How to bathe a reluctant dog efficiently

If your dog doesn't like water, read this for tips on how to bathe your pet without fuss or muss.


Dogs seem to love water or hate it. If your pet falls into the latter group, here are a few helpful hints that may make bath time easier for all.

1. Plan ahead.

  Start with a freestanding tub, unless you plan to use a stationary tub in the basement or your bathtub. If your dog is large, you may want to set aside a special place for bath time to save splashing and scratching on interior walls. The garage, shed, basement, or breezeway provides shelter and limited space for an excitable pet to make a wet mess.

2. Choose dog-friendly cleaning agents.

You will need dog shampoo, though a human product works well, too. A citrus scent helps to repel fleas as does Avon's Skin-so-soft product. Try to avoid commercial flea preparations as they can be toxic if mishandled. Don't use anything that is heavily perfumed. Most dogs dislike artificial floral aromas and will roll in the grass or dirt to remove the smell from its coat.  

3. Purchase and organize supplies so you have everything handy when you need it.

In addition to the tub and soap, get a de-tangling comb to suit your dog's coat and a canine toothbrush for teeth care, although toothpaste isn't needed. Use moist cotton swabs or cotton balls to gently clean debris from inside your pet's ears and nostrils, or under his nails or tail. Also have on hand a washcloth, soft-bristled body brush, and two towels; a large one to drape over your pet after leaving the tub and another to spot-dry individual body areas like the face, ears, head, neck, torso, legs, and tail. Keep supplies clean by washing them after each use.

4. Lay out everything you will need in the bathing area.

You may want to put Fido on a leash, as dogs have an uncanny way of knowing that something is up and may hide under the sofa. Remove doggie clothing and tags, if worn, leaving the collar for something to hold on to unless you can manage without it.

5. Offer your pet a treat and get started.

Associating bath time with fun or flavor can help to coax a reluctant pet into the water. Lather the washcloth and quickly wipe your dog's face with special attention to the eyes and ears. Next, lather the body brush and gently stroke against the lay of the fur to loosen old hair and dust. Soap your pet well, moving the brush briskly over legs, chest, and tail. Use the washcloth to wipe away the loosened debris, dunking the cloth repeatedly into the water and squeezing excess over the dog's body. Look for fleas on the skin and remove these manually, drowning them in the water.

6. Rinse.

When you are satisfied that your pet is clean, use clear water to rinse out residual soap and debris until the coat looks smooth and soap-free.

7. Dry.

Remove your pet from the water and drape with the large towel. Use the cotton swabs to gently clear oral cavities. With the smaller towel, wipe each body part, resisting your dog's efforts to shake off excess moisture. You may want to use a blow dryer if it doesn't excite your pet. Use the comb to smooth fur and remove tangles.

8. Release!

Give your dog some space to run around as he continues to dry, preferably indoors, as he will want to shake off extra water periodically. Take him outdoors if this poses a problem for your home.  

Voila! You have a clean, odor-free pet to enjoy for the time being. Depending on how active your dog is, you may want to schedule a monthly or bi-monthly bath. Plan to wash his bedding and furniture that he uses to get rid of pet smells. Both your dog and you can now relax until the next time.