How To Wash Your Dog
Bathing your dog can be a wonderful bonding experience but it’s also a very practical necessity for our sometimes smelly, four-legged family members.
Dogs don’t mind being dirty and stinky — in fact, they like it quite a bit — and many aren’t afraid to put up a fight if they think that it will help them get out of bath time. And while watching a favorite actor run after a dog covered in soap suds may seem hilarious, it’s a lot less fun when you have to do it — or your dog is wrestling and clawing to get as far away as possible from you.
Here are our tips for how to wash a dog that will make it a much more friendly experience for both you and your pup.
How often should I bathe my dog?
While dogs don’t require daily scrub downs like we do, they do need regular baths — but just how regular depends on several factors, such as the dog’s environment and type of coat.
Here are some general guidelines:
Bathing once a month works for most dogs.
Many short-haired breeds with smooth coats, such as Beagles and Weimaraners, do just fine with less frequent baths. Short-coated Basenjis are fastidious in their personal hygiene and rarely need a bath.
Breeds with water-repellent coats, such as Golden Retrievers and Great Pyrenees, should be bathed less often so as to preserve their natural oils.
Dogs with thick, double coats — such as Samoyeds, Malamutes, and other Northern breeds — do best with fewer baths and a lot of extra brushing (which gets rid of loose, dead hair and helps distribute natural oils that keep your dog’s skin and coat healthy).
How to wash your dog?
Protect the ears
You want to be very careful not to get water into your dog’s ears during the bath. Not only is it uncomfortable for them, it’s something that can actually cause health problems. If your dog will let you do it, stuff cotton balls into his ears; if not, simply do your best to avoid spraying water into them. To clean your dog’s ears, Cesar recommends trying Vetericyn Ear Rinse.
If you have a puppy, start bathing her as soon as possible. She’ll be less opposed to the experience when she’s younger because she won’t have any negative associations toward it. By getting her used to it early on, you will encounter less trouble later.
Use the right shampoo
One way to make a bath even more unpleasant for your dog is to pick a shampoo that causes them to scratch or dries their skin out. Ideally you want a mild soap that cleans and removes unwanted odors without stripping away important oils. The best way to ensure you’re getting the right shampoo for your dog? Talk to your vet.
Shampoos and conditioners
Dogs have skin that is half the thickness of human skin, is very sensitive and has a different pH. You can’t always assume that human products are okay for your pet. Use a good quality and gentle pet shampoo and if your dog is prone to dry skin, greasy skin, frequent skin infections or is itchy, ask your Vet which shampoo is best.
You can also view our guide to dog shampoos for a more detailed look at what shampoos will suit your dog. Conditioners are not really necessary, unless your dog has particularly dry hair. Most pet conditioners are leave-in and can be applied as the coat is drying, or even without washing first.
The step-by-step washing process
- Brush your pet to remove any tangles or debris from the coat.
- Get your pet wet, avoiding the head.
- Apply a 20c piece amount of shampoo, lathering up all over.
- Massage your pet to distribute the shampoo.
- Leave on for the recommended length of time.
- Meanwhile use a face washer or sponge to wipe down the face (no need for shampoo).
- Rinse, making sure all the residue has disappeared.
- Stand back and allow your pet to shake.
- Towel dry.
- Use a hairdryer on a low heat with a brush or take your pet for a walk in the sun to dry.
- Check your pet’s ears and remove any cotton wool. If your dog needs an ear clean, check our ear cleaning guide for detailed instructions.
Where to bath your pet?
Smaller dogs can be easily bathed in the laundry sink, a baby bath, the normal bath tub or even the bottom of the shower. Using a non-slip mat can make your pet more secure on the slippery surface. An inside bath allows you to ensure the water is warm, but not warmer than your skin. If it is a nice sunny day, you can wash your pet outdoors and a nice game of fetch or a walk afterwards is a great way to stop them rolling in the garden and will speed up the drying process.
The other way to go is to simply towel her off. If you’re going to do this, use one of the more absorbent dog towels that can be found at most pet stores. And, of course, be prepared for the inevitable “shake” as your dog dries herself off. By making pleasant associations with bath time and remaining calm and assertive while you’re washing your dog, you can make it another opportunity for bonding and to share affection. Just be patient.