The Soap and Water of Dog Ownership

Bathing Your Dog Needn’t Be a Chore

It was once believed that dogs should be bathed only when dirty. But that attitude has changed with the advent of shampoos formulated specifically for dogs. If a gentle shampoo is used, a dog can usually be bathed weekly without drying out his coat.

Though your typical puppy is quite clean, it’s best to show your dog at a young age that bath time isn’t punishment. Make the bath fun for your dog by introducing a toy, lavishing your dog with praise and offering a treat at the end. Here are a few tips on how to effectively bathe your dog:

  • Brush your dog thoroughly before bathing to remove dead hair and mats that will tangle when wet.
  • Gather everything you need for the bath before turning on the water—shampoo, towels, and possibly cotton balls to place in your dog’s ears so water won’t run into them.
  • Place your dog in the tub (or wherever you’re going to bathe him), and wet him to the skin with warm water.
  • Lather with a gentle dog shampoo (never use shampoo made for people).
  • Rinse thoroughly with warm water. It’s very important to rinse out every bit of soap. To help in combing out afterward, some people apply a small amount of conditioner, which is rinsed out as well.
  • Always make sure to avoid her eyes and inside her ears.

After the rinse (and after your wet dog has vigorously shaken water from his coat), absorb as much water as possible with a towel. Brush your dog dry and use a blow dryer (made for dogs) set on a warm, gentle setting to speed the process. Hold the dryer at least a foot away from your dog so you don’t burn his skin. Keep him in a warm place until he is completely dry.

Originally published in AKC New Puppy Handbook