How to Bathe A Dog Properly 

4 min read
Jan 11, 2022

Knowing when and how to bathe your pup is an essential part of being a responsible dog owner. Giving your pup baths regularly will keep your dog’s fur from becoming tangled and matted. And, of course, baths help keep your pup feeling soft, silky, and clean!  

In this article, we’ll cover how often you should bathe your pup and offer some helpful tips for bathing your dog at home.  Remember that giving your dog a bath is just one important part of dog grooming.

How Often Should you Bathe your Dog? 

The optimal frequency for bathing your dog will depend on his lifestyle, but generally speaking, most dogs do well with monthly baths. 

However, breeds with high maintenance coats may need bathing as often as once a week to keep their fluffy locks in top shape. At the same time, some dogs can go multiple months without needing a bath. Consult with your veterinarian to find out what is best for your pup. 

Remember, bathing your dog too frequently can be detrimental to your pup. Your dog’s fur is coated with natural oils which help keep his skin and hair healthy. Shampooing him too often can interfere with these oils and cause skin irritation and itching, especially if your dog already has sensitive skin.   

Ultimately, you should use your own discretion to determine when your pup is due for a bath. Unless his coat is dirty, matted, or smelly there’s probably no need to bother. Still not sure on when to bathe your pup? Consult your vet to see what is best for your pup.  

How to Bathe Your Dog 

When it does come time to bathe your dog, the process is pretty straight-forward. If your pup is calm and cooperative, bath time will be a breeze, even at home. However, if he is scared or happens to dislike water, bathing him at home may be a challenge.  

Bathing your dog at home is easiest if you have a bathtub with a handheld shower extension. If your dog is small enough you might consider bathing him in your kitchen or bathroom sink. Just make sure you are careful to prevent him from leaping or slipping off of the counter, which could cause injuries.  

If the weather is warm, bathing your dog outside in the yard may be a tempting option. Though, it’s best to use warm water, rather than cold water straight from the hose.

Wherever you choose to bathe him, bath time will be much easier if you have all of your pup’s bathing accessories ready to go ahead of time.  

Here’s what You’ll Need:

  • Leash - A leash will help prevent your sopping wet pup from wriggling free and galavanting through the house before you have a chance to towel him off. 
  • Dog-friendly shampoo - It’s best to use a pet-friendly shampoo on your dog to avoid any skin irritation. Human shampoos aren’t typically as mild as pet-friendly products. Speak to experts at your local pet store for recommendations.  
  • Towel - You’ll definitely want to dry your dog off before letting him out of the bathtub. If your pup is a large breed or has long hair you may need multiple towels to soak up the moisture. 
  • A scoop - Unless you have a handheld shower handle, a scoop is helpful for pouring water over your dog during bath time.   

Step 1: Find the optimal water temperature

Before putting your pup under the spout it’s important to adjust the water temperature. If the water is too hot it could hurt your dog, and if it is too cold it could make him hate bath time. Aim for lukewarm water.  

Step 2: Wet your dog's fur thoroughly

Now that you’ve found the right water temperature it’s time to get your dog wet with the lukewarm water. Begin pouring water over your dog starting just behind his ears and working your way toward his tail. If he has thick fur you may have to massage the water into his coat to ensure he is thoroughly soaked. Try to avoid getting your dog’s face and ears wet if possible.  

Step 3: Shampoo your pup

Once your dog’s fur is wet turn the water off while you shampoo him. Don’t forget to shampoo his tail and legs. Now that the water has stopped running your pup might be tempted to shake the moisture out of his fur. Try to prevent him from doing this. Not only will it get you and your bathroom soaked, but he may slip in the wet bathtub which will only make the experience more stressful for him.  

Step 4: Rinse thoroughly

After you’ve shampooed your dog begin the rinsing process. Work your way from his head to his tail, massaging the shampoo out of his fur as you go. It’s really important to rinse your dog thoroughly as any leftover shampoo may cause itchiness or skin irritation. Double and triple check your dog’s chest and armpits to ensure there are no suds lingering in those harder to reach areas.  

Step 5: Towel dry

When you’re satisfied that you’ve washed away all the shampoo, turn off the water and towel dry your dog. He will likely shake a few times before and after you dry him. This is when the leash comes in handy, as he will likely want to save some of those shakes for once he is free of the confines of your bathroom. Towel him gently from head to tail, soaking up as much water as possible.  

Unless your dog is already accustomed to it, bath time is likely to be stressful for him. Making the experience as positive as possible will help your dog learn that baths aren’t a punishment.   

Be sure to comfort your dog throughout the process. Praise him in a calm, gentle voice. Pet him and offer him treats as you go to help him relax. Once the bath is over, give additional treats as a reward for his cooperation.   

Many dogs learn to tolerate or even enjoy baths because they appreciate the body massage and praise that is involved.  

If your pup is particularly fearful of bathtime, or you happen to find the process extremely stressful, taking your dog to a groomer may be a better option for both of you. Meanwhile, If you're worried about your dog's health, then taking out an active dog insurance policy may be able to help. Get your free quote below.

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Nothing in this article should be construed as financial, legal or veterinary advice. Please consult your own advisors for questions relating to your and your pet’s specific circumstances. 

1 Pet Insurance offered by MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC is underwritten by Independence American Insurance Company (“IAIC”), a Delaware insurance company, headquartered at 485 Madison Avenue, NY, NY 10022, and Metropolitan General Insurance Company (“MetGen”), a Rhode Island insurance company, headquartered at 700 Quaker Lane, Warwick, RI 02886, in those states where MetGen’s policies are available. MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC is the policy administrator authorized by IAIC and MetGen to offer and administer pet insurance policies. MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC was previously known as PetFirst Healthcare, LLC and in some states continues to operate under that name pending approval of its application for a name change. The entity may operate under an alternate, assumed, and/or fictitious name in certain jurisdictions as approved, including MetLife Pet Insurance Services LLC (New York and Minnesota), MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions Agency LLC (Illinois), and such other alternate, assumed, or fictitious names approved by certain jurisdictions.