How To Wash a Dog

Dogs tend to get messy faster than any other pet pals. Making a pooch take bath is not as joyful or fun filled as depicted in movies or television series as most of the dogs avoid confronting water. This article will provide tips for positive reinforcement of dog bathing but will also provide insights into the whole dog bathing process.

Tips for making a pet bath without hassles

The section beneath will help first-time owners as well as pet parents that have pets that do not like to be scrubbed or washed.

1.  Positive association 

Experts recommend linking the bath or anything new that is introduced to the itinerary of the pet to something positive. like offering treats, toys, and affection to get the pooch to do the activity.


  • Begin by getting the dog used to spending time in an empty tub while being offered with treats or toys and post this work the way up to adding warm water.
  • Repeat the actions until the pets seem comfortable with the activity. For example, if the dog has a bathtub or a specific area where its washed, get them to come to the designated area by offering treats each time they obey and train until they come even without a treat.

2. Cover the ears

Be cautious not to get water into the dog’s ears during the bath. Not only is it uncomfortable for the pet pal it’s also something that is seen to cause health hazards.

Note:  Stuff cotton balls into the dog’s ears if it allows one to do or avoid spraying water into them.

3. Start training the pet at a young age

Training the pet from a young age to bathing will remove this fear to water if present.

4. Right shampoo usage

One of the best ways to make bathing even more pleasant for the dog is to pick up the right shampoo that will not only minimize scratching but will also not cause skin dryness. Consulting a vet or proper market research based on the dog breed will help in effectively zeroing on the right shampoo.

5. Eyes and mouth protection

Experts recommend washing the dog from the neck down. Always clean the pets face with a wet damp cloth.

6. Dry the dog by the right process

 Most dogs shake themselves post a bath to dry up. But for quick and effective drying one can make use of a blow dryer or wipe the pooch with a clean dry towel.

Note: Avoid burning the dog’s skin while blow drying it.

How often should a pet pal be washed or bathed?

While most of the dogs don’t require daily scrub downs as we do, they do need regular baths that depend on several factors which include the dog’s environment, hair length, allergies, and skin condition. A veterinarian is a right person to seek advice on how frequently one´s pet pal needs to be bathed.

Some of the general guidelines one can follow include:

– Once a month bathing for dogs with low activity indoor pets.

– Dogs like Basset Hounds have an oily skin coat such breeds are seen to require bathing as frequently as once a week.

– Short-haired breeds with smooth coats such as Beagles and Weimaraner’s need less frequent baths. 

– Personal hygiene conscious breeds like short-coated Basenjis rarely need a bath.

– Breeds such as Golden Retrievers and Great Pyrenees have a water-repellent coat and are recommended to be bathed less often to preserve their natural oils.

– Dogs such as Samoyeds, Malamutes, and other Northern breeds possess thick double coats. Hence fewer baths and a lot of extra brushing are enough to get rid of the loose, dead hair and are also seen to aid in the equal distribution of natural oils that in turn maintain a glowing and healthy skin.

How to bath a puppy or dog?

The section beneath explains the process of washing a dog in-depth. The steps involved in the bathing process include bath preparation and actual bathing process.

Dog bath preparation

1. Location determination

Choose a location for bathing the four-legged pal. Very small dogs can be bathed in a laundry or kitchen sink. One can bathe larger dogs in showers or bathtubs or even in the exteriors if the temperatures are not very low.


  • Bathtub or sink bottom tend to get slippery when wet. Hence expert´s advice placing a towel on the bottom to not only calm the dog but also provides it traction. Usage of a rubber bathmat or nonslip adhesive pads is also recommended.
  • It is predominantly recommended to choose a confined location as in many instances the dog may get anxious or upset during the bathing session and will try to frisk out. Shut the bathroom door during a bathtub use or bathe the pet in a fenced area outdoors.

2. Coat brushing

Brushing the dog’s fur thoroughly before giving a bath is a prerequisite especially in thick, shaggy, or double-coated pets. Eliminate tangles or matted areas too if any.


