How to Give Your Dog a Bath: Step-by-Step Guide

Your dog can get stinky if you don’t bathe them often enough, but that’s not the only reason you need to bathe your dog. Bathing helps keep a dog’s coat and skin healthy, which helps keep your pooch clean and free of dirt and parasites.

While bathing a dog may seem easy, there are several things to consider if you want to do it right. First off, you need to create a comfortable environment to help prevent dog anxiety. The more pleasant you can make bath time for your dog, the easier it will be to bathe them on a regular schedule. You also need to choose the right products if you don’t want to trigger dog allergies or dry out your dog’s skin and coat.

The good news is, you don’t have to be a professional to give your dog regular baths and keep their coat clean and shiny. Your vet can help you choose the right shampoo for your dog and give you tips for creating a comfortable environment to make bathing easier. Understanding how to give your dog a bath is an essential part of being a dog owner. If you need help keeping your dog clean and healthy, here are some basic guidelines.

Set up a comfortable environment for your dog

Getting your dog to sit still and behave while they take a bath isn’t always easy. Some dogs don’t like baths, and dogs who do like baths may get too excited during bathtime, which leads to a whole new set of problems. If you’re just learning how to bathe a dog, you should start by making sure you’ve got a comfortable environment set up for your dog.

First things first, you’ll need to choose the best place to bathe your dog. The size and breed of your dog has a lot to do with where you bathe them. If you’ve got a large sink and a small dog, you may be able to bathe them in the sink. Larger dogs typically need a full-size bathtub. It’s also important to consider what your dog seems to like. If you’ve got a smaller dog who prefers the bathtub over the sink, you should bathe them in the tub to make sure they’re comfortable.

It’s also important to properly prepare your dog for a bath to make sure they’re comfortable. You can start by brushing your dog’s coat to get any tangles out, as these tangles can cause mats when their coat gets wet. You should also make sure your dog knows that bathtime is a positive experience and not something to be afraid of, so try to get them excited about taking a bath.

owner scrubbing dogs neck and ears in bath

If you notice your dog chewing paws or displaying any other potential signs of anxiety, consider changing their bathing environment to help keep them more comfortable. Your dog may prefer bathing outdoors, or they may simply need a bit more love and attention while you get them ready for their bath.

Use the appropriate products

As a dog owner, it’s important that you choose the right products for your dog, whether you’re talking about dog food or shampoo. Human shampoo isn’t designed for dogs, and it’s important to make sure you take good care of your dog’s coat. If you’re not sure what kind of shampoo you should use when bathing your dog, you can ask your vet for tips about how to bathe a dog and what products to use.

Ingredients are one of the biggest things to look out for when it comes to shampoo for dogs. Certain ingredients may lead to dog dermatitis and other skin conditions, so you should look for natural shampoos that aren’t loaded with harmful chemicals. Some of the dog shampoo ingredients you should avoid include:

  • Artificial colors
  • Artificial fragrances
  • Phthalates
  • Formaldehyde preservatives
  • Isothiazolinone preservatives
  • Paraben preservatives
  • Cocamide-MEA
  • Triethanolamine
  • Mineral oil
  • Polyethylene glycol
  • Propylene glycol
Avoid dog shampoos with these ingredients

Certain preservatives and other chemicals can actually dry out your dog’s skin and coat, which can lead to itching, dermatitis, and other issues.

You should also ask your vet about using a dog shower brush to help clean your dog’s coat when you bathe them. Having all the right tools is an important part of how to give your dog a bath, and shower brushes can help you get under the top layer of their coat for a more thorough cleaning.

a dog shower brush can help you clean your dog’s coat thoroughly

Remember, it’s always best to ask your veterinarian for a recommendation before you choose dog shampoos, dog food, or other products for your dog.

Bathe your dog

Now that you’ve got all the prep work out of the way, we’ll talk about how to bathe a dog. Giving your dog a bath isn’t rocket science, but there are some important things for pet owners to consider. The first thing you should do when you’re bathing a dog is check the water temperature and pressure before you get started. If the water pressure is too high or the water is too hot or cold, your dog won’t relax while you bathe them.

 Always check water temperature and pressure before bathing a dog



Once the water is good to go, you can start by thoroughly wetting your dog’s coat. You want to saturate their entire coat rather than just the top layer, so make sure you take your time with this step. This may be especially difficult if your dog has a thick or water-resistant coat.

 

After you’ve wet your dog’s entire coat, you can dilute shampoo with water and apply it to your dog’s coat. Make sure you’re extra careful around sensitive areas such as the eyes, nose, and mouth. Getting water in your dog’s ears can also make dog ear infection symptoms worse, so be careful. As you shampoo your dog’s coat, give them a little massage to keep them comfortable and work the shampoo deeper down into their coat. You should let the shampoo remain on your dog’s coat for a few minutes before you rinse it off.

When your dog is done with their bath, grab a towel and make sure you dry them off thoroughly. Thorough drying is an important part of how to make your dog smell good after a bath, and leaving damp spots can also lead to dermatitis in dogs. You may need to use multiple towels if you’ve got a larger dog or a dog with lots of fur.

Once bathtime is over, make sure you give your dog a reward to let them know they did good and help them enjoy bath time.

Bathing Your Dog: Frequently Asked Questions

How often should dogs be bathed?

If you’re wondering how often to bathe your dog, it depends on the breed, thickness of coat, and more. At the very least, you should bathe your dog once every two or three months. If your dog has an especially thick or greasy coat, you might want to bathe them once a month or more. For dogs with skin conditions such as dermatitis, it’s best to talk to your vet about how often to bathe your dog and what kind of shampoo to use.

Should you shower or bathe a dog?

When it comes to deciding between a shower or a bath, there’s really no wrong answer. Some dogs may prefer to relax in a bathtub with no running water, while others may prefer the excitement of a showerhead raining water down on them. Some dog owners even bathe their dogs with a hose in the yard.

Finding something that works for you is an important part of how to bathe a dog. You want your dog to be comfortable during bathtime, and you don’t want to make a mess of your bathroom or house. Experiment with different bathing spots until you find something that works well for your dog.

Can I use human shampoo on my dog?

You might have a fancy, natural brand of human shampoo that you’re thinking about using to bathe your dog. After all, shampoo that’s good enough for humans should work for dogs, right? Using human shampoo on dogs can disrupt the acid mantle, which can make your dog more susceptible to parasites, bacteria, and viruses. Certain shampoos may also dry out your dog’s coat and skin faster, which can lead to itchy skin and dermatitis.

Instead of using a human shampoo, you should talk to your vet about finding a good dog shampoo. Using the right shampoo helps keep your pup happy and healthy.

Do dogs like warm or cold baths?

Typically, dogs prefer a warm bath to a cold bath. However, it’s important to consider the climate and temperature where you’re at, as well as what kind of dog you have. Breeds that are built for the cold might prefer a colder bath during the summer, but it’s important to keep dogs with thinner coats warm during bath time.

It’s important to keep in mind that dogs don’t like their showers too hot, either. Hot showers can make your dog uncomfortable and dry out their skin, so you should keep the water temperature lukewarm at all times.

Dog owner washing dog’s ears

Final Notes

Bathing your dog is an important part of keeping them healthy, but you need to know how to bathe a dog. You need to create a comfortable bathing environment, choose the right products, and bathe your dog regularly.

Whether you’re having trouble finding the right shampoo or spotting dog food allergy symptoms, Dutch can help. We can connect you with experts who can offer pet care tips, recommendations, and treatments whether you’ve got a small dog or a Great Dane. Contact Dutch to learn more about how we can help you take better care of your dog.