Dog Bathing 101: Everything To Know About Keeping Your Dog Clean

How often should you bathe your dog? How do you go about starting? What grooming products should you use? Read more in dog bathing 101.

Becky Bicks

Updated November 02, 2022 • Published June 18, 2020

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Dog Bathing 101: Everything To Know About Keeping Your Dog Clean

If you have a furry friend at home, you are well aware that it can be hard to keep them clean. After all, what pup doesn't love to go dig in the yard or jump right into the muddiest puddle they can find? However, if you want your dog to be clean enough to be inside of your home and that you keep a good handle on your their skin and coat health, it is important to bathe them regularly.

If you are a new dog owner or you are not sure how to give your dog a bath, it can help to learn the proper technique. Here are some helpful guidelines for understanding how to give a dog a bath.

When To Give Your Dog A Bath

It's important to time your dog's baths correctly. Dogs should not be bathed too often, because it can be hard on their skin and coat. However, they shouldn't go too long without being bathed for health and sanitary reasons. According to experts at the American Kennel Club, the frequency of your dog's baths will depend on his breed, coat, lifestyle, and overall health. For most medium hair dogs, experts recommend that they be bathed every four to six weeks, with light maintenance in between baths. Hairless dogs may require more frequent baths in order to keep their skin clean and healthy, while some dogs with long, unique coats may require baths that are more infrequent (like the Puli).

What You'll Need For A Dog Bath

When preparing to give your dog a bath, make sure you have all the necessary supplies. Experts at the Humane Society remind dog owners to make sure they have a dog shampoo and conditioner (not a human shampoo and conditioner), since human shampoo is usually too harsh for a dog's coat. You'll also need a water source, a place to contain your dog while being bathed (like a bathtub or baby pool, since a lot of dogs can consider bath time torture and may want to dart away during it) , and a towel for drying after the bath is over. (You may need a few extra supplies if your pup particularly hates bathtime and you need some extra support keeping him still, which we have outlined below!)

Canva - Dog wash, puppy gets a bath

How To Give Your Dog A Bath

Here are the steps to take to give your dog a bath once you have gathered the proper supplies:

  • Make sure that your dog is on a nonstick surface in the bath, then use the water source, like a hose or a faucet, to wet their skin and fur.

  • Put a small amount of dog shampoo on your palm, and lather your dog. Make sure that you get to all of the important parts and don't forget ones that may be in need of cleaning, like the bottoms of all four paws.

  • Rinse your dog off twice thoroughly to make sure there is no soap remaining. Leaving shampoo on your dog's skin can cause him to itch.

How To Dry Your Dog After A Bath

After you have given your dog a bath, you will want to make sure that you dry them thoroughly. Experts at the ASPCA recommend having a couple of towels on hand so that you can use them to get your dog's coat thoroughly dry. (They also recommend having a towel for yourself because there is a good chance that you are going to get wet when your dog finally gets to shake off all that clean water!)

Brushing Your Dog After A Bath

Once you have bathed your dog and you are sure that all of the shampoo and conditioner has been rinsed out of their coat, you will want to brush your dog. Brushing your dog's clean hair gives you a good chance to remove knots and mats and to ensure that his hair becomes as untangled as possible.

Bath Time Tips For Your Dog

Giving your dog a bath is necessary, but it can be tough, depending on whether your dog enjoys the process or not. Here are some tips that can make bath time easier both for you and your furry friend.

Use A Leash And Collar

If your dog has a tendency to dart from the bath, use a leash and collar to keep them safe and in place. Make sure you use a waterproof collar since it will get wet, and also that the collar has an ID tag should your dog be able to run from your house or yard if they are unhappy.

Canva - Dog in bathtub

Take Advantage Of Treats

Treats are a good way to keep your dog happy and calm while you bathe them. Receiving treats will help them associate the bath with being rewarded and not punished. Amanda Dykstra, DVM, DABVP and vet at the Monroe County Animal Shelter, says training treats can be great for bath and grooming time. She explains that when talking to new dog owners learning to give baths for the first time, "I always recommend giving the puppy a lot of petting and praise... For dogs motivated by food, training treats help the process go smoothly."

Invest In Real Grooming Equipment

Groomers have special equipment, like tethers, that can help to keep your dog still but comfortable. Consider investing in grooming equipment for a dog who does not like baths.

Do It When They're Tired

One of the best times to bathe your dog is when he is tired. Dogs with little energy have less energy to resist or run. A sleepy dog may even enjoy being able to be still and rubbed by you in the bath, which will make the process easier.

Consider A Professional Groomer

Sometimes, dogs can just be too tough to bathe on your own. For these tricky cases, consider using a professional groomer. If you want to makes you're going to a good groomer, The ASPCA recommends asking your vet.

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