How to wash your dog at home

Improve your dog’s skin, coat, health, and shine through proper bathing technique.

Although bath time for your dog may be stressful and messy, the benefits will make the struggle worth it. For most, the appeal of washing your furry friend is to get rid of odours and dirt. However, the benefits exceed these. Correct bathing can help remove loose hair, scale and debris, and improve the coat’s shine.

When to wash your dog

The consistency and regularity of baths will vary for each dog. A clear sign of when a bath is due is through their odour and evidence of dirt or mud on their paws.

If you wash your dog too frequently, their skin will begin to dry out and they may begin to encounter coat problems. If you regularly swim with your pooch (pool, creek, or the beach) they will require less bathing as these are natural substitutes.

Choosing shampoo

If this is the first time you are bathing your pooch it may be best to consult your local vet for the most suitable product to use. For dogs with skin conditions, they may need to have a unique cleaning schedule as part of a treatment plan.

No matter the breed you will need to choose a product made specifically for dogs. You should avoid using human care products as the pH concentration is different. When trying a new product test a small amount on your pooch to check for signs of irritation.

Pick a location

For some, washing your dog in the yard may be the best and most practical option. Bathing outside can help you avoiding lifting your pooch into a tub, especially if they have jumped out of a tub before.

If you plan on using a garden hose, ensure it is set to low pressure and test the temperature on yourself. In summer the water from the tap can be quiet hot, whereas, during the winter you may need to fill buckets with warmer water.

For smaller dogs you might prefer to use a bath for bathing. During wash time you will need to supervise your dog, if the tub is too full the possibility of drowning increases. Apply non-slip mats in the tub and in the surrounding area. Dogs like to be standing on secure surfaces so not only will this increase their comfort but it will also reduce their chance of injury.

Bathing your dog

When training your furry friend to enjoy bath time, teach them to associate bathing with rewards, treats, or things they love. For most dogs washing is uncommon and therefore frightening. Remember to take things slow and easy, ensure they are relaxed and comfortable.

  1. Brush — before bath time check for tangles in their coat. Brush and trim off knots before running the water.
  2. Add water — wet their hair to the skin starting from the chest/neck area down the back, sides, and tail. If you are using an indoor tub let the water run down the drain.
  3. Washcloth — the head area (including eyes, ears, nose, and mouth) is sensitive for most dogs. To clean this area use a damp face cloth. Do your best to prevent any water entering their ears as this can often cause infections.
  4. Shampoo — apply shampoo starting at the chest before gradually moving to other areas of the body, be sure to get right down to the undercoat.
  5. Massage — after the chest area, massage the product onto the shoulder area, down their sides, back, legs, and then tail area. Check to ensure your dog is comfortable before quickly washing their underside, as this area can be ticklish and sensitive.
  6. Rinse — using your fingers, gently rinse out shampoo, pay close attention to the undercoat.
  7. Conditioner — apply the chosen conditioner to your pet and follow the same process of massaging and rinsing. Check the bottle for instructions as some will require you to leave the product on the coat for several minutes before rinsing.
  8. Towel — once bath time is over, use a towel to help dry them off.
  9. Treats — ensure you reward your furry friend’s calm behaviour with tasty treats. Don’t forget to do this at the beginning and end. These treats will help teach them to love bath time, making the experience fun and enjoyable for you both.

Once your pooch is all clean spend some time grooming them to help maintain their coat.