When is it Safe to Wash a Puppy?

Cleaner Paws is a mother-daughter run blog. Together we have over 40+ years of professional pet grooming experience and we hope to pass some of that on to our readers throughout our in-depth and non-bias reviews and buyers guides.

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This review guide was updated in November 2018.


When can you wash a Puppy and ensure that it is a pleasurable experience for them? – This is a common question we get asked here at Cleaner Paws.

As a basic rule of thumb, let the mother lick her puppies clean if they’re less than three months old. At the three to four month stage, it is considered safe for you to begin bathing them.

However, at that age, keeping your puppy clean isn’t just about filling a tub with water and trying to cautious to keep it out of their eyes.

Remember: taking a bath is going to be a part of your puppy’s entire life, and it should be a pleasant experience for them at an early age so they come to enjoy the sensations of being washed and won’t struggle so much in the future.

Its key to bear in mind that although your puppy may be easy to handle now, how straightforward is the same grooming procedure going to be when your pup has put on another 30lb?

It’s because of this that we wanted to create this guide in the first place.

By helping you to make bath time a pleasurable experience now means it will be something your dog they look forward to as they grow older, rather than running off at the first sight of water. This means you can raise a dog with a silky smooth coat and great smelling fur without the hassle.

The Basics: What You Should Prepare

  • Doggie treats (very important)
  • A washcloth
  • A large tub of warm or tepid water
  • A hose set on the softest spray level
  • Non-toxic shampoo specially designed for puppies
  • A large towel for drying off
  • A blow dryer (optional)
  • A wide tooth comb specially designed for dogs
  • A pair of scissors
  • A nail clipper
  • A collar and a leash (optional)
  • Another person to assist in giving treats while your hands are wet or shampooed up (optional)

Okay, that about sums it up. If you have all of those, then you’re ready to move on to the next step.

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when can you bathe a puppy for the first time

Easing your Puppy in

A puppy is used to being cleaned by their mother.

The mother does this by licking the puppy thoroughly, so it’s only logical to try a method to mimic this motion first to ease your puppy into bath time.

First, have a wet washcloth, non-toxic shampoo and a tub of warm or tepid water at hand.

Place your puppy near these items, then give out some treats.

The scent of all of these items should register as pleasant in your puppy’s mind when they begin to associate these smells with treats.

As soon as the initial excitement is over, slowly wipe your puppy with the wet cloth, then give them another treat. Every time you wipe, give a small treat.

Next, place a small amount of shampoo on your palms and rub them together.

This should warm the shampoo up.

Proceed to rub the shampoo on your puppy’s entire body. For this stage, it would be good to have another person who can help you out with feeding the treats to your puppy at the same time to keep the experience pleasurable for both you and your pet and to avoid too much stress early on.

Thoroughly wipe off the shampoo with the wet washcloth and dry your puppy immediately with a towel.

This is also the best time to groom your dog.

You can cut their fur and nails if they are already too long.

By doing this, your puppy will begin to understand the whole process and will eventually look forward to each bath and grooming session without any fuss.

Moving on from Washing to Bathing

As soon as your puppy is old enough, slowly introduce them to bath time by dipping them into a tub with just enough water to cover their paws.

Gently gather some water in your palm and pour it slowly over your puppy’s body.

After your pooch is thoroughly wet with water, rub some shampoo into his fur and gently lather it up.

Rinse the shampoo off entirely and towel your puppy dry.

You can also use a hose with a light spray of water to get your puppy used to the feeling of being hosed clean.

Set your hose to a fine mist and spray your pet with the water until they are thoroughly wet. Gently rub some shampoo into their fur, and lather it up.

After you’re done, rinse off the shampoo and wipe your puppy dry.

This will be helpful when they get older and all you will need to do to clean your dog up is to hose them down.

How Often can I Bathe my Puppy?

Some sort of routine is good and cleaning your puppy every week will do no harm.

As your puppy gets older, you can clean them less regularly, for example, every other week or so or depending how messy your dog tends to get on walks.

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And last, but not the least…

Just to reiterate – It is advised you start to bathe a puppy when they are  3 to 3 ½ months old. To do this start by using a washcloth and slowly integrate bathing towards the end.

After 3 ½ months, you should be able to bathe your puppy in a tub comfortably or by using a hose without any struggle.

Never forget to give out a treat after each session, so your puppy will always look forward to their next bath time.

About the author

    Jenny Nolan

    Hey, I'm Jenny and along with Mom Sue the main contributor here at Cleaner Paws. As a mother-daughter partnership, we absolutely adore animals and together have over 40 plus years of pet grooming experience!

    12comments
    Liv

    Thank you! Looked everywhere for this information 🙂

    Reply
      Jenny Nolan

      So glad you found it useful Liv 🙂

      Reply
    Jackie

    Is there any situations where you would recommend bathing a puppy before the age mentioned above?

    Reply
      Jenny Nolan

      Hey Jackie, If your pup has managed to get into the type of mess that only a bath will clean then yes, however before the age of 3 months we would recommend a wipe down if possible.

      Reply
    Bee

    Shared this with a friend who’s recently adopting a young puppy. Will let you know how she gets on!

    Reply
      Jenny Nolan

      Please do!

      Reply
    Madison

    Super useful, can’t wait to give my bichon her first bath!

    Reply
    Jimmi

    Thank You Jenny, Loved this article. Finding CleanerPaws to be a valuable resource for a pet owner.

    Reply
      Jenny Nolan

      Comments like this make it all worthwhile 🙂

      Reply
    Jenny Nolan

    I’m so glad, I hope your pup enjoys her first bath!

    Reply
    Lizz

    Will be following this guide every step of the way when I bathe my pup 🙂

    Reply
      Jenny Nolan

      Great, please let us know how you get on and remember to pop back if you have any questions.

      Reply
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