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Dog Baths: How to Bathe a Dog

Not only do proper grooming and dog baths keep your pooch pretty, they’re also good for their health. But bathing a dog doesn’t have to be an epic nightmare. Here is how to bathe a dog!

What You Need for a Dog Bath

  • Proper Shampoo. Human shampoo just isn’t going to cut it. Even baby shampoo, while gentler, isn’t the right pH for your dog. Ask your veterinarian which shampoo is best for your pooch. If your dog has skin issues, they might recommend a specific formula.
  • Grooming brush. Frequently it’s a lot easier to bath your dog and really work in the shampoo if they’ve been brushed. This helps loosen knots and reduce the amount of fur that might clot your drain.
  • Towels. These are obvious. No one wants a wet dog shaking all over their home! We recommend using at least three towels at once. We’ll explain why below.
  • Drain blocker. A cheap drain blocker, or even just a piece of steel wool, will help keep your drain from getting blocked with all that fur.
  • Bath mat or extra towel. This will keep your dog from slipping when you finally get them out of the tub.
  • Blowdryer. This is optional, but helps speed the drying process.
  • Leash and treats. These might be necessary for leading your dog to the bathing area.

How to Bathe a Dog at Home

  1. Figure out the best place for bathing a dog at your home. A driveway keeps you from soaking your house, but your dog might just get dirty again promptly after their bath. Sinks are good for puppies and small dogs and tubs are obviously better suited for larger pooches.
  2. If your dog hates the sound of rushing water, fill the tub before they get in. This helps reduce their stress. And less dog stress = less human stress.
  3. Get your dog in the bathing area with as little drama as possible. Don’t use an angry voice if they hate the tub. That’ll just escalate their fear. Use treats and a leash if necessary.
  4. Get your dog completely wet. Soak your dog down to the skin. The water should be warm, not hot or cold. Test it with your hand before the dog bath.
  5. Apply shampoo. Start shampooing at your dogs neck and work your way down to the tail and feet. This way gravity works in your favor. Leave a barrier of suds at the base of the skull to discourage any parasites from migrating.
  6. Empty your dog’s anal glands. Most dogs need this done regularly. Gross, but true.
  7. Dry your dog. Throw one towel over your dog’s back like a horse blanket. Then use a second one to dry their face, ears and feet. They can use a third one, or bath mat, to keep from slipping.
  8. Blowdry your dog. This step is optional, but is great if you want to minimize dripping. Make sure you use the cool setting so you don’t skorch your pup’s skin.