Tips for bathing your dog at home

Tips for bathing your dog at home

Just like humans, dogs need regular baths. To help you make bath time an enjoyable activity for you and your pup, this article will explain:

  • Why it’s important to bathe your dog
  • How often you should bathe your dog
  • What you will need to bathe your dog at home
  • Frequently asked questions about bathing your dog

Why it’s important to bathe your dog

Regularly bathing your dog will help remove excess hair, dirt and keep their coat looking clean and smelling fresh. Bathing your dog also gives you a chance to examine their body, spot lumps bumps and take action on any potential skin issues that could be irritating your dog.

How often you should bathe your dog

Dogs don’t need baths as often as people, and the frequency by which you should bathe your dog is dependent on your dog’s lifestyle and the environment they live in. For example, if your dog spends their time on manicured lawns and trotting down quiet sidewalks, they will probably do fine with a bath every one to three months. On the other hand, if your dog loves to swim, race through the woods, or roll around in mud, they’ll need more frequent bathing. Another factor to consider is your dog’s breed. Dogs with double coats (e.g. Chow Chows), wrinkly skin (e.g. Shar Peis), or oily coats (e.g. Basset Hounds) may need to be washed more often.

To develop the right bathing schedule for your dog, talk to your veterinarian.

What you will need to bathe your dog at home

In order to bathe your dog at home you’ll need to:

  • Determine where you’ll bathe your dog. Depending on the size of your dog and home set-up, you may choose to bathe them in: the kitchen sink (good for small dogs), the bathtub or shower, outside in the backyard or at a local dog bathing station.
  • Pick up supplies. This includes a brush, cotton balls, dog shampoo and conditioner, towels, treats and/or a lick mat covered in your dog’s favorite spreadable treat like peanut butter.
  • Have a plan for securing your dog. Unless you’re 100% confident that your dog will sit calmly throughout the bath, you’ll want to secure them throughout the bath using a leash or other tether.

Tips for bathing your dog at home

Once you’ve determined where you’re going to bathe your dog, it’s time to get started with the bath. Follow these steps when bathing your dog:

  • Brush your dog. This will help detangle their hair and remove any mats before the bath begins.
  • Set-up a lick mat. If you’re bathing your dog inside, secure a lick mat to the side of the tub or shower and cover it with peanut butter or cream cheese. This will help your dog enjoy their bath and associate baths with good things, like peanut butter!
  • Secure your dog. Using a leash or other tether, secure your dog. This will ensure they don’t run away when you’re trying to give them a bath! If you’re bathing your dog in a tub or shower, make sure they still have access to the lick mat after securing your dog.
  • Put cotton balls in their ears. This will help keep your dog’s ears dry and prevent water from getting in and potentially causing an ear infection.
  • Wet your dog and lather up the shampoo. Once your dog is nice and wet, apply the shampoo and begin scrubbing. Start at their hind legs and tail, scrub their chest, back, legs, genital area and work your way to your dog’s head. Be careful not to get shampoo in your dog’s eyes.
  • Rinse thoroughly. It is really important to get all the shampoo off of your dog, so that they don’t develop skin problems. To do this, rinse them thoroughly by starting with their head and ending with their paws.
  • Apply conditioner. Once all of the shampoo has been thoroughly rinsed off, apply conditioner. This will help detangle your dog’s hair. Similar to shampoo, start applying conditioner at their hind legs and work your way to your dog’s head. Be careful not to get conditioner in your dog’s eyes.
  • Rinse thoroughly (AGAIN). Start rinsing at your dog’s head and work down to their paws. Be very careful to get all of the conditioner out of your dog’s coat. Consider a double rinse to be extra certain that all conditioner has been rinsed off.
  • Remove the cotton balls. If the cotton balls haven’t fallen out, remove them from your dog’s ears.
  • Dry your dog. Start by toweling off your dog and then use a blow dryer. Be sure to keep the blow dryer on cool so that you don’t overheat your dog.
  • Give your dog treats! By this point your dog has probably licked all of the delicious goodness off their lick mat. Give them a few additional treats to make sure they continue to develop awesome feelings about bath time!

Frequently asked questions about bathing your dog

Is it better to bathe or shower a dog?

Either option works. Depending on the size of your dog and home set-up, you may choose to bathe them in: the kitchen sink (good for small dogs), the bathtub or shower, outside in the backyard or at a local dog bathing station.

How do I dry my dog after a bath?

Start by toweling off your dog and then use a blow dryer to get rid of excess water and hair. Be sure to keep the blow dryer on cool so that you don’t overheat your dog.

How do I know when my dog needs a bath?

Generally speaking, dogs need a bath every one to three months. This timeline can be longer or shorter depending on your dog’s breed and lifestyle. For example, if your dog has a double coat, wrinkly or oily skin, or frequently races around in the woods, they may need more frequent bathing. To develop the right bathing schedule for your dog, talk to your veterinarian.