How to Give Your Dog A Bath
If you're wondering how to give your dog a bath at home, you've come to the right place! That's because here at The Healthy Dog Co, we know a thing or two about doggie bath time.
Even though it's not the most loved chore, it can be turned into a tolerable experience for you and your pup!
You just need to be aware of a few essentials and apply some of our doggie bath time hacks!
That said, here are the basics we'll cover in this article:
- How often you should bathe your dog
- What you need to give your dog a bath
- How to get your dog into the tub & wash them
- How to dry your dog after a bath
Additionally, we'll cover these extra topics:
- Tub alternatives for tiny as well as large dogs
- How to give your dog a flea bath
- Why dogs go crazy after a bath
Are you ready to dive right in, pun intended? Let's go!
How to Give Your Dog A Bath
How Often Should You Bathe Your Dog?
So, how often should you wash your dog?
Well, there's no one right answer because it depends on a few factors, but generally speaking, you can wash your healthy dog once to twice a month.
Too frequent baths can rob your dog's skin of their naturally occurring oils and cause it to become dry and flaky.
Obviously, you'll want to make time for some extra baths if your dog decided to have some fun in a mud puddle, roll in dog, cow or horse poop or if (s)he got sprayed by a skunk.
You should also wash your dog with fresh water after a dip in the salty ocean.
Fleas are another reason why you should give your dog more frequent baths than usual, but we'll cover that in a later section along with a clever hack to outsmart fleas!
What You Need to Give Your Dog A Bath At Home
Now, besides time you'll need the following items to give your dog a bath:
- A dog brush or grooming glove
- (Microfiber) doggie towels
- Old clothes for yourself
- Dog shampoo and conditioner
- Optional: cotton balls
- Handheld shower head with hose or small bucket
It's a good idea to brush your dog down with a dog brush or a dog grooming glove before you give them a bath. That's going to remove loose hair that won't have to travel down your drain.
Next, go ahead and line the floor right in front of and/or next to the tub with some old towels. It's impossible to avoid at least some splashing while you give your dog a bath, and it's just easier to contain it that way.
The towels are also going to provide a non-slippery surface for your pup to walk on once they get out of the tub.
Here's a hot tip for yourself: Unless you don't care about your clothes getting wet and/or dirty, wear some gym clothes or even a bathing suit!
But back to your pooch.
It's important to invest in a high-quality dog shampoo and conditioner instead of using your own human shampoo or body wash on your dog's coat.
That's because our human bathroom products are designed for our skin and dry out dog skin.
The dog shampoos and conditioners from The Healthy DogCo are the perfect fit for your dog's baths because they're:
- gentle on the skin
- effective from a cleaning perspective, and
- leave your pup feeling and smelling nice and clean.
Tip: You can place cotton balls into your dog's ears to avoid them getting wet inside. Just don't forget to remove them after your dog's bath!
How to Get Your Dog Into The Tub
It's easiest to get your dog into the tub after they've drained some of their energy on a walk, hike or during playtime. That way, they're much less likely to put up a fight.
That said, dogs are smart and typically know what to expect by your tone of voice or certain words that you use to communicate bath time with. So, the less you talk about it, the better!
If your pup won't willingly follow you into the bathroom, leashing them can really help. Try to make the experience as positive as possible by avoiding tension on the lead.
And yes, it's OK to "bribe" them with high value treats like cut up hot dog or plain cheese while you're on your way to the tub. If your pup's not food-motivated, try something else they really enjoy. For example, a favourite (squeaky) toy.
Once you're in the bathroom, close the bathroom door to make sure your pup won't take off.
Next, line the tub floor with a towel, toss some of the treats (or the toy) into the tub and guide or lift them in there.
Don't forget to praise them for being a good girl or boy and feed them a few more treats while you turn on the water.
The towel ensures your pup won't slip and get hurt.
Tip: Keep your treats or the toy in a treat pouch that you can clip to your pants. That way, they're easily accessible.
How to Wash Your Dog
Now that your pup is in the tub (or shower stall) and the water's running at a warm temperature, it's time to get down to business.
If you have a handheld shower head with a long hose, move it all around your dog's body and wet your dog's coat thoroughly. That includes their belly, the insides of their thighs, private parts and tail.
