How to Bathe a Dog at Home

This post may contain affiliate links for your convenience. If you make a purchase after clicking a link I will earn a small commission (but it won’t cost you a penny more!) Thanks.

You may love a bath, but your dog probably won’t! So let’s take a look at how to bathe a dog at home, especially if your dog hates baths!

Are you, like me, the owner of a dog who loves water but hates baths? Part of owning a dog is to be responsible and take care of their bathing needs on a regular basis.

Why You Should Bathe Your Dog

Not only is this a step that ensures your pet looks great, but it also helps you ensure that your dog stays in tip top shape as well. Plus, it helps keep your furniture clean(er)!

Regular bathing for your pet serves as the perfect time for you to make certain that their ears, teeth, eyes, and nose are all in good health.  Keep reading to find out more about how to bathe a dog at home.

What Is The Puppy First Bath Age?

Your first dog may be a young puppy. So you may wonder if you can bathe them young. For best results when bathing your pets, you will want to start this process at an early age. When you first bring a puppy into your home you can even pretend to go through the motions of bathing your pet until you feel comfortable with giving him his first bath.

You will want to make sure you give him plenty of time to get used to his new home and you, his new owner, before attempting a bath or grooming. When puppies learn about bathing at a young age, they tend to feel comfortable with the entire process all through their adult life.

When you are considering the age for puppys’ first bath, don’t be tempted to rush it. You do not want your new puppy to develop a fear of baths. That will make your life with your dog all the more difficult. Decide on the age of puppies first bath and then introduce them to the bath gently.

Start without water, but just put your puppy where you think you will bathe them. Then move up to washing just their feet. When they are used to that you can slowly progress. What age for puppies first bath? When you feel comfortable doing it without making your puppy scared of water.

How Often Should You Wash Your Dog?

Most people have a bath or shower at least once a day. This does not have to be the case for your dog, thankfully. As previously mentioned, not only is a bath good for hygiene, it is also the opportunity to examine your dog. If your dog is anything like mine, you normally find a few more scratches from chasing squirrels through the undergrowth!

But how often should you wash your dog is not a straightforward question to answer as it depends on a few factors.

  • Activity and Grime Level. If you have a dog that stays indoors a lot and stays clean when outside then firstly, you are lucky, and secondly they will need less baths! Contrast that with a ‘play in the dirt, roll in anything smelly and swim in the dirtiest water you can find’ type of dog then welcome to my world. And they need frequent baths.
  • Hair Length and Type. Long hair traps dirt, leaves, twigs, and just about everything else. Coarse straight hair gets dirty whilst thinner curly hair is very ‘sticky’.
  • Seasons. A lot will depend upon where you live but here in the UK the summers mean that my dog has less baths. But during the wet and muddy autumn and winter she has baths more frequently. She sometimes needs a bath a couple of times a week, but that is when it is really wet and muddy.

You don’t want to bath your dog too often as soap can rob your dog of their natural oils. However, you don’t want to bathe your dog so infrequently that they smell in between baths. I think once a month is a happy medium, and then additional baths when dirty. Because I have a very active dog, Poppy has a bath a minimum of once a week except for during the summer.

How Do You Bathe a Dog That Hates Water?

How do you bathe a dog that hates baths? There are, however, some dogs that hate to be bathed no matter how you approach this necessary task. I’m lucky enough to have a dog just like this! Plus, she loves to play in the mud. A great combination! So you need to learn how to bathe a dog afraid of water.

If your pet happens to be an especially troublesome bather, you may want to consider leaving this job to a professional groomer. This is often the best option to ensure no accidental harm comes to you or your pet.

However, it is still worth learning how to bathe a dog at home, just in case you really need to bath your dog. In case of a really bad smell emergency.

I found with my dog that it isn’t that she hates baths so much as she hates her head being washed. So I bath just her body about 90% of the time and just do her head when I really need to.

She is now really good at standing still for her bath. As long as you stay away from her head!

If you are worrying about how to bathe an anxious dog try and work out why your dog is anxious. Does she hate a bath or just having something specific washed? Like her face, feet or tail for example. Then you can bathe your dog at home working within your constraints.

If your dog is afraid of a bath, one thing that helps a dog is to have a consistent routine. Bath your dog in the same place. Use the same implements and instruments. Do it at the same time for example straight after they have come in from a walk.

Poppy knows when I run the water with the spray attachment and have dog shampoo in the sink that she is having a bath. She sits and waits for me to pick her up. She may not like a bath but she accepts it as she knows the routine.

