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How to Bathe Your Dog


Article by Kate Baxendale

Photography by Stock Images

No one likes a dirty, smelly dog. If your dog is in need of a bath but the groomer isn't available, you can bathe him yourself. Not only does a clean dog make him more pleasant to be around, but regular baths are also essential to maintaining a healthy coat and skin. In the article Dogs 101: Everything You Should Know About Bathing Your Dog from, learn how to properly give your dog a bath at home.

RELATED: How to Groom Your Own Dog

How Often Should I Bathe My Dog?

That depends on the dog's type of coat and its environment. Bathing once a month worst for most dogs, but breeds with oily coats, like Basset Hounds, may need a bath as frequently as once a week. Many short-haired breeds with smooth coats, like beagles and Weimaraners, won't need to be bathed as often. Long-haired dogs like golden retrievers and Great Pyrenees have water-repellent coats and should be bathed less often to preserve their natural oils.

Bath frequency also depends on the dog's environment. If your dog likes swimming, playing in mud or lives in a rural area, he or she may need to bathe more often than a dog with little access to the elements.

The best way to decide if your dog needs a bath? The old sniff test. If your dog is smelling less than fresh, it's time for a bath.

Where Should I Wash My Dog?

Smaller breeds can easily be bathed in the bathtub or even the kitchen sink. Larger breeds may make more of a mess in the bathroom, so taking them outside and using the hose may be the best option. Just be sure that the weather is warm enough; dogs don't like to be cold and wet anymore than we do.

How to Bathe Your Dog

  • Brush your dog first to get any matted fur out of his coat.
  • Use lukewarm water because dog's skin is more sensitive than ours. Don't use water any warmer than you'd use for a human baby.
  • Talk to your dog in a soothing and reassuring tone. Bath time makes most dogs nervous, so it's best to coax them into the tub and to be gentle. (No dragging them by their collar to the bathroom, no matter how much they protest.)
  • Use dog shampoo. It's much more gentle than human shampoo, which can dry out their skin and cause dandruff. Get your dog's fur wet, then work the shampoo into a gentle lather and massage it into the dog's fur. Be careful around the dog's eyes and ears.
  • Rinse thoroughly. Any residual shampoo can irritate the dog's skin.
  • Your dog will naturally want to shake the excess water off his body once the shampoo is rinsed out. If you're inside, try closing the shower curtain to avoid soaking the bathroom (and you!). Gently towel him off, then let your dog air-dry the rest of the way. Most dogs don't like the sound or feel of a blow dryer, and it can be too hot for them.
  • Reward your dog with lots of verbal praise and some treats!