Try to avoid their eyes and the insides of their ears! Instead, use a washcloth to wash your dog's face.
Next, use one of our shampoos to lather up your pup.
For example, our All-Natural Dog Shampoo with Baby Powder Scent. It:
- nourishes, and
- conditions your dog's coat
Besides that, your fur baby will LOVE the gentle formula (no sting, no tears)!
It easily removes tangles, naturally eliminates odours, deeply moisturises dry skin and is safe for all coat colours, including white coats.
Leave the shampoo on your dog's coat for a few minutes. Then rinse it off until the water runs clear.
If you're using a small bucket or similar device instead of a shower sprayer, it'll take a bit longer to get your dog wet and rinse the shampoo back off. Make sure you also get their belly and the insides of their thighs.
Tip: If your pup's extra dirty, wash off as much of the dirt as possible before you lather up their coat.
You may have to literally rinse and repeat a few times depending on the severity of your dog's coat condition.
How to Dry Your Dog After A Bath
Now that your pup's clean, it's time to dry them off, especially if it's cold outside and if they have a thick double coat that retains water well.
You'll need towels, but before you start using them on your pup, let them shake off as much of it as possible while they're still in the tub.
Then you can go ahead and put a towel over your dog's body. You may want to invest into a few microfiber towels because they absorb much more water than regular towels.
Gently start drying their head and neck, followed by their back, tail, legs, belly and paws.
That's all you need to do for dogs with short, thin coats UNLESS it's cold outside. If that's the case, you can add some additional drying time with your blow dryer.
Always use the lowest heat setting or the cool air setting if your blow dryer has that option.
Don't forget to dry your dog in circular motions when you're using a blow dryer to avoid hurting their skin.
Tip: Dogs with short, thin coats can also air-dry in the sun!
For dogs with curly or long hair, you'll want to combine towel-drying and blow drying them.
Also don't forget to brush them out in order to avoid mats!
The best way to go about this is to blow dry your dog in sections where you dry one area and then brush it out before you dry the next area.
Brushes that work well for this purpose are so-called slicker brushes.
How to Wash Tiny AND Large Dogs Without A Bathtub
Next are a few suggestions for anyone who doesn't have a bathtub.
If you have a tiny dog breed or a small puppy, you can also give them a bath in your kitchen or laundry room sink. It'll also be a bit more comfortable for you since you won't have to bend over quite as much!
For people with a large breed that doesn't fit well into your tub, you can opt to give them a bath outside in the yard if you have one.
Obviously, this is weather permitting, but all you need is a kiddie pool and a garden hose or a bucket.
Another alternative would be to take your large pup to a professional dog salon. They should be able to accommodate dogs of all sizes!
Tip: You can bring your own shampoo and/or conditioner along and ask the groomers to use them for your pup's bath.
How to Give Your Dog A Flea Bath
If your dog has fleas, you'll want to bathe them with a specific flea shampoo like our All-Natural Flea Shampoo. It doesn't just kill live fleas (as well as ticks and lice), it also helps remove flea eggs!
The process of washing your dog with it is similar to how you would use a regular dog shampoo, but there's one important additional step!
Tip: BEFORE you get your dog wet, apply a ring of the All-Natural Flea Shampoo around your dog's neck.
You'll want to do that because when you start to wet your dog's coat, fleas are going to come crawling out of your dog's fur and run to your dog's head.
That's where they'll try to hide in your pup's ears and nose! The flea shampoo around the neck acts as a barrier for the fleas and keeps them from hiding out.
Once you've applied the flea shampoo ring to your dog's neck, wet the coat, apply a generous amount and massage it in. Don't be grossed out when you see fleas crawling out of your dog's fur!
That's exactly what we want to happen, and rest assured that they won't survive the shampoo treatment.
Leave it on for a few minutes, then rinse it off until the water runs clear. If the flea infestation is bad, repeat!
You can use this particular anti flea shampoo every couple weeks to keep the fleas from returning or as needed during peak flea season.
Here in the UK, that's spring and summer time when temperatures are between 20° and 30° C.
What to Do If Your Dog Tries to Bite You When You Give Them A Bath
Some dogs are anxious during bath time to the point where they'll (try to) bite.
