Bathtime doesn't have to be a struggle. These steps will give you a clean pup without the hassle.

By Doug Jimerson
Updated December 30, 2020
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Just like humans, dogs need baths to keep them looking good and smelling fresh. However, your four-legged friend probably needs to be washed much less than you do, according to the American Kennel Club (AKC). It depends on their coat type, activity level, and health conditions. That means some pooches need weekly baths, while others can go a few weeks or a month without sudsing up. Talk to your veterinarian to see how often you should be washing your pup. 

Once you determine how frequently you need to be bathing your dog, you will need a plan to make the process go as smoothly as possible. (Don't worry, dogs typically are much easier to clean than cats because they don't have such disdain for getting wet). 

Here is your step-by-step guide on how to give your dog a bath without turning it into a sudsy struggle.

woman washing dog in tub
Credit: Eva Blanco/EyeEm/Getty Images

1. Ease Your Dog Into the Idea of Bath Time

Never wrestle with your dog to give it a bath. Gradually acclimate your dog to the concept of a bath by placing him in the tub when it's dry and then giving the dog a treat when he calms down. Repeat the process several times until your dog is completely comfortable sitting or standing in the tub. Then, follow the same procedure by adding a little warm water to the bottom of the tub. Keep praising and offering treats when your dog is calm. You want bath time to become fun for your dog. Be patient at all times.

2. Brush Before Bathing

Before you give your dog a bath, be sure to thoroughly brush and comb your dog's coat to remove any tangles that could get worse once they are wet. Brushing your dog before a bath will also help remove loose hair that could clog your drain.

3. Pick the Right Tub

Always use a tub that is large enough for your dog and provides solid footing. One way to do this: Place a rubber mat on the bottom of your tub to keep your dog from slipping and become fearful.

4. Shampoo

Wet your dog down with lukewarm water and apply a gentle pH-balanced shampoo
designed especially for dogs. If you have a handheld sprayer, use it to gently soak your dog's coat. Avoid spraying your dog in the face, and instead use a wet washcloth around your dog's muzzle and eyes. Then, use your fingers to massage the shampoo through the entire coat.

5. Rinse and Condition

Thoroughly rinse away all the shampoo from your dog's coat, and then apply a conditioner that's designed for dogs. (If your dog has a short-haired coat, a conditioner might not be necessary.) Many dog conditioners will help prevent future tangles and will keep the coat moisturized. Never use shampoos or conditioners designed for people.

6. Rinse Again

After applying the conditioner to the entire coat, rinse, rinse, and rinse again to remove all traces of the shampoo and conditioner before you dry your dog. Soap and conditioner left on your dog will dry his skin.

7. Towel Off

Once your dog is rinsed clean, remove him from the tub and rub him down with dry towels. You can also use a blow dryer on a low-heat setting as long as it doesn't frighten your dog.

8. Wait for the Shake

No matter how much you dry your dog, it will still want to roll around on the carpet to dry itself. So, be sure your dog is in a room where you won't mind a little moisture on the rug or the walls if it decides to shake away excess moisture.

10. Stay Inside

If possible, keep your clean pup indoors for several hours after a bath. Otherwise, you run the risk of them rolling in the dirt and grass to dry off, undoing all your hard work. If the weather is cool, keeping them inside also will prevent them from getting chilled.

11. Brush Again

Allow your dog's coat to thoroughly dry before attempting to brush it. Combing or brushing a wet coat can be painful for the dog.

The more your dog takes baths, the more cooperative they will be. Follow these steps to a clean and happy pup.

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