How to Bathe Your Dog

In this article, we’ll discuss the steps on how to bathe your dog, including how often to bathe a dog, and tips to make it way easier for you, and for your dog!

How Often to Bathe a Dog

Most veterinarians and dog groomers recommend bathing your dog every four to six weeks. I have found, with the many dogs I’ve had since childhood, that it truly depends on the dog. If a dog has long fur, for example, brushing once a week or so helps to prevent the need for a bath any more often than every four to six weeks. A dog with super short fur, though, may need to be bathed more often. They just get greasy and stinky, and I think because their fur is so short, their skin is more exposed – to sun, wind, dirt.

I bathed my miniature dachshund Taz fairly often because her skin would get dry, and quite dirty since she was so low to the ground. She had seasonal allergies as well, so I assume pollens and such were sticking to her skin and fur all summer.  She was so clean and soft after her baths, and I can’t help but think she liked the feeling. She certainly seemed happy once she was out of the tub, being snuggled in a big bath towel.

How to Bathe Your DogWhat’s the Best Dog Shampoo?

I used to use baby shampoo on Taz, but I’ve since found out that even though it’s gentle, it’s better to use an oatmeal-based shampoo for dogs, which is great for dry skin and very soothing for rashes or irritated skin (ask your vet first if your dog has a serious skin condition).  You can see a nice selection on Amazon (paid link) here.

how to bathe your dogHow to Bathe the Dog – Step By Step

1.  Brush your dog’s fur.

2.  Gather your supplies: towels, shampoo, baby oil, cotton balls, non-slip matt, and treats!

3.  Place a non-slip matt (or towel if you do not have a matt) on the bottom of the sink or tub. If the dog has sure footing rather than standing on a slippery surface, he will be WAY less nervous during the bath.  You can find a selection of no-slip bath matts here.

4.  Clean your dog’s ears.

5.  Fill the tub or sink with lukewarm water. Place the dog gently in the tub. If he won’t get in, GET IN YOURSELF.  I mean it.  If you get in and coax him in with encouragement, affection (and treats if necessary!), he will eventually let his desire to be with you overcome his fear.  You won’t have to do this every time.  Eventually (possibly even the very next bath), he will get in on his own. Trust me on this.  I’ve been in the shower with many a German Shepherd…LOL!

6.  Wet the dog’s fur. Some people prefer to use a sprayer, but I personally think a large cup is much less threatening.  Wet the dog’s fur thoroughly, and remember to speak softly to the dog while you’re doing this. Give constant reassurance and praise. Make this a pleasant experience for the dog – soothing, warm, kind, loving.

7.  Apply shampoo and lather up the dog. I like to make this fun for the dog by using a silly voice and saying things like, “scrubby scrubby scrubby…” Sounds silly, I know, but honestly, if the dog thinks YOU’RE having a good time, he’ll be more inclined to view this as fun. Say his name, tell him he’s a good boy, sing songs. Do the scrubbing quickly – you don’t want to drag it out any longer than you have to as the dog is likely nervous. Wash the dog’s body – don’t forget under the tail (gross but necessary) and the belly.

Finish with the head – you can do most of the neck and outside of the ears pretty easily – then I like to get a washcloth, dip it in the soapy water, and use that to wash the dog’s face. Remember to gently wash around the dog’s eyes where gunk sometimes hardens. I rinse the dog’s face with the washcloth rather than dumping water over the dog’s head. Use the cup to rinse their body thoroughly, again, using a soothing voice.

8.  Carefully remove the dog from the tub.  I always have either a towel or bathmat to place the dog on once I get them out of the tub. Don’t put your dog in danger of slipping and getting injured. Once out of the tub, towel dry the dog as much as you can before he wiggles away – giving enthusiastic encouragement and praise the whole time. Again, make it fun! Then, as the dog likely takes off like a shot to get the heck away from you and the tub, cheer! Clap! Say, “Good dog!” and give him a treat immediately. He’ll remember this – and each time he gets a bath he’ll look forward to the after-tub celebration.

How to Bathe Your DogFlea Baths for Dogs – Don’t!

When you’re asking yourself which flea shampoo to use, how often to give a flea bath, wondering whether flea baths work – honestly, please just don’t give flea baths!  I have owned more than a dozen dogs and several cats over the years and I have never seen flea baths, sprays or flea collars actually work to prevent fleas or get rid of fleas.

In my opinion, the only way to get rid of fleas is using a product like Advantage (found here on Amazon (paid link). For more information about getting rid of fleas, click here.

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