How to Bathe a Dog

Getting a new dog for the first time is a very exciting time, but there are some things that may be a bit confusing for first time dog owners. For instance, how do you get your new puppy to sit still for things like baths and nail trims? Well, you’re in luck because we will explain everything that you need to know about bathing a dog right here in this article.

Bathing a dog is actually a lot simpler than it may seem at first. Once you have gathered your supplies and have lukewarm water running, you just need to get your puppy in the bath. You might need to make the experience extra fun and entertaining for your dog at first, though.

Get ready because we will be giving you a step by step guide on how to bathe your dog. We will also be addressing some other commonly asked questions about bathing dogs. Alright, let’s dive right in!

How do You Bathe a Dog

Bathing a dog is actually pretty easy. It’s getting your dog to sit still and stay in the bath that tends to be the hard part. Here is a detailed step by step guide on how to bathe your dog.

dog bath in Peoria, IL

Step 1: Get Your Supplies

It is a good idea to gather up all of your supplies before even getting your dog into the bath. Here are some of the dog bathing supplies that you may need.

  • Dog shampoo
  • A washcloth
  • A towel (or multiple)
  • Some toys and treats to keep your dog well behaved
  • An empty cup or pitcher (helps pour water to rinse out the shampoo if you do not have a handheld shower head)
  • Any other hygiene supplies that you may need

Once you have all of your supplies ready and easily accessible, you can move on to step two and get the bath ready.

Step 2: Run Some Warm Water

Next, you will need to run some warm water for your dog’s bath. This water should be lukewarm, and it should be comfortable for you to put your hand in. This is very important because water that is too hot or cold could give your dog a negative association with baths once they touch the water.

Additionally, it is important that you do not make the water too deep. Deep water could make a dog fearful, especially if they are not used to the water. This is especially important for those with very small dogs because water can become deep for them very quickly. Make it so that the water does not go far above their legs, but still have enough water so that you can rinse them off easily.

Step 3: Get Your Dog in the Bath

After you have your supplies and bathwater ready, you will need to get your dog into the bath. Now, this is the most complicated step for many new dog owners because some dogs may not want to get into the bath. If this is happening to you, don’t worry. There is a solution.

Using things like high value treats and toys when your dog gets into the bath will usually entice them to at least get into the bath without incident. It is a good idea to continue making bath time a fun experience for your dog by giving them these things intermittently. This will give your dog a positive association with the bath, which will make the process for you easier in the future.

Step 4: Shampoo Your Dog

Once your dog is in the bath and seems to be having a good time, it is time for the shampoo. It is best to use a shampoo that is made for dogs, as it will be much easier on their skin and coats.

When shampooing your dog it is important to be careful about not putting shampoo into sensitive areas, particularly the eyes. No one likes soap in their eyes, and your dog will appreciate not having to experience it.

Also, it is a good idea to get out some treats and toys during the shampooing process, especially if your dog is becoming antsy. This will make it more likely that they will stay in the bath throughout the process and enjoy the experience.

Step 5: Thoroughly Rinse the Shampoo From Your Dog’s Fur

Once your dog’s coat is all lathered up with shampoo, you will need to rinse the soap out. You can do this with a handheld showerhead or with a clean water cup or pitcher. Make sure you get all of the shampoo out of your dog’s fur, as soap buildup can cause skin irritation.

Like with the two previous steps in this process, it can be beneficial to encourage your dog with toys and treats when rinsing out their shampoo. This is because this process can be jarring to some dogs. The high value rewards will help keep the experience fun and positive for your dog.

Step 6: Dry Off Your Dog

Lastly, it is a good idea to dry off your dog. Many people choose to use an old towel when doing this, as it is generally the safest and easiest method for most people.

On the other hand, some people choose to blow dry their dog’s fur because it makes it look nicer after the fact. This is totally fine, especially if your dog is used to the hair dryer. Just be careful that the blow dryer isn’t too hot so you do not burn your dog’s skin.

How Often Should You Bathe Your Dog?

Generally speaking, most dogs need a bath about every two months and again when they get really dirty. This varies depending on the time of year and what activities your dog gets up to. You should try to avoid bathing a dog more than once a month because doing so could negatively affect a dog’s skin and coat.

How do You Wash a Dog’s Face?

When washing a dog’s face it is best to use a clean and wet washcloth with no shampoo or soap on it. This will prevent soap from getting in your dog’s eyes, while also cleaning the face. Don’t pour water over your dogs face, as this may be frightening for them and lead to them no longer willingly participating in bathtime.


While giving a dog a bath for the first few times can seem intimidating, learning how to bathe a dog is just another part of a dog owner’s responsibilities. If you struggle with bathing your dog, talk to a vet about other options. Your dog may be against baths for a number of reasons, whether that is anxiety, a skin condition that is making them uncomfortable, or something else.

If you are located in the Peoria, IL region, visit Whitney Veterinary Hospital. Our expert vets will be able to look at the root cause of your dog’s behaviors and treat any underlying conditions that may be making bathtime difficult for your dog. Give us a call today at (309) 685-4707, or Request an Appointment Online.