Everything You Should Know About Bathing Your Dog

Bathing animals needn't be an exhausting activity. Guidelines to make bath time a quick, leisurely process.


We interact with dogs in much the same way we interact with young children— using soft, silly words, constantly praising for good behavior, and trying our best to make them happy, comfortable, and loved. Most dogs love being in the water, but nary a dog likes taking bath. Even so, giving your four-legged best friend a good scrub needn't be an exhausting activity. Below are some easy to follow guidelines to help make bath time a quick, leisurely necessity:

What you'll need

•    Dog shampoo— if your dog has sensitive skin, choose something natural with little or no fragrance. If his skin is dry, choose a moisturizing formula (preferably with aloe). Never use human shampoo, as it can irritate

•    A wide-toothed comb— this will easily work through damp, thick hair or fur

•    A large, plastic cup— this will make rinsing his underbelly is a lot easier

•    Mineral (baby) oil soft wash cloth— a little of this will help loosen and remove tear stains and deposits around his eyes. Baby oil is gentle and does not sting

•    An old, absorbent towel large enough to wrap twice around the dog

•    Cotton swabs

•    Powdered cleanser with bleach

Getting started

Place a bath mat or old towel on the floor in front of the tub (Fido will be soaking wet and wiggly when he comes out). Place all your bath time essentials within arm's reach. Fill the tub about 1/3 the way up, remembering that what may feel delightful to you may scald your dog, so keep the temperature lukewarm. While the water is running, bring your dog into the bathroom and "prep" him— remove his collar, scratch his ears, pet him, etc. You'll want to make him feel safe and relaxed. When the bath is ready, lift your dog and place him in the water— four feet at a time. This way A) he won't have the opportunity to squirm from your arms and hurt himself or B) will be less frightened if his head is near the water. Start by using the plastic cup to soak his body— starting with his head.

When he's nice and warm, wet the washcloth and apply a bit of oil to the tip. Gently wipe his eyes from the inside corner out— using a fingernail to work loose any embedded gunk. Next, squirt shampoo onto the wet washcloth and scrub his coat, paying attention to his paws, neck, and under his tail. Being handled in the water can be stressful for your dog; it's important that you talk to him reassuringly while you're cleaning him. Finally, and very delicately, use a cotton swab to clean the folds of his ears— do not clean the ear canal, as you could damage his eardrum if he moves his head. Rinse him off using plenty of water and tilt his head up when rinsing his head. When he's nice and clean, press some of the water from his coat and tail and carefully lift him from the tub. Place him on the mat and wrap him in the towel. Drying him will be easiest if you keep him covered and pat him through the towel. Clear any wet hairs from his eyes and pick through his coat with the wide-toothed comb. If the weather is cold and he'll tolerate the activity, blow-dry him on low. Let him go and dry off— preferably inside so he doesn't soil himself again.

After the bath

It's essential that you thoroughly clean the tub— bits of dirt, hair/fur, and baby oil could coat the tub, making your bathing experience very unpleasant. Sprinkle a generous amount of cleanser onto the wet porcelain and scrub lightly with a rag. Rinse it out with very hot water and you're all done.