How to Bathe A Dog: Step-by-Step Guide For All Circumstances

Do you have a dog that HATES taking a bath and would rather roll around in the mud? This leaves them dirty and leaves mud paw prints all over our floor and furniture.

As pet parents, we must know that bathing our dogs and keeping them clean can help them have healthier skin and coat. It also helps remove ticks and other parasites that might harm our dogs.

If you want to know how to bathe your dog properly, stick around as we dive deeper into the matter.


Why Do You Need To Bathe Your Dog?

Have you ever seen a dog with matted fur and is infected with parasites?

Bathing your dog will prevent all of that!

Other than making your dog smell good, it also maintains your dog’s health. Bathing helps condition your dog’s skin to prevent it from matting and excessive shedding. Many dog shampoos also help remove ticks that are infecting your dog.

Bathing your dog would also keep their skin healthy and strong by relieving them of any skin rashes and itchy allergic reactions they might have. 

How Often Should Dogs Be Bathed?

Studies such as Bathing Frequency for Indoor Domestic Dogs show that bathing a dog should be bathed once every 3 to 4 days. Another study has shown that a dog should be bathed at least twice a week. Generally, a dog should be bathed when it needs to.

Bathing can depend on a dog breed’s fur length. Dog breeds with longer coats require more attention and bathing. Dog breeds with shorter coats require less attention but should still be bathed when needed.

It can also depend on the lifestyle of your dog. Many dog breeds require a lot of exercise or just want to play outdoors. If so, mud, dirt, and leaves might get stuck in their coat. They need more frequent baths to prevent any skin irritations.

You wouldn’t want to frequently bathe your dog more than it needs to, because it would remove their natural body oil. Doing so would make their skin dry and more prone to irritations.

How To Bathe A Dog At Home

dog taking a bath

It is important that your dog wouldn’t associate bath time as a negative experience and would continue to hate bathing every time. Maintaining a stress-free environment as your dog bathes would make them comfortable.

You would also need to be prepared with the necessary tools so that you won’t have to keep on standing and walking, giving your wet dog an opportunity to escape.

What You’ll Need

These are the supplies you’ll need if you want to bathe your dog at home:

  • Fur brush
  • Towels
  • Dog Shampoo
  • Dog conditioner
  • Dog Toothbrush
  • Dog Toothpaste
  • Clean Cloth
  • Saline solution
  • Clippers
  • Cotton balls
  • Scissors
  • Hair Clippers
  • Styptic powder
  • Treats (positive reinforcement throughout the process)

1. Brush Your Dog First

You would want to untangle any matted fur your dog has before they get in the water to make the process easier for you and less painful for your dog. Water makes the matter fur harder to untangle.

Brushing your dog with the best dog brush is essential to also remove larger dirt or grass that is stuck in their fur. 

2. Clean Your Dog’s Ears, Eyes, And Nose

Clean your dog’s ears using a dry cloth and wipe off dirt and wax. You can also put cotton in their ears to protect their ear canal. You should never use Q tips as they might damage your dog’s eardrums, some owners might reach too deep when using Q tips and end up damaging the dog’s eardrums. It can be risky for new owners to clean dog ears without the proper knowledge, so it is important to consult with a professional beforehand.

3. Brush Your Dog’s Teeth

Dogs have a very “doggy” breath, so brushing your dog’s teeth frequently will help remove that and remove tartar build up. Brushing their teeth will also give you an opportunity to examine the inside of their mouth and see if there are any twigs or sharp objects stuck in their gums. If so, contact your vet immediately as it can discomfort your dog.

4. Trim Your Dog’s Coat

Dogs with long coats require a lot of trimming to prevent matting. Dirt and grass can also get stuck in their fur. If your dog has long fur, you should start the trim using hair clippers. If your dog has short fur, you should start with the curved scissors and trim along the shape of your dog’s face and body, and along the direction of their hair growth.

Start trimming from your dog’s face, ears, and neck, down to their body and belly, and finally their legs, paws, and tail. 

5. Clean Your Dog’s Paws

Some dogs don’t like having their nails cut, which makes it a little tricky. Cutting their nails can be difficult for new dog owners, so it is important to remember not to cut their nails too much or else it might bleed. Dog nails have blood vessels at the base, which is what you should look out for. You can easily locate the blood vessels if your dog’s nail is white, for dogs with black nails, it is harder to locate but it is generally a black spot near the base.

If you accidentally cut the nail too much and it starts to bleed, wipe it off with cotton and apply styptic powder. 

Cleaning your dog’s paws will also prevent them from being dry and prone to cuts. You can start by cleaning the paw pads and between their toes. You can also apply paw moisturizer if you have them, to keep your dog’s paws smooth and clean.