  •  Dogs infested with ticks needs to be taken to a vet or one can remove ticks manually.
  • Rub petroleum jelly, liquid dish soap, or vegetable oil for sticky substances like paint, tar, pine sap stuck in the fur and let it sit for 24 hours.

3. Nail trimming

Trim the dog’s nails before giving it a bath. This will help it from accidentally scratching us if it gets agitated or fussy.

Note: Avoid cutting the dog’s nails too short as it can cause bleeding and infection. Many groomers and veterinarians can help trim nails for new per parents for a small fee.

4. Gather all the bath supplies

Prior to the bathing procedure gather all the bathing needs like towels, cotton balls, dog shampoo, treats, a washcloth or sponge and a hose or detachable showerhead or a bucket or other vessel for rinsing. Uncap the shampoo and other bottles. A helper needs to be called to keep the dog steady while washing it in nervous dog breeds.

5. Place cotton balls into the dog’s ears 

Dogs develop ear infections easily hence experts recommend placing cotton balls in its ears to keep the ear canals dry.

Note: Refrain from pushing the cotton balls too far down. Just secure them enough so they don’t fall out in the bath.

6. Remove the dog’s collar

To clean the neck area, one will need to remove the dog’s collar. Use a nylon collar in case one requires a collar to hold it dog while bathing. Leather collars are seen to shrink when wet leading to choking the dog.

Dog bathing procedure

This section will provide insights into the pet bathing steps that can be followed by any beginner. The following steps need to be followed

1. Set the temperature of the water bath or tub

Dogs are sensitive to hot water just like us hence one needs to check the water temperature before bathing the dog. The water should be warm but not hot. Coldwater can give the dog a chill that is especially dangerous for tiny cute puppies.

Tip: While bathing a dog in a sink or tub, it is predominantly advised to fill the sink or tub with warm water till the dog’s knees.

2. Wet the dog’s body with water 

 Wet the dog from the neck towards the back. Make sure the dog’s coat is fully saturated with water (this seems to take some time for dogs with a thick coat). 


  • One can also spray the dog with the aid of a hose or detachable showerhead.
  • Set the water pressure to medium pressure as high pressure is seen to startle the pooch.
  • Avoid pouring water to the head of the dog.
  • Special attachments like the snap on sprayer attachments are available these can be fitted on to the showerhead or faucet. 

3. Shampoo application 

For dog’s with very thick or long, its recommended to pre-mix some shampoo with water in a small cup as it is seen to help to get an even lather throughout the pooch’s coat. For dogs with short coats, one needs to just pour a strip of shampoo down the body. Massage the shampoo into the dog’s coat. 


  • One need not use a washcloth or sponge to apply the shampoo.  Experts recommend using bare hands to lather up the shampoo. as this the only way one can check the doctor’s body for any unusual signs, such as bumps or inflammation.
  • Refrain from applying shampoo to the dog’s head or face. Use a damp washcloth to gently wipe away any dirt if present on the dog´s face.
  • For long-coated dogs it is advised to massage the shampoo in the direction of the dog’s hair growth. This is seen to help prevent tangling.

4. Dog body washing

Massage the shampoo onto the whole body avoiding the head. Lather up the dog’s armpits, stomach, tail, groin area, and paws. Rest the shampoo on the dog as prescribed on the shampoo bottle for effective outcomes.

5. Dogface cleaning 

Use a damp washcloth to wipe the dirt away if any present on the dog´s face. Refrain from cleaning the inner ears with a washcloth as this can get the ears wet and promote infections.


  • A skin infection is seen to manifest dogs on their chins that look like small pimples or red bumps, medically termed as furunculosis. Pet parents need to consult their vet for cleansing the chin infection if present in dogs. One’s vet may suggest a disinfecting shampoo or ointment as a treatment.
  • If the dog has folds on its facial skin, do not forget to clean the in-between the folds.

