to give him a thorough rinse to ensure his coat is wet all the way through.
Apply a small amount of dog shampoo down his back. Trust me, if you're using a quality shampoo a little will go a long way! Start massaging the shampoo into your dog's coat, making sure to reach deep through the coat all the way to his skin. As you'll see in my video, I wet my dog's underbelly and apply a small amount of shampoo to my hands when I wash his belly and legs.
Make sure to work the shampoo over your dog's entire body, except for his head. You can wash his neck, but you don't want to risk getting shampoo in his eyes, ears, mouth or nose. It's best to quickly wipe his face before or after the bath with a warm washcloth. Once the shampoo has been worked through his entire coat, you need to let it sit for 10-15 minutes.
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I know this can be difficult, especially if you have a squirmy dog, but the shampoo won't be able to do its job if you don't allow it the proper time. You can read the instructions on the bottle, but most shampoos recommend letting them set for at least 10 minutes. I just continue scratching my dog and working the shampoo around for those ten minutes. Talking to your dog calmly will also help him stay still until you're done.
Now it's time for the rinse. One of the most important parts of learning how to bathe a dog is understanding the need for a thorough rinse. By this time many dog owners (and their pets) are just ready to get the task over with, but you need to ensure you properly rinse your dog.
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Leaving shampoo in his coat could lead to residue that will cause your dog to itch and possibly even give him a rash or other minor skin condition. Take the time to properly rinse him while running your fingers through his coat. By doing this, you'll be able to easily feel if there is any shampoo left behind.
Further reading on how to bathe a dog that you may find useful:
- Step By Step: How To Bathe Your Dog At Home Correctly
- Important Safety Tips for Dog Grooming At Home
- 6 Resources on Grooming-Intensive Dog Breeds
Drying your dog
I know what you're thinking, does drying really need its own section in this article? Let me explain. Many dog owners think that it will be best to dry their pets completely in order to prevent a wet mess all over the house. This is a great idea, but you should NEVER use a human hair dryer when learning how to bathe a dog.
As I mentioned, dogs are more sensitive to heat than we are. Human hair dryers will get too hot for your pet. Using one could result in burning your dog. If you want to use a blow dryer on your dog, make sure that you buy one specifically made for your dogs, like this one from Andis.
You'll see that I prefer to towel dry my dogs if you watched my video. Just make sure that you're gentle while you're drying your pet. Towel dry his entire body, including his belly, in his armpits, and his legs. The more water you can get out of his coat with the towel, the less there will be around your home.
Need more help drying a dog using a towel or a pet dryer? Take a look at the below video.