6. Bath Time!

If your dog is shedding a lot, it is important to bathe them at most once a week to remove dead hair. Bathe them with water and apply the prescribed amount of conditioner and shampoo your dog. Doggos Daily offers you information on what the best dog shampoo is out there!

Once they are done bathing, vigorously wipe them with a clean and dry towel. You can also use a blow dryer if you want or if your dog has long fur. Different dogs have different needs when it comes to bathing, so you must find out how to bathe a dog depending on the breed you have.

How To Bathe A Dog In The Winter

Wintertime can be a little too cold for your dog to have a wet bath, but it is still important to keep them clean and fresh throughout the long winter months. If your dog loves to play in the snow, grime and dirt might get stuck between their mat and the snow.

Dogs are also at risk of hypothermia during the winter season, so you shouldn’t have a wet dog during cold climates.

What You’ll Need

Here are a few things you would need to bathe your dog in the winter:

  1. Warm Towels
  2. Dog shampoo and conditioner
  3. Waterless or dry dog shampoo
  4. Conditioning Spray
  5. Blow Dryer
  6. Treats (as positive reinforcement throughout the process)

1. Warm Up The Room

Before you bathe your dog, you must turn your thermostat up a little to compensate for the cold winter weather. You wouldn’t want your dog trembling and freezing throughout the process.

2. Use Warm Water

If you do use water to bathe your dog, remember to warm up the water first and dry your pup with a warm towel after the bathing process.

3. Use Waterless Shampoo And Conditioning Spray

If you decide not to use water for bathing them to prevent hypothermia, you can use waterless shampoo and conditioning spray, which as their name suggests, doesn’t need water.

4. Dry Them Up

Wipe your dog using dry towels to help them warm quickly after a bath. You can also use a blow dryer to speed up drying your dog.

How To Bathe A Dog Without Water

Even though dogs only need to have a bath once a month, some dogs still don’t like the water and the whole bathing process turns out as a wet and chaotic experience for both you and your dog.

Fortunately, you can clean your dog without water using only a few canine bathing products.

What You’ll Need

  • Dry Shampoo
  • Conditioning Spray
  • Cleansing or Grooming wipes
  • Towels
  • Treats (as positive reinforcement throughout the process

1. Using Cleansing Wipes

Cleansing and grooming wipes are alcohol-free, which makes them safe for dogs. Use these wipes as preliminary cleaning to clean their ears, nose, paws, and in between their toes.

2. Use Dry Shampoo And Conditioning Spray

As their name suggests, these doggy products do not need shampoo and are enough to clean your dog from grime and dirt. Use only the prescribed amounts when using these products.

3. Dry Them Up 

Dry your dogs up using a clean and damp towel to remove the bathing products and excess grime and dirt.

How To Bathe A Dog With Fleas?

If your dog is infested with fleas, it is important that you tend to them to prevent any health complications it comes with. Fortunately, flea infestation is common on almost every dog owner, and doggy products for this situation are available for you.

What You’ll Need

Here are a few things you’ll need for a doggy flea bath:

  • Towels
  • Flea Shampoo
  • Gloves
  • Leash
  • Treats (as positive reinforcement throughout the process)

1. Secure Your Dog With A Leash

If you manually remove fleas off your dog before the bath, it can be a painful experience for them and they might get squirm and flinch a lot and they would probably try to run away. So securing them with a leash along with petting and reassurance will help ease the process.

2. Read The Flea Shampoo Instructions

Some flea shampoos may be required to leave the lather on for an amount of time. Use the recommended amount of flea shampoo and remember to use warm water when you wash your dog.

How To Bathe A Dog That Hates Water

A lot of dogs get squirmy and afraid when it comes to bathing. This can be a difficult experience for you, knowing that it is essential to bathe your dog for their health. If you are unsure how to bathe your dog who is afraid of water, here are a few tips you would want to know.

What You’ll Need

  • Lick Mat
  • Dog Shampoo and Conditioner
  • Treats (as positive reinforcement throughout the process
  • Brush
  • Towels

1. Brush Your Dog

It is important that you calm your dog before you bathe them. Brushing their fur along with patting can help ease them to be comfortable and feel safe. Brushing your dog’s coat is also necessary before bathing them to untangle any matted fur and make the bathing experience less painful.

2. Distract Them With A Lick Mat

Nothing will catch a dog’s attention more than food. Slather peanut butter or whatever treat your dog loves on the wall will keep them busy enough for you to bathe them. If you don’t want food on your wall, you can always give them treats throughout the bathing process.

How To Bathe A Dog That Bites

Some dogs hate bathing so much that they might try to bite you. This can be very dangerous for you. The best thing you can do is teach your dog to trust you and ease them into the process. However, extreme cases are when your dog persistently bites you and if it is too much for you, you can always seek help from professional groomers.