6. Rinse the dog fur until the water from it runs clear 

Rinse out all the shampoo residues from the dog’s coat. This process is time consuming especially if the dog’s fur is thick or double-coated. Improper rinsing off the dog’s coat can lead to skin allergies and pH imbalance. 


  • Remember not to refrain to pour water over the dog’s head and face.
  •  While using a pitcher or bucket to rinse the coat, pour water so that it flows down the dogs back, not towards its face. 
  • Avoid spraying the dog’s face if one is using a hose or sprayer.

7. Dry the dog

For a quick-drying process, experts recommend using a highly absorbent microfiber towel however, even a regular bath towel will work.  Lay the towel over the pet pals back and pat dry. Avoid rubbing the towel over the pooch as this is seen to cause matting in long-haired breeds. The dog’s instinct will be to shake itself dry, so one should be prepared for some splattering.

Tip: Keep the heat setting on low or cool to avoid burning the dog´s fur while using a hairdryer. Refrain pointing a hairdryer at the dog’s face.

8. Comb out the dog’s coat 

One needs to comb out the hair for dogs with very long or shaggy fur while it’s wet to avoid tangling of the hair. One can also use a detangling mist to speed up this process.

9. Treat the dog

For positive associations and reinforcement with bath time, experts recommend treating the pet every time post a bath. Praise it for being a good dog. This way, the dog will learn that bath time is not a time to dread but a fun time.

Tip: If one’s dog is particularly nervous during baths; it is advised to give it a little treat during the bathing procedure.

How to wash a dog’s face and ears?

Every pooch needs a grooming post every wash. This section will brief the grooming techniques that need to be followed.

Dog ear cleaning process

Remove the cotton balls from the dog’s ears. The ear canals need to be cleaned if it has excessive earwax to combat irritation or infection. A specially formulated ear rinse such as Vetericyn Ear Rinse will be handy. Other DIY products for ear cleaning include witch hazel, hydrogen peroxide, or a mixture of equal parts organic apple cider vinegar and purified water.


  • Apply some portion of the ear cleaning agent on a cotton ball [do not use cotton swabs as it could damage the dog’s eardrums if inserted too deep into the ear].
  •  Rub the cotton ball around the interior of the ear canal. Check the cotton ball for any waxy residue till a clean cotton ball is obtained.
  • A soaked cotton ball needs to be used to clean the dog’s outer ears or the large flappy bits termed as the pinna.


  • Never pour or spray the solution directly into the dog’s ears. As not all dogs like it and will resist getting the ears cleaned.
  • A vet or a professional groomer is the right person to clean a dog’s ears with hairs growing in the ear canal.

Tear build up cleansing

Brachycephalic breeds such as many terriers and chihuahuas have a condition called epiphora, wherein the tears are seen to overflow onto the face. One needs to wash out this extra tear buildup to combat irritation or bacterial infection. Many pet outlets sell easy to use tear stain cleansers and pre-saturated pads for tear build-up cleaning. Just make sure that the product opted is marked hypoallergenic and that it doesn’t contain the antibiotic tylosin tartrate which is unapproved for use on dogs or cats. Small breeds like poodles and Shih Tzus have a condition called distichiasis, wherein its eyelashes grow inward rather than outward. This is seen to cause eye irritations and excessive tearing. In such cases seek immediate medical help for the wellbeing of the pooch.


  • Colloidal silver that is generally available in spray or liquid drops form is commonly recommended to safely use around the eyes. 
  • Dabbing a bit of coconut oil beneath the tear-stained eyes are seen to combat the skin from various irritations.
  • Refrain from using hydrogen peroxide, apple cider vinegar, makeup remover, human eye drops, or milk of magnesia as dog eye cleansers.

Final thoughts

One can easily wash and clean a dog at home with the insights provided in this article. All one needs is to invest in the right goods, have enormous space and time to complete this tedious task. Abnormalities developed post washing like skin allergies and irritations need to be brought to the vet’s attention. Accidental water pouring on the face portion needs quick response and observation. Happy washing and parenting!!! 

