If your dog is anything like mine, your furry best friend tends to come home from playing at the dog park covered in dog knows what.
Bathing your fur baby can seem like quite a daunting task, especially if they’re not a fan of bathtime. Dog hygiene is just as important as ensuring they’re getting the proper vitamins and nutrients they need.
Well, no need to worry! We broke down the top tips for how to bathe a dog at home, to keep you—and your pup—stress-free.
How Often Should You Wash Your Dog?
One of the biggest questions new pup parents have around dog maintenance is, “How often do I wash my dog?”
Like any pet parenting decision, there’s no one right answer. It may change depending on the season, what activities you and your dog have been up to, and the dog itself.
For dogs with luscious long hair, they may need baths anywhere from weekly to every six weeks. Dogs with thick coats will need their baths spaced out to about once a month to prevent stripping their skin of essential natural oils, which could lead to skin-infections and skin-irritation. Hairless doggos may even require weekly baths to keep their skin healthy.
The general rule of thumb for most dogs is once a month, more if they’re dirty extra, or less if their skin is looking dry.
How to Wash a Dog? Start with the Best Products and Tools
Just like the frequency of bathing, what dog or puppy shampoo you use depends on your dog’s coat and skin needs.
There are some general things you want and don’t want when buying a dog shampoo. Here’s what to look for when making your selection.
Characteristics of the Best Dog Shampoo
Anything that goes on your dog’s skin can be absorbed into their bloodstream, which is why you want to avoid harmful chemicals and ingredients.
The best dog shampoos are free of:
- Phthalates, sulfates, and parabens
- Artificial colors and fragrances
- DEA, MEA, and TEA
Instead look for ingredients like:
Keep in mind that if your dog has skin ailments like itching, flaking, or dryness, you may need to opt for a medicated shampoo. You may also want to consider a shampoo with flea and tick protection, or a gentle shampoo made specifically for puppies – if you have one.
Public Goods’ Oatmeal and Aloe Dog Shampoo is natural and soothing, even for dogs with itchy dry skin. It’s tear-free and made without harmful ingredients that can irritate skin or strip your dog’s natural oils.
Additional Helpful Tools
It doesn’t stop at shampoo! While you can certainly keep up your dog’s grooming with minimal supplies, you may want to consider grabbing these tools as well:
- A waterless shampoo to use between baths. These can help when brushing your dog, especially if they tend to have tangly hair!
- Comb and/or brush. Brushing your dog’s hair a few times a week helps to prevent tangles and can be a sweet bonding activity for you two.
- Conditioner. While this isn’t necessary, a natural conditioner can help keep your dog’s coat shiny and moisturized.
Your Step-by-Step Guide to Bathing Your Dog
Now that you’ve got the gear you need, here’s how to properly clean a dog.
1. Test the Water
Dogs’ skin is sensitive to heat, so be sure the water is warm but not hot before starting to wash them.
2. Grab the Shampoo
Scrub a dub dub, dog in the tub! Shampoo time. Massage in the shampoo, paying special attention to dirty areas and places with thick fur while avoiding mouths, eyes, and nose.
Again, this step is optional. If you do choose to use conditioner, some are meant to be massaged in and rinsed off in the tub, while others can be used as a leave-in treatment.
4. Rinse Cycle!
Be sure to thoroughly rinse off any shampoo or conditioner unless it’s a leave-in. Leftover shampoo can dry out your dog’s skin. Use a cup or container to gently splash your pup until they’re shiny and new.
How Do You Wash a Dog’s Face?
The safest way to wash your dog’s face is with a washcloth.
First wipe down around the eyes, especially if they tend to get crusties there. Then dip the washcloth in warm, soapy water – it’s helpful to have a separate bowl for this – and wipe the rest of their face.
How to Dry and Brush Your Dog Post-Bath
All clean! Now that you know how to properly bathe your dog, it’s time to get them dry before they go to dig yet another hole in the yard.
The most reliable drying method for dogs is with a good old-fashioned towel. For bigger dogs, consider investing in a large bath towel. For dogs with longer hair, you’ll want to repeatedly wipe them from their head down. Avoid vigorously rubbing as this can lead to tangles and knots. You may need multiple towels for this.
Some people opt for a blow dryer when drying their dog. This should be done on the lowest setting and with caution, as it could potentially burn your dog.
Of course, no grooming session is complete without proper brushing.
Arisa Thomas, a Los Angeles-based dog groomer, gives us some professional insight. “My biggest hack for you is to brush your dog with a slicker brush to loosen the hair and any tangles. Then use the comb to thoroughly comb through their hair from root to tip. If the comb doesn’t glide through the hair, you’ve still got some work to do!”
5 Final Dog Bathing Tips
At this point, you’re nearly a professional dog groomer! Here are some final tips to keep in mind when grooming your dog.
1. Make it a Ritual
Thomas encourages making a routine of your grooming.
“As a professional pet groomer, my biggest tip for taking care of your pup is daily maintenance. Especially if your dog has a longer coat. Invest in a slicker brush and metal tooth comb and set up a daily ritual to brush your dog. Think of it as extra bonding time to spend with your favorite friend!”
2. Prepare the Space
Be sure you have towels close by so that you don’t have a wet pup wandering around while you’re clamoring for a towel. It’s also helpful to have a non-stick mat for your tub, another towel down over your bath mat, and something to block the drain from incoming fur.
3. Reward Them
Part of the reward is simply being gentle and using positive reinforcement. You want to encourage them to like the bath, so praise them while they’re in there being calm, and offer them something delicious and nutritious, like our freeze-dried chicken dog treats, during and after their grooming session.
4. Try Hemp Oil
If bathing your dog is far from relaxing for both of you, you may want to try hemp oil or CBD oil to help them with grooming-related anxiety. Read up on how to give hemp oil to a dog here.
5. Be Flexible
Grooming doesn’t just include bathing.
The more grooming you do in between baths, especially for long-haired dogs, the longer you can space out bath times.
It’s OK to be flexible with your dog washing schedule and adjust as needed.
You’re Now a Dog Washing Pro
With these tips, you’re about to have the best-groomed pup on the block. Stock up on healthy dog food, treats, and shampoo with Public Goods’ Dog Bundle now. Grab your dog, and just add water!
Download Our Free Guide to Sustainable Living.
From reducing waste to recycling and upcycling, our e-book shows simple ways to make choices you can feel good about.