Six Tips for Bathing Your Dog

Bathing a dog can prove to be difficult. We've assembled 6 easy-to-follow tips to help bath-time feel like a breeze.

Bathing your dog. Closeup of dog with suds on his head.

Keep the suds out of your dog's eyes when bathing them.

As any dog owner can tell you, bathing a dog is like entering the fray of a messy battle. You go in uncertain and won't make it out unscathed – likely covered with soap, shed fur, and a dog coat's worth of water. But with some simple tips, you can manage the whole process with relatively little damage.

While there's the chance that your dog is as good-natured, sweet, and bath-loving as they come, that makes your pet an outlier. For everyone else, prepare yourself.

  1. Pick your arena. If you're lucky enough to be able to wash your dog outdoors, don't hesitate for a second. You'll save yourself, your tub, and the bathroom walls a whole lot of grief! Still, indoor baths are the norm most of the year, and the tub is usually the best bet.
  2. Keep tools at hand. Since most of your energy will be focused on keeping your pet calm and relaxed in the tub, you don't want to be scampering around the house looking for dog shampoo, brushes, a no-slip bathmat, or towels. Assemble everything you'll need ahead of time and keep it close by.
  3. Test the water. Don't just send your poor dog into the tub without testing the water first! Too cold or too hot, neither's any good, but do err on the side of caution and stick to lukewarm rather than warm. Whatever your own preferred heat setting, it's probably too much for your pet.
  4. Be gentle. The process of washing your dog should be more like a massage than a scrub. Let your dog acclimate to the water slowly, and get his or her coat wet bit by bit, avoiding anywhere around the eyes. Then apply shampoo, which you can gently rub in, starting at the tail and working your way up to the head. Be careful when rinsing so you don't get any into your dog's eyes!
  5. Grab a towel – quickly! Chances are, you've already suffered one or two bouts of any dog's "quick-dry" method at this point. But regardless, make sure you grab that towel and start drying off your pet ASAP if you want to avoid further messes.
  6. Hand over that treat
    It might've taken a dog treat or two just to get your pet into the bathroom, but don't forget to reward him or her with another snack afterward. A job well done always deserves recognition! (So, yeah, why not treat yourself as well?)
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