Frequently asked questions

Q. Is cleaning the anal sacs mandatory?

A. Avoid cleaning the anal sacs present on the back end of male dogs, at the edge of his anus. Some dog groomers offer to express or squeeze the anal sacs during the cleaning and washing process. Consult a vet if the sacs of the pooch can be cleaned, if the vet approves get it cleaned by professionals or clean it yourself if one knows to safely perform it.

Q. How to give a bath to a pet pal that hates it?

A. Help the dog to learn to associate baths with positive experiences with a few simple tricks mentioned in the article above.

Q. How to can one bathe a dog without a dog shampoo?

A. Experts generally recommend the use of dog shampoos during the bath time. But in unavoidable cases, mild baby shampoos can be used to clean dogs with no skin irritations (usage should be minimal not frequently) or one can also browse the internet for DIY dog shampoos that can be easily prepared with the ingredients available at home.

Q. How can a puppy be given a bath?

A. The bathing process for a puppy and an adult dog is similar. The steps explained in the article above needs to be followed. Puppy shampoos available at the pet stores can be used for effective outcomes.

Q. How to wash a dog bed with stuffing?

A. The following steps need to be followed while cleaning a dog bed with stuffing:

# Get rid of the loose dirt particles by vacuuming it several times.

# Use a spot removal to remove nasty stains like urine or poop odor. Rinse the bed with clean water several times post this procedure.

# Wash the bed with hot water thoroughly in a washing machine or manually. 

Note: Never forget to read the manufacturers washing instructions before washing the bed.

Q. How to wash a dog without a bathtub?

A. Experts recommend bathing the dogs in confined closed spaces like bathrooms or fenced open areas as anxious dogs try to escape bathing many times.

Q. How to bathe a dog at home?

A. Bathing a dog is not very difficult. The steps mentioned in the article above is effective enough to bathe a dog at home. Happy bathing!!!

Q. How to wash a dog without water?

A. Quick washing of dogs without water is possible using bath dog wipes available in the pet stores to temporarily eliminate the stink and bacteria.  This is a handy option especially in the car for those dirtier post-dog park moments. One can also make use of a dog brush to get the grime out or can also try using a pet odor neutralizer to protect the house from stinking in cases of unexpected guest arrivals or lack of time to wash the dog.

Q. How often should one bathe their dog or puppy?

The following factors determine a dog or pup’s bath routine:

#Hair length

#Activity level

#Allergies and skin conditions

Generally, it is advised to bathe the dog at least once every three months. If a dog develops a stink this remarks its bath time. A vet is the right person to seek advice for a bath routine of different dog breeds.

Q. How to build make a puppy or dog trust during the washing process?

A.  Play with the puppy or dog while giving a bath, put waterproof toys in with it and give some of its favorite treats.

Q. How should the fecal matter under the tail needs to be washed?

A. Take damp clean cloth wetted in hot water and use it to wipe the dog’s fecal matter.

Q. Can a dog be bathed immediately post a meal?

The best time to bathe a dog is before food, as during the bathes it will wriggle and jump. If its stomach is full there is a greater chance of the stomach to twist that is seen to lead to bloating in many. If in case one wants to wash a dog post meal it is advised to wash post an hour or so.  


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Yeshwanthi Kamalraj
Yeshwanthi Kamalraj is a freelance copy editor, Pet sitter, and content writer who mainly focuses on scientific journals and health-related web pages. Before becoming a freelance content writer Yeshwanthi worked for Cenveo publishers as document analyst for various science journals published by Taylor and Francis Journals and later continued as a freelance copyeditor for the same publishers. Post marriage in 2009 Yeshwanthi developed a keen interest in pets after her husband and she brought a labrador puppy home. This interest helped her to explore a new niche of the pet sitting world whose journey is still on. Yeshwanthi is a dog lover who in her freetime enjoys listening to music, cooking, and meeting new people.


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