Knowing how to bathe a dog can be very handy before you get started. Giving your dog a bath can either be an easy experience or it could be a scene straight out of a funny home video.

Here's how to give your dog a bath while keeping yourself from getting (too) wet:

  1. Pick a location:


    Pros: The great outdoors provides a lot of space and it will save you from having to clean up your bathtub or shower post-bath. All you need is a hose and, ideally, something that can function as a tub.

    Cons: Depending on your landscape, the "great outdoors" could become the "great get dirty all over again" before your dog is dry.


    Pros: Whether you choose your shower or the tub (depending on dog size), either way, it's well-contained.

    Cons: You'll have some clean-up to do afterward.

    Self service pet wash.

    Pros: Perfect for when you don't have enough room or do not have a backyard. Also great for containing the mess and keeping your house clean. Best of all, many self-wash salons, like the ones offered at Unleashed by Petco stores, provide everything you need - from dog shampoo and conditioner to towels, aprons, combs and brushes and even blow dryers.

    Cons: Travel time, if your dog doesn't like car rides.

    Grooming salon.

    Pros: Your dog will be pampered - thoroughly cleaned, brushed and styled, and his nails will be trimmed.

    Cons: The more expensive of the four location options, but worth it if your dog has a specific hair cut you prefer, needs his nails trimmed or if you would like him shaved to a summer cut -anything that requires a lot of extra work beyond a bath.

  2. Gather your supplies. You will need:
    • Dog shampoo. Select one that is ideal for your dog's coat. There are many to choose from: non-itch formulas, ones that whiten a white dog's coat, flea and tick varieties and those that have wonderful scents.
    • Dog conditioner. Again, select one that meets your dog's needs, like added shine or detangler.
    • Towels
    • Treats
    • A non-slip surface (if you are indoors)
    • Ear cleaner
    • Combs
    • Brushes/FURminator
    • Cotton balls
    • Collar and leash
  3. Get prepared.
    • Brush your dog BEFORE you bathe him.
    • Remove any mats before he gets wet. Wet mats become more tightly wound once they get wet, which could then require professional clipping
    • If bathing your dog in your bathroom, cover the floor of your bath area with a non-slip item like a bath mat.
    • Grab your shampoo and conditioner. Read the label for any further instructions.
    • Check your flea medication to ensure that it will not lose potency or wash out with shampoo. Check reapplication recommendations.
    • Clean your dog's ears with cotton balls first.
  4. Bathtime:
    • If you are bathing your dog outside, you may want to leave on his leash, in case he tries to make a run for it.
    • Rinse your dog with tepid (never hot) water. Start at his head and work back to his tail. Use a sprayer to make sure the water penetrates all the way to his skin.
    • Starting at his head, work shampoo into your dog's coat. Work your way back to his tail. Work up a good lather, but avoid eyes and ears, to minimize irritation. Follow label directions for how long to let it sit on your dog's coat.
    • Thoroughly rinse out the shampoo, starting with his head and working back to his tail. Never leave shampoo in your dog's coat, as that can cause irritation.
    • Towel dry your dog and let him run around and shake. If you want a thorough drying, use a hair dryer on a cool setting. If you allow your dog to run around outside, be aware that he may instinctively roll around in the grass, undoing all of your bathing efforts.

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