To prevent your dog from doing that, we have three suggestions for you.
1. Distract them with a so-called Lick Pad.
That's a dog food puzzle used for mental enrichment purposes. It comes in different forms and has suction cups on the back that stick to bathtub enclosures like tile and glass.
You can smear peanut butter on it and have your pup lick it off while you give them a bath. Other soft food options are yogurt, pumpkin puree, canned dog food, baby food or ground raw dog food.
2. Have someone else hold your dog while you wash them.
If the dog food puzzle doesn't work, put a collar and lead on your pup and find someone to help you! They can hold your dog on their lead while you give your dog a bath.
Since the collar and lead will inevitably get wet, look for a waterproof option. They're made with materials that are very easy to clean and also don't retain any odours.
3. If all else fails, muzzle your dog.
If your dog still tries to bite you or the person who's helping you, muzzle your dog. You can find a large variety of muzzles online or in pet retail stores.
A breathable basket muzzle is very effective because it allows your dog to breathe but makes it impossible for them to open their mouth.
Tip: Practice putting the muzzle on and taking it back off BEFORE you put it on them during bath time. That way, they'll already be used to it and it won't cause them even more stress.
To do this, show them the open basket muzzle and place their favourite treats inside. Let them eat the treats out of the muzzle without putting the muzzle on them.
Repeat that several times.
Next, place the muzzle on their face without closing it. Take it back off after just a second and praise them along with giving them a treat or toy reward.
Repeat a few times, then put it on and close it.
Don't forget to praise, praise, praise!
Why Do Dogs Get Crazy After A Bath?
Most dogs who just got a bath will want to race around and do dog zoomies in the backyard or the living room!
There's two reasons for this:
- They want to stretch their legs and do anything but stay in the tub.
- They are trying to get rid of that "clean" smell.
Of course we as humans love how good our dogs look and smell after a bath, but let's be real and accept that dogs prefer other smells, right?!
That's why you'll see them rolling around on the floor and/or rubbing themselves against your couch or other furniture.
Tip: It's best to avoid letting your dogs do their dog crazies outside in the yard right after bath time. That's because there's a good chance they'll roll around in whatever they can find and will be ready for another bath in no time!
However! Most dogs will have to either pee and/or poop right after bath time, so it's best to leash them and take them outside for a quick potty break right after their bath.
How to Give Your Dog A Bath: Bottom Line
Most dogs aren't crazy about bath time which is why it's a lot easier to take care of this chore when your pup's energy is low.
For example, after a long walk or a good game of fetch. If your dog still puts up a fight, have someone help you by holding them and/or distract them with a Lick Pad.
Know that you can give your healthy dog a bath once to twice a month with specific dog products. For example, with our all-natural line of Dog Shampoos!
That's important because human shampoos, conditioners and body washes are too harsh for dog skin and will dry it out.
That said, of course you can wash your dog as necessary. For example, if they had fun playing in the mud or if they're bothered by fleas and itchy skin, but try not to give your pup daily baths unless recommended for a specific health reason by your veterinarian.
It's easiest to give your dog a bath if you brush them before and after, especially if they have a thick undercoat or long fur.
Use towels to line the tub and bathroom floor and of course to dry your dog off after the bath. You may also need a blow dryer to fully dry them. This depends on your dog's coat and their fur length.
We hope that you learned a thing or two! If you know someone who may find this article helpful as well, please share it with them!
The Honest DogCo Resources
- 6 in 1 All Natural Dog Shampoo
- All Natural Dog Shampoo – Baby Powder Scent
- All Natural Itchy Dog Shampoo and Conditioner (dog shampoo for itchy skin)
- All Natural Flea Shampoo for Dogs
- How to Remove Skunk Smell from Your Dog
- Can You Wash a Dog with Human Shampoo?
- Is Your Dog Shampoo Safe?
About The Healthy Dog Co
The Healthy Dog Co’s mission is to create products that dog and cat owners can trust with the health of their pets by only producing products with healthy, safe, all natural ingredients.
At The Healthy Dog Co, it’s all about giving your pet a healthy and happy life with All Natural Health, Happiness and Care Products.
Because Your Pet Deserves Better!