How to bathe a dog at home - What Is The Puppy First Bath Age

Supplies for Bathing Your Dog

The skin of most dogs is fairly sensitive, which means it is best not to use any type of harsh shampoos. Depending on your pet, you may even want to use baby shampoo when you are bathing the head, neck, ears, and around the eyes. There are several different varieties of dog shampoo that you can choose from for bathing your pets. If fleas are a problem, try adding a few drops of pine oil to the shampoo, as they work great for killing adult fleas.

You can read about which dog shampoo I use here.

I do use this liquid wash often, especially for just a quick wash. Most days, I tend to wash Poppy’s dirty feet and just put water and shampoo into the sink and this works well. As a bonus, this really does remove the dirt and it makes her coat really soft.

Although Poppy loves the water, in every weather, she hates having a bath.

As it was so warm here in the UK for parts of last summer, I thought she would like a paddling pool that could double as a bath. Silly me.  She didn’t like it and was not fool enough to jump in though she will race through when her ball is thrown into the water.

So I did start using it as a bath (outside) which works quite well and keeps the kitchen dry!  I bought this one which is easy enough to setup and empty.

Prepare Your Dog Before a Bath

Don’t just pick up your dog and throw them in the bath, because that won’t end well for anybody! Try giving your dog a treat or a toy before you show them the bath. Don’t get stressed as you will stress your dog too. Brush or comb their hair first to remove any excess hair. I use this great grooming tool. Brushing your dog not only gets rid of loose hair but also grass and twigs that are stuck in their coat!

How to Bathe a Dog Step by Step

If you want to know how to bathe a dog at home correctly, let’s go through it step by step.

Start With the Head

Firstly, you need to know how to wash a dog’s head. You should always begin with your dog’s head when it’s time for a bath. When you first start out, you may find that you struggle with how to wash a dog’s face. And many dogs don’t like having their face washed.

Rather than pouring shampoo directly onto their coat, it is best to first pour the shampoo into your hands, and then carefully rub it into his coat. This helps to ensure that none of the shampoo accidentally gets into his eyes, which can cause inflammation and be very painful.

Rather than struggling to wash a dog’s face, it can be easier to use a wet flannel. Or even to use a dog grooming wipe. Just make sure you avoid your dog’s eyes with the wipe.

I use Pogi’s Grooming Wipes which are great for a touch up, for dirty faces, for Poppy’s dirty paws and a quick emergency clean before letting her in the car. These wipes are really good and they are available in a travel pack too.

Work Down the Body

After you have finished bathing your dog’s head, then you will want to work from the neck towards the tail of your dog. It is important to pay special attention that you reach the underside of your pet, as this is an area that is harder to get to.

If you bath your dog once every few weeks or so as they grow up, it won’t take them long to start looking forward to getting their coat and skin massaged. Just as a massage feels great to most humans, this is also true of your pets.

Now Dry

When the bathing process is complete, it is important to dry your pet off thoroughly. Professional dog groomers normally use doggy dryers. Most of us don’t have that luxury. As you probably don’t have a dryer that is specifically designed to dry dog’s hair, you can use a few thick towels. Microfibre ones are a good choice though. Be careful as water tends to accumulate on and in the ears, so pay close attention that they are dried thoroughly.

How to Bathe a Dog at Home - Head to Tail

Yes your dog will shake. I read that covering the dogs head, so they can’t see, prevents them shaking. This is what I do with Poppy, and it does seem to work. I also dry her with one of these amazing microfibre towels.

And now you know how to bathe a dog at home. Give it a try a few times. You will get better and your dog will put up with it more, if they don’t love it. Sticking with the hygiene of your dog, don’t forget to regularly clean your dog’s teeth.

Want to remember this?

Post this How to Bathe a Dog at Home article to your favourite Pinterest board!

How to Bathe a Dog at Home
Easy ways to bathe your dog at home
How to Bathe a Dog at Home P2
How to Bathe a Dog at Home P3

5 thoughts on “How to Bathe a Dog at Home”

  1. Great advice, my Ada is not keen on baths but I hope I am gradually getting her used to it. I really like ethique products here in Australia they make shampoo bars etc for humans but they also do a special dog one and they say that most of the shampoo bars for humans are also okay for use on dogs. Like the idea of wipes, they would come in handy for a quick clean up when necessary.

    • Hi Sharon and thanks for visiting. Yes, sometimes it takes a while to get your dog used to being washed but keep at it. The soap I buy for Poppy comes from the same company where I buy human soap and I’m sure there is no difference! Hope you and Ada are keeping safe.

    • You are very lucky! My Poppy loves water when it is ‘au naturel’! When it is in the sink she is not so keen – probably too clean for her tastes!


Leave a comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.