How to Bathe a Dog

In the movies or even in your favorite television shows you would be right in thinking scenes that involve a pet owner bathing their dog seem to make it look like a super fun and simple task, we may even be tempted to go as far as saying they make it look too easy!

Unfortunately, many people who don’t own dogs are unaware of the hassles, and even dangers of bathing their pets. Unlike us humans, your pooch really has an affection for being dirty and smelly. Some even like to become nervous and try to run if they feel that it will help them get out of the tub.

In the films, chasing your pet around the house while he is covered with soap may have seemed like comedy gold, but if you do it in real life, it’s not as funny as it seems.

Below is our quick guide on how to wash your own dog without experiencing any hassles:

How to Bathe a Dog: Step by Step Process

  1. Brush your pet’s hair so that the strands will not hold too much water and irritate the skin.
  2. Cover ears with a cotton ball.
  3. Bathe your dog using lukewarm water. Scalding hot water can easily burn anyone’s skin. The water that you use for dogs should be as warm as the bath water that you would use for a baby.
  4. Talk to your pet in a reassuring tone to keep them calm.
  5. Rinse properly. Make sure that you do not leave any excess soap in your dog’s fur, this will prevent skin from becoming irritated.

Use Positive Association

If you want to learn how to give a dog a bath successfully, you must first study how to add a more positive association to the bathroom. Positive association is always a must whenever you introduce something new to your pet.

To do this, you can give out tasty treats, kind words and toys, so your dog will stay in the tub for longer.

In addition, do not submerge your pet in water during the first stages of their bathtub training. Let your dog get used to the room first by letting them hop in the tub and staying there for several minutes while you are give them snacks and toys. Once your dog gets used to the environment, you can add warm water to the tub.

Keep repeating the same routine until your pooch finally feels safe in the tub. If you have an area in your home where you bathe your pet, encourage your dog in to that particular area, and offer treats whenever you’re obeyed.

Bath time training may take weeks depending on your pet’s abilities and your teaching style so patience is key, don’t give up too quickly if you feel your dog isn’t understanding.

how to bathe a dog

Keep the Ears Protected

A lot of inexperienced dog owners become so excited with washing their pet that they often forget to protect a dog’s ears. Make sure that water does not get inside your pet’s ears while bathing because it will not only make your dog feel uncomfortable but can also lead to serious health problems.

Ideally, you should only wash your dog from the neck down to also protect the eyes and mouth. Use a bucket or sprayer to do this, however in some cases with larger dogs with longer fur washing around the ears is absolutely fine as the image in this article shows. For cautious pet owners some sprayers are especially designed for your pet’s grooming needs and may be worth investing it if you have a family of pooches or a particularly messy dog.

To clean your dog’s face, wipe it using a damp cloth.

It’s better to start when still young

Other articles that discuss how to wash dog agree that you should start teaching your pet about bath time while still young. If your dog is introduced to this concept while he is still a puppy, he will not be too hesitant to hop in the tub when he grows up making your life easier when it comes to bath time.

What can I Wash my Dog with?

Avoid using human shampoo when bathing your pooch. A dog’s skin and fur has a thin layer of oil that prevents bacteria and small organisms from entering the body. Human soap and shampoo are too acidic for your pets. It can wash out the protective oils on the surface of their skin and make them irritated.

As much as possible, only use grooming products that are specially formulated for dogs. If you are not sure what to buy, consult our guide to find the best dog shampoo for your pet.

Where should you Bathe your Dog?

Aside from learning how to bathe a dog, you also need to check out the most ideal spots where you can clean your dog up to make the task easier.

Ideally, you should bathe your pooch in a raised tub. However, if you do not have one at home you can compromise. For small-breed dogs you can simply wash them in the kitchen sink or a regular bathtub.

The garden is also a great venue for bath time, provided that you use a garden hose and the climate is warm enough.

There are also towns with a DIY pet bathing area where you can use an elevated tub plus grooming supplies by paying a fee which is worth checking to find if there is one in your area.

How to Keep your Pet Safe while Taking a Bath?

You should be wary that the floor of a bathtub can be slippery even for your dog. You can use an anti-slip mat for safety, or you can also place a towel on the floor. If it is his first time to take a bath, you can ask for assistance to distract your dog if needed as well as hold them steady or give out occasional treats.

How Often should you Bathe your Pooch?

Unlike humans, dogs do not need daily scrubbing but they still need to take a bath regularly. The schedule will depend on different factors such as the environment and the type of fur that your dog has.

As a rule of thumb, a monthly bathing schedule works fine for most breeds. However, breeds with an oilier coat such as a Basset Hound need to bathe once a week or once every two weeks.

If your dog has short hair and smooth coat, you do not have to bathe them frequently. Some breeds such as the Basenji are also conscious about their personal hygiene, so they do not need to be groomed too much.

Breeds with water-repellent coats like the Great Pyrenees, or dogs with double coats like the Alaskan Malamute, do not need frequent baths to preserve their natural oils. However, since their fur is long and thick, you need to brush them regularly to remove dead hairs and evenly spread the natural oil across their body. For more information about the hygiene habits of your particular breed of dog it is worth consulting your vet.


Bathing your dog may not be easy at first but it gets better as time goes by. Make sure to practice what you’ve read in this article so you can fully learn how to wash your dog in a proper manner.

Read More: If your dog is still a puppy check out our guide on how to bathe a puppy.

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