Step-By-Step Instructions for Bathing Your Dog

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You may be keener than your dog when it comes to bath time – especially if they’ve been rolling around in something unpleasant outside. But to make life easier for you both, there are a few things you can do to make the experience as pleasant as possible.

  1. Choose the best location for bathing your dog. A bathtub is usually easiest, but if you have a very small dog, it may be more comfortable for you both to use a bowl or sink. If your dog has long hair, be warned this may clog the drain.
  2. Make sure you comb or brush your dog first. This will help to remove any loose hairs and tangles, which are harder to deal with when wet. Many dogs love being brushed as a treat, which can help to relax them too.
  3. Put on an apron or some old clothes. Chances are, you’re going to get wet!
  4. Place a non-slip mat into the bath (particularly if you have a large dog) to prevent either you or your dog slipping as you lift them in and out.
  5. Run some warm water into the bath or sink. Cold water is no fun for dogs (imagine having a cold bath yourself!) but you don’t want it too hot, either.
  6. The depth of the water depends on the size of your dog, but don’t make it too deep as this could lead to panic. The noise of the tap running may also scare your dog, so pre-fill the bath before you put your dog in.
  7. Place your dog in the bath. They will probably try to get straight out again but persevere.
  8. Use a plastic cup or jug to pour water over your dog. (You can use a shower attachment if your dog isn’t alarmed.) They may try and shake off the water (covering you too).
  9. Rub pet shampoo onto your hands or dissolve it in a little warm water and pour over your dog. Then, using your hands, gently massage the shampoo into your dog’s coat, making sure you’re getting through to the skin. Try to avoid getting any shampoo into their eyes or ears.
  10. Rinse with warm water. Ensure your dog’s coat is completely free of shampoo or they could develop dry skin.
  11. Lift your dog out of the bath – be careful not to let either of you slip – and let them shake off some water. Then rub the dog dry with a nice warm towel (or use a hair dryer if they’re not alarmed by the noise).
  12. Give your dog a treat for being good, then give them a final brush.

Reviewed by Dr. Hein Meyer, DVM, PhD, Dipl-ECVIM-CA and Brana Bonder, B.S, M. S