What You’ll Need

Here are a few tools you might need if your dog bites when you bathe them:

  • Brush
  • Chew toy
  • Dog Shampoo and conditioner
  • Muzzle
  • Leash
  • Towels
  • Treats (As positive reinforcement throughout the process)

1. Create A Stress-Free Environment

The reason why a dog bites when bathing is because it is stressed and afraid. Brushing their fur before the bath will not only untangle any matted fur, but it will also calm your dog. Petting them throughout the process will also make them feel safe. Reward them with treats every time they are not being aggressive.

2. Give Them A Distraction

Rubber duckies and chew toys will give a dog something to focus on, which will give you enough opportunity to wash them while they are busy chewing the rubber duck.

3. Be Gentle With The Water

A shower-spray nozzle will help you bathe your dog one body part at a time. This will prevent your dog from feeling overwhelmed with the water in the tub. 

4. For Extreme Cases, Put A Muzzle On Your Dog

It may seem cruel, but if your dog is still very aggressive before or during a bath, making them wear a muzzle will protect you from their bites. Securing them with a leash will also prevent them from going crazy and make our bathroom a wet mess.

How To Bathe A Dog In A Tub

Bathing your dog in a tub is one of the common ways to bathe a dog. Some dogs love it, some don’t. Either way, it is important to maintain a stress-free environment when bathing your dog in a tub.

What You’ll Need

Here a few things that you’ll need to bathe your dog in a tub:

  • Adhesive non-slip mat
  • Rubber toy
  • Towels
  • Dog shampoo and condition
  • Treats (as positive reinforcement throughout the process)

1. Use Adhesive Non-slip Mats

Some dogs might find bathing in a tub stressful because of how slippery it is. Applying non-slip mats will prevent your dog from slipping in the tub.

2. Ease Them Into The Bathing Process

Dogs might not like the sound of running water, so filling the tub with warm water and preparing the bathing products you’ll need beforehand might help calm your dog. If they are still stressed, keep treats in handy.

3. Use Rubber Toys As A Distraction

Dogs in a tub full of water might stress them out or they might constantly try to jump out. To prevent that, you can put rubber toys on the water to keep your dog busy and distracted.

4. Dry Them Up

Being submerged in water might make a wet mess in your bathroom post-bath. Having extra, dry towels will help them dry up faster.

How To Bathe A Dog In Thick Fur

Bathing a dog with thick fur can be tricky because it might require a specific kind of dog shampoo and conditioner. Their thick fur can also be hard for water to reach their skin, so you must wash your dog appropriately. Dogs that are double-coated breeds require a lot of brushing and regular baths.

What You’ll Need

Here are a few things you might need when bathing a dog with thick fur:

  • Large Towels
  • Brush
  • Dog shampoo and conditioner
  • Blow dryer
  • Treats (as positive reinforcement throughout the process)

1. Brush Your Dog Thoroughly

Dogs with thick fur need thorough brushing to make sure that their thick coats are matt and dirt-free. Even if they won’t be taking a bath, brushing their coat frequently will keep their coat healthy and it would be easier to clean your dog come bath time.

2. Rinse Your Dog Thoroughly

Because of their thick fur, it may be hard for water to reach their skin. So rinsing them appropriately will do the trick. This will also prevent your dog from having dry skin.

Dogs with thick fur may need specific kinds of shampoo and conditioner. Make sure to contact your vet so you may know what bathing products to use for dogs.

How To Bathe A Puppy For The First Time

Puppies can be very sensitive, so you should be gentle in bathing them. A puppy’s first bathing experience will also solidify how they would react to bathing as they grow old. So it is important that you make your puppy see bathing as a positive and fun experience. Since puppies don’t take up a lot of space, you can bathe them in the kitchen sink or in a small basin.

What You’ll Need

Here are a few things you’ll need when bathing your puppy for the first time:

  • Cup
  • Towels
  • Brush
  • Dog shampoo and conditioner
  • Cotton balls
  • Treats (As positive reinforcement throughout the process)

1. Brush Your Pup

Brushing your puppy will not only untangle matted fur, but it will also help them trust you and calm them down since bathing would be a new experience for them.

2. Use A Cup

Puppies shouldn’t be bathed using a dipper or in a tub full of water because they might be overwhelmed or might drown. Much like babies, using cups can help you minimize the water you would use and be gentle at the same time. You should also avoid water getting into their ears and eyes since they are very sensitive at a young age.

3. Keep Treats Handy

Giving them treats throughout the bathing will help make bathing a positive experience for your puppy.

4. Dry Them Up

Puppies get cold easily, so once they are finished with their bath, make sure to have a few dry and warm towels ready to help them faster. Using a blow dryer will also speed up the drying process.

How To Bathe A Dog Outside

Some dogs enjoy bathing outside because they have more space to move around compared to being bathed in a tub or in the shower. Bathing your dog outside under warm and sunny weather would be a fun experience for you and your dog as they can bathe and play with you at the same time.

