Ultimate guide to washing dogs at home: tips, tricks, and techniques

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Alison Mcdermott


Giving your dog a bath is a super important way to keep them happy and healthy. Not only does it leave them smelling fresh and clean, but it also helps keep their fur looking fabulous.

However, we’re aware that with certain dogs, it might be a bit of a challenge.

But don’t fret, in this guide, we’ll take you through the easy, step-by-step process of giving your dog a bath at home. You will  both look forward to bath time in no time!


Before you start, pick a location that works best for your situation.

For example, if you have a large dog and the climate is hot enough, leashing up your dog near a hose outside is a good option.

This way, you don’t have to worry about getting your bathtub dirty and your floor will not become a slippery mess. 

Or if you have a small dog, you might not even need a tub and using the bath sink will suffice.


Next, let’s  gather all the necessary supplies. 

  • Brush: Brush your dog before the bath to remove any tangles or mats.
  • Treats: Use high reward treats such as jerky, peanut butter or any other treats they love so they can associate bath time as good times!
  • Dog-specific Shampoo: Choose a mild, vet-approved dog shampoo that suits your dog’s coat type and any specific skin conditions they may have. Remember not to use shampoo for humans as their PH level is different from ours!
  • Wash cloth: To wipe down their face 
  • Towels: Have several towels on hand for drying your dog.
  • Non-slip Mat or Towel: Place this in the bathtub to provide your dog with secure footing. ( optional) 
  • A Cup or small bucket: For rinsing your dog
  • Blow Dryer (Optional): If your dog is comfortable with it, a blow dryer can help speed up the drying process.

Put aside some time

If you don’t have ample time for a wash, dogs can pick up on a sense of urgency and might make them anxious. You want your dog to be relaxed as much as possible and also make bath time a positive experience for both of you. 

Preparing your dog

  • Brush Your Dog: Before you start, gently brush your dog to remove any tangles, mats, or loose fur. If the dog has a mat that cannot be brushed down, get a scissor and snip it off. ( Remember to keep the scissor turned away in case they move )
  • Secure Your Dog: Ensure your dog is in a secure area, like a bathroom or a well-enclosed outdoor space. If possible, use a leash to prevent them from wandering off.
  • Check the Water Temperature: Fill the tub with lukewarm water. It should be comfortably warm, similar to what you’d use for a baby. If you are outside on a hot day, a cool rinse from the hose is perfectly fine. 

The bathing process

  • Wet Your Dog: Using a cup or a bucket, wet your dog thoroughly, starting from the neck down.
  • Skip the face for later.
  • Apply Shampoo: Pour a small amount of dog shampoo into your hand and lather it. Gently massage it into your dog’s coat, avoiding their face, ears, and eyes. Pay special attention to areas like the neck, underarms, and tail where dirt tends to accumulate.
  • Clean the Face and Ears: Dampen a washcloth or a sponge with water (without shampoo) and carefully wipe your dog’s face, being cautious around their eyes, ears, and mouth.
  • Rinse Thoroughly: Use a cup or bucket to rinse your dog, making sure to remove all traces of shampoo. Any residue left can irritate their skin.
  • Dry Your Dog: Using a towel, gently pat your dog dry. If your dog is comfortable with it, you can use a blow dryer on a low setting, keeping it at a safe distance from their skin. Be cautious not to use high heat, as it can be uncomfortable for them.

Tips for a successful bath

  • Stay Calm and Patient: Dogs can sense your emotions. If you’re calm and patient, it will help your dog feel more at ease.
  • Use Positive Reinforcement: Offer treats and praise throughout the wash to reward good behavior.
  • Be Mindful of Ears and Eyes: Take extra care to prevent water, shampoo, or soap from getting into your dog’s ears, eyes, or nose.
  • Choose the Right Shampoo: Use a vet-approved dog shampoo that’s suitable for your dog’s coat type and any specific skin conditions they may have.
  • Maintain a Routine: Establishing a regular bathing routine can help your dog become more and more comfortable each time


Remember, practice makes perfect! With each bath, both of you will learn together that bathing is a fun and rewarding experience!

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