How to bathe your dog: basics for pet parents

Bathing your pet once a month is a good idea. But what exactly proper pet bathing looks like?

The key to easy bathing is having proper facilities. The best option is a raised tub with a dog friendly designed water nozzle. If such an option is not available to you, we recommend investing in a hand held shower head with at least a 6 ft. hose. We also recommend using a rubber mat on the bottom of the tub to help make your dog feel more secure and less likely to slide. Especially with dogs not familiar to baths, it may be necessary to secure their head in a special bath leash.


The water temperature should be warm and comfortable to your own skin. Not as hot as you like it, but not cold either.

Wet the coat, starting at the back of the neck and working down the spine toward the tail. Keeping the nozzle close to the skin will allow the water to penetrate the coat, and keep the water from spraying you.

Work the nozzle down one side of the dog including the legs then down the other side until the pet is thoroughly saturated. Heavily coated dogs will take longer to wet and rinse. Once the body coat is soaked, wet the head taking care to not get the water in the eyes, nose or ears. Dogs of some kinds need cotton balls to be placed in ears to prevent getting water into the canal.


Distribute the shampoo evenly onto your hands and massage it into the dog’s skin with your fingers. Again starting at the back of the neck in a similar pattern as wetting the dog. For a particularly dirty dog, more than one shampooing may be needed to get him or her really clean. During the second application we highly recommend leaving the product on the coat for several minutes. This will allow the active ingredients absorb into the hair and skin. Then THOROUGHLY RINSE all traces of shampoo from the coat. Leaving even small amounts of shampoo in the coat is the number one cause of skin irritation in dogs.


Apply the appropriate conditioner, following the same procedure as for shampooing. Some coat types may do better leaving trace amounts of conditioner in the coat or letting the conditioner sit in the coat a few minutes before rinsing. This will be specific to your dog’s individual coat care needs.

Conditioners are typically used to protect the hair from damage caused by styling tools and products as well as environmental factors and to help loosen tangles. Many harsh coated breeds still need some type of conditioner applied to beards or leg furnishings.


Squeeze out as much water as possible while the dog is still in the tub. You can then towel dry the coat before carefully removing your pet from the tub. Depending on your breed, you may need to use a specifically designed dryer to help dry the coat completely.

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