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How to Bathe a Dog

Breeding Business is passionate about all sorts of domesticated pets. They have written dozens of articles across the web.
Published on
Saturday 5 November 2016
Last updated on
Tuesday 9 May 2023
how to bathe a dog
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Several aspects must be considered when wondering how to bathe a dog or puppy. It’s actually not rocket science and you do want to start this gradually from the very first few months. The more you wait, the more time your dog will need to get used to water, shampoo and the whole washing experience.

Before bathing a puppy, you should know in advance how to care for your dog’s eyes, ears, paws, nails and this includes having a ready-to-use dog first aid kit. Then, understand what are the breed’s specific characteristics such as its coat (thick or thin fur) and its instinctive love for the water.

Bathing a puppy is not difficult, yet the first few attempts won’t be super easy and it’s normal. Especially if you have never done before or do not know how to bathe a puppy from doing it with an older dog of yours. Remember, a puppy must reach an age of more than 12 weeks before he can be bathed for the first time.

Don’t panic! That’s why we want to give some tips and 5 easy ways to make your puppy be calm and happy during bath time, so bathing your puppy won’t be a problem anymore.

How to Bathe a Dog for the First Time?

An introduction is the first step. That is the most important to turn bath time into fun playtime. The end goal is to have a quiet dog while in the water, as well as obedient and ideally, silent.

Where are you going to bathe your puppy? Many dog owners use the sink to facilitate the puppy’s shower or use the bathtub in their bathroom to avoid wet and slippery floors. Wherever you want to bathe your dog, the goal is to make him familiar with the surrounding area, making it as comfortable as possible.

There are dog bathtubs especially designed to be safely used with dogs, including agitated dogs. The most popular dog washing station is called the Booster Bath, but there are so many more options such as portable dog showers.

Make Your Dog Comfortable With Being Wet

If your dog is not used to water and perhaps a little worried around it, start by removing this barrier. Use a tiny bit of water and play in it with your dog’s favorite toy. Reward often, especially during this introductory phase.

Eventually, you’ll reach the level of starting the bath seamlessly and even with a willing dog. However, during this phase, you probably won’t ever actually bathe your dog or puppy. Instead, you’ll play with toys, water and treats in order to make the whole bathtub experience fun!

Once your dog is consistently happy and wagging his tail while in the bathtub, you can start introducing the shampoo. Yep, that’s how to bathe a dog or start bathing it.


Now your dog is completely accustomed to the bathing area, the bathtub and the water, you must prepare the bathing supplies you need to bathe your dog.

Below is a list of the products needed to perform a good dog bath but feel free to adapt to your own needs and requirements. Some in the audience only want natural shampoo like the OxGord Natural, others will only use homemade products, and so on. Feel free to experiment but remember, you’re dealing with a living being so don’t experiment too much and always try on a small patch to monitor reactions before going for the entire body, especially before using on sensitive zones like the anal area.

Shampoo for Puppies

Keep in mind that you should always and only use a shampoo specifically conceived for puppies, and never human shampoo. In addition to the different pH balance between humans and dogs, human shampoo is not appropriate as it does not clean your dog’s skin and coat thoroughly. If your vet recommends it, go for a anti-parasitic or antibacterial shampoo.

Lukewarm Water

Caution, if this is the first time for bathing your dog, you should prepare lukewarm water, which means the temperature should be appropriate, it’s better to touch by your hand to make sure and feel the temperature.

Because this is the first time your puppy will know and feel about water, don’t make him stress right at the first time. Make sure you stop if the dog truly feels distressed. Every first few times are difficult, especially with adult dogs.

Soft Towels

Always use soft and fluffy towels; they are able to absorb the most water, especially when quickly drying your dog’s coat. You don’t want too harsh towels, especially for short-haired coats as you may end up irritating your dog’s coat. You may want to clip your dog’s hair if they are way too long and dirty before the wash.

Rubber Mat

Often forgotten until… your dog starts being agitated and slips continuously. So yes, you absolutely need a rubber mat to prevent your dog from dangerously slipping! If you don’t have any at hand, you can use that quick trick: put a towel in the sink or bathtub to avoid a slippery surface. It will make the dog calmer and eliminate some of his or her panics.

Cotton Balls & Cotton Buds

Do not let water enter his ear or avoid getting shampoo into his eyes. Before bathing your puppy, put some cotton balls in his ears to avoid water getting into his ears. Use a cotton bud to clean your puppy’s ears after he is dried up.

Organize Yourself

When bathing a dog, you must create a comfortable, clean and practical environment. Meaning, things you will use have to be at arm’s length. It sounds very basic when you read it but, trust me, in the action and with an agitated dog, you will struggle to grab your items.

For example, when you bathe your dog and some water gets into an ear, you should be able to grab the towel fast while putting the shampoo away. So make sure your washing station is well thought out.

Bathing the Puppy

Now is the time to actually bathe your dog!

Start slowly and be gentle—do not rush and do not panic even if your dog moves a lot. Stay calm because dogs feel our anxiety, so stay relaxed so your dog feels the same way.

Put the rubber mat or small towel as a gripping ground for your standing dog. Accompany your dog playfully to get closer to the bathtub. Use a toy and treats to make him feel comfortable—ideally, you want to see the tail wagging but that’s unlikely during the first attempts.

Remember, regularly check the temperature of the water and it should be lukewarm before you introduce it to your puppy. Always begin with wetting the feet so that your dog doesn’t feel too surprised. Try to always be playful, distracting him with toys and abundant treats. Slowly and gradually pour the water higher and higher while rewarding with cuddles and treats, until the whole body is wet.

During the first attempts and if your dog overreacts, don’t wet the whole body and go higher at every attempt.

While shampooing your dog, massage her thoroughly and gently. Always finish with the dog’s head, using your hands to moisten it. Wash and then rinse thoroughly until it is fully clean, fragrant and no residual shampoo remains.

Dry Your Puppy Well

The last step is to dry his body with a clean towel that is soft and absorbing most of the water. Do not forget to clean the ears and between the fingers! All these commonly forgotten spots and areas must be checked to keep them clean.


To keep your dog warm, especially in winter or cold season you can use a dog dryer so that your dog stays warm while you dry his fur. However, you must be careful and keep enough distance between the dryer and the dog when you use it, or it can burn your pet’s fur and skin. Most quality dog dryers have the right temperature anyway so your pet stays safe throughout.

The Verdict

How to bathe a dog or a puppy is easy depending on how you handle the situation.

If you can control it properly and stay calm then bathing your dog will be easy and successful. It’s also a wonderful opportunity to bond with your pet and show them they can trust you even in the most unusual situations.

Introducing water to your dog is always the first step and takes several sessions to be completed stress-free. It builds confidence in your dog hence why we always want dog owners to make the bathing time a game.

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