What You’ll Need

Here are a few things you would need to bathe your dog outside:

  • Bathing products
  • Leash
  • Brush
  • Baby pool or a large basin
  • Hose or water source
  • Lots of towels
  • Treats (as positive reinforcement throughout the process)

1. Prepare The Tools You Need Outside

Before bringing your dog outside, you must prepare the brush, dog shampoo and conditioner, and towels.

2. Leash Them If Necessary

Your dog might get a little too energetic and roll around in the dirt if they’re wet which would make the bathing process longer than you wanted. You can tie the other end of the leash to a pole or a tree to prevent you from constantly chasing your dog around your backyard.

3. Prepare A Doggy Pool

Some dogs might enjoy taking a dip in a baby pool which can help you bathe them easier. A baby pool is also a great alternative if your dog doesn’t like being sprayed with a hose.

4. Lower The Hose Pressure

If your dog does enjoy the hose, make sure to lower the pressure so you can prevent your dog from skin bruises because of high-pressure hoses.

5. Dry Them Up

Since you and your dog are outside, you wouldn’t want them to run into your house with dirty and wet paws. So after their bath, towel dry them so they won’t make a wet mess in your house. You can wrap them with a towel to protect them from the outdoor cold and pick them up so that dirt won’t stick to their wet paws.

How To Bathe A Dog With Stitches

If your dog has fresh stitches, it is recommended that you won’t bathe them for 1-2 weeks, this will give the stitches some time to heal. Bathing them while they are still fresh might remove the stitches and wound your dog again. That would be an unpleasant experience for your dog. 

In short terms, you shouldn’t bathe a dog with stitches, otherwise it would open up the wound and repeat the vet process all over again.

How To Bathe A Dog With Ringworm

Dogs with ringworm have to bathe more often than they normally would because it is a part of their healing medication. Bathing will help kill any parasites in your dog, so dogs with ringworms are recommended to be bathed every one to two days until they are free of parasites.

What You’ll Need

Here are a few things you might need to bathe your dog with ringworm:

  • Gloves
  • Dog antifungal products

1. Protect Yourself

Ringworms are foul creatures and might infect you and your home. Using protective gloves when handling dogs with ringworms and washing your hands after will help through the process. If you have a weak immune system, then it is not advised for you to handle dogs with ringworms.

2. Use The Prescribed Antifungal Products

If your dog has ringworm, you should always consult with your vet for instructions on what you should and what bathing products you must use.

What’s Next: What To Do After Bathing Your Dog?

After bathing your dog, you should wrap them up with a towel when you take them out of the tub or carry them inside your house. This will protect them from the cold and at the same time protect your home from a wet mess. You can afterward use a blow dryer to speed up the drying process.

The most important thing to do after their bath is to reward them with treats! By doing so, they will see bathing as a positive experience because they get to have food once they’re done.

When To Help From A Groomer Regarding Bathing

There are situations where pet grooming can be too much for us, like when they try to bite you, or they have contagious parasites, or if you want to save yourself from the hassle. No matter the reason, it is always important to seek help from a professional regarding grooming because we aren’t experts on what our dog needs for their specific breed, fur coating, or treatment.

FAQ’s About How To Bathe A Dog

Best Time Of Day To Bathe A Dog

You can bathe your dog any time of the day, the important thing is to dry them up afterward and keep them warm. If you bathe a dog at night, it is important to adjust your room temperature so that your dog won’t get cold during the bath.

Can I Bathe My Dog At Night

If you plan to bathe your dog at night, make sure that the room and the water that you use are warm. Dogs easily get cold, so keeping them warm through the process is important. However, you shouldn’t bathe your dog at night especially during the winter, because it is when temperatures are lowest and could lead your dog to hypothermia.

Can I Bathe My Dog Everyday?

It is recommended to bathe your dog once a month. If you bathe your dog every day, you would be stripping your dog of it’s natural body oils and it’s body wouldn’t have enough time to produce more. If your dog has constant dry skin, it can be more prone to skin rashes and irritations.


If you are a new pet parent, you must be knowledgeable of when and how to bathe your dog. Knowing so would help you maintain your dog’s health, maintain a healthy and shiny coat. It is also important that your dog associates bathing as a fun and positive experience, to relieve them from fear and anxiety every time you say the word “bath”.
Learn more with whatever dog tips you might need at Doggos Daily and provide you answers to dog-related questions such as “what can dogs eat?”. Want to find out? Visit Doggos Daily.

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by Nicole Barnett

Nicole has been a freelance writer for over 10 years. She has three dogs, two of which she rescued from the streets. When not furiously typing away at her computer, you’d either find her chasing after her adorable dogs and kids, or volunteering at a local shelter.

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