Canine Cleanliness: How to Give Your Dog a Bath

Dogs get dirty too
Mild, dog-specific shampoo is best.

When Fido begins to smell foul, it’s time for a bath. Don’t feel overwhelmed by this simple task; with a few supplies and a little canine know-how, you will be well prepared to douse your dog. Soon your pooch will be comely and clean, with a minimum of fuss for either of you.

Gather Supplies

First, you will need some mild shampoo. Special dog shampoo is the best because it will not dry out your dog’s skin, but baby shampoo will work in a pinch. You will also need one or more towels, depending on the size and furriness of your dog. Towels are one thing you do not want to share with your dog, unless you like getting out of the shower and drying yourself off, only to find your body covered with a fine layer of dog hair. Better to set aside the old towels in a special place for Fido’s personal use. You will also need a dog brush.


Decide where you will bathe your dog. In warm weather outside is best, if you have a hose with a gentle spray nozzle and access to warm water. If you must bathe your dog indoors, the bathtub or shower can be used for a big dog, and the kitchen or utility sink for a small dog. You will get wet no matter where you choose, so dress accordingly. Place a small towel or mat in the tub to keep the dog from slipping.

Brush Thoroughly

Before the bath begins, it is very important to brush the dog’s coat thoroughly. Remove any knots, tangles, or mats. It will be much easier to do this when the fur is dry. If it is not done, the dirt will stay trapped in the matted fur.

Bathing Beagle
Lather up your dog and try not to get water or suds in his eyes and ears.

Wash Away

While you are washing your pet, be careful not to get water in his ears or shampoo in his eyes. Try to keep him calm and speak gently to him since bath time can be stressful to both dog and human. After shampooing the dog completely, you must be very sure to rinse his coat thoroughly. Take particular care to check the areas where his legs join his body, as this is a place that is often overlooked. Be certain that you cannot feel any shampoo left and that the rinse water runs clear. After that, rinse once more with fresh water, just to be sure. Shampoo left in can cause dry, itchy skin, and can even lead to hot spots.

Last Step

Finally, wrap the dog in a towel and gently squeeze the water out of his coat, paying special attention to his tail and feet. You can now use a hair dryer to quickly dry your dog’s coat, but keep it on a low heat setting and don’t put it too near his skin. After all this, you may want to put the dog in his crate for a while, with a towel spread on the bottom. He will probably be ready for a nap, and you will be ready to sit down and have a cold one.

Even if your dog never comes to love bath time, you can be an accomplished dog bather with a little practice. Follow the steps above, bathe your dog no more than once a week, and you will enjoy the benefits of owning a pet that is clean, fresh, and huggable.


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