Guide to Washing a Dog 

As a pet owner, washing a dog is a duty that you may need to perform to ensure that your dog is kept healthy and clean. To make sure that you are meeting your pet’s needs, questions like ‘how often should you wash your dog?’, or ‘what is the best dog bath?’, may come to mind. To help you successfully wash dogs and complete the dog grooming tasks your pet needs, we have provided some information in this guide to washing a dog.

How to Wash a Dog

To help you structure your own dog bathing routine, here is an easy guide to the steps involved in washing a dog:
1.    Be prepared with treats and calm verbal praise to ensure a positive experience for your dog or puppy.
2.    Brush any mats or tangles out of their hair before washing your dog.
3.    Wet the dog’s hair all the way to the skin, working down from the neck to the tail. Be sure to work in one direction to avoid further matting or clumping of the hair. Check the temperature of the water before wetting your dog to make sure that it is warm but not too hot.
4.    Once wet, shampoo your dog’s body and gently massage the shampoo all over from the neck to the tail. Once your dog is comfortable, be sure to wash their underside as well. Take care to avoid getting shampoo in the eyes, ears, nose and mouth.
5.    Next, gently rinse the shampoo, making sure there is none left lingering on your dog’s coat. 
6.    After washing your dog, you need to help dry them off, using a towel to gently pat them dry.
7.    Make sure you have been using the treats and positive reinforcement throughout the bathing process to ensure that your dog has had a pleasant experience that they will be happy to repeat later. 
By following these steps, you can create the basis for your own dog bathing routine, adding any further steps you need to ensure that you can effectively clean and care for your pet.

Dog Bath Products

To establish a successful routine for washing a dog, you will need to decide which products you require. You will need a shampoo suitable for dogs. If your dog has a skin condition your vet may recommend a medicated dog wash or oatmeal dog wash. Other dog bath products that are available include a special dog bath tub, a portable dog bath, a dog wash hose, or even dog bathrobes.

Puppy Bath

You may be wondering ‘when can puppies have their first bath?’ or ‘how to wash a puppy for the first time’. You can bathe a puppy if they became dirty or soiled but you must take care as young puppies are less able to regulate their temperature than older dogs and so are at risk of hypothermia if they become cold and wet. When you do begin bathing your puppy, do so in stages. Their first bath may be them simply standing in the water and taking treats from you. It is important that the puppy develops a strong positive association with the bathing experience which means you may need to introduce them to it slowly (and then build up the level of washing over time).

Post-Bath Dog Care

After washing a dog, they will typically shake off excess water from their coat, however they will most likely require assistance to make sure they are completely dry after a bath. Knowing how to dry a dog after a bath will help to save you time and make sure that your dog is happy and dry as quickly as possible. You can use large absorbent towels or products like a dog bathrobe to remove most of the water, at which point most dogs can be left to air dry naturally. Try to avoid using hair dryers, as most dogs will find it uncomfortable having hot air blown at them. However, if you must use them, then make sure to always avoid the head area and keep the dryer a safe distance from the dog. You should also test in advance that they are comfortable with the sound. Ensure that the temperature of the hair dryer is comfortable on your own skin before using it on your dog.
If your dog smells even after a bath, there may be a medical reason and you should check with your vet.

FAQ’s for Washing a Dog

  • How Often Should You Wash Your Dog?

    Knowing how often washing a dog is required depends on a variety of factors including their lifestyle and the length of their coat. For example, washing a dog with short hair can be as simple as giving them a rubdown with a damp cloth to remove dirt, while dogs with very active lifestyles may require more regular bathing as they accumulate more dirt on their coat. A standard rule of thumb is that washing a dog is generally required when there is either visible dirt or unpleasant odours.

  • Can I Wash My Dog with Human Shampoo?

    When washing a dog it is not recommended that you use human shampoo as these products are more likely to be harsh on your dog’s skin and may strip much-needed oils from their coats. It is best to use a shampoo product designed for dogs.

  • Can I Bathe My Puppy?

    Washing a dog when they are very young is generally not necessary unless they become dirty or soiled. As young puppies are more at risk of hypothermia if they become wet and cold, you can try washing them with a damp, warm cloth.

  • Can I Use Dish Soap to Bathe my Dog?

    Washing a dog with dish soap is not recommended as it could irritate your dog’s skin. It could also strip away healthy oils in your dog’s skin and coat. It is best to use a shampoo product designed for dogs.

  • How to Bathe a Dog that Hates Water

    Washing a dog who hates the water can be a stressful, challenging experience. There are some simple changes that you can make to your bathing routine to help. The main rule is to go at your dog’s pace. This may mean going very slowly and starting with only a tiny amount of bathing. It is better to start slow and build up the level of bathing over time rather than overwhelming your dog which could lead to trauma. Create positive associations with the bath by playing games, offering treats and giving your dog plenty of time to explore the space and get used to it. Be sure to create a welcoming environment with warm water, gentle shampoo and provide something else for your dog to focus on.  



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