Dog Bathing Tips: The Best and Easiest Way to Wash Your Pup

October 27, 2022

Small brown and white pup getting bath

As a dog owner, you know how important it is to bathe your dog regularly. Not only are you helping your pup clean up the grime and dirt that inevitably gets picked up during those long walks and romps in the park, but you’re also making sure that he or she stays well coifed and looking his or her best.

While most people would rather hire professionals for their dog bathing needs, it is important to know how to bathe a dog at home in case you are ever in a situation where you will have to do it yourself. If you’re tired of fighting your dog every time you wash them or are doing it for the first time, try a few different tactics to help it go more smoothly.

The Importance of Dog Bathing

Bathing a dog is one of the most important things you can do to keep your pet healthy, clean, and smelling great. Here are reasons why you should regularly bathe your dog.

  • Bathing helps keep your dog’s skin clean and healthy. It removes dirt, bacteria, and other irritants from their skin so they don’t get irritated or develop infections.
  • Bathing helps remove excess natural oils from your dog’s coat, which makes it shinier and healthier looking.
  • Bathing helps eliminate dandruff or dry skin flakes (depending on what type of coat your dog has).
  • Bathing can help eliminate fleas or ticks that might be living on your pup’s body.
  • Bathing helps control shedding by removing loose hair from your dog’s undercoat.
  • Bathing a dog is a great way to bond with your pet. Watching them wag their tails as you scrub them down can make even the most tired dog lover smile.

How Often Should I Wash My Dog?

How often you bathe your pup depends on various factors, including the breed, coat length, skin sensitivity, and season. Washing your dog too much can strip the skin of oils, leading to skin irritation, dryness, and itching. You should wash your dog when they get dirty, but if you see that they are not dirty or just got a bath, don’t bathe them again unless absolutely necessary (for example, fleas).

Generally, most dogs are bathed every four weeks with an occasional in-between bath when they get too dirty. Puppies shouldn’t be bathed before they are eight weeks old because they cannot regulate their internal temperature as well as older dogs. When they’re under eight weeks old, use a warm and wet cloth as necessary.

Dogs with short hair require less frequent baths than those with long hair. Breeds such as Labradors have double coats that protect them from the elements, which don’t require bathing as often as single-coat dogs.

For some dogs, frequent bathing can cause dry skin and other skin conditions. For these dogs, it’s best to limit baths to once every 2 months or so. However, if your dog has sensitive skin or allergies (like atopic dermatitis), frequent baths may be necessary to prevent flare-ups.

You should also avoid using shampoos containing any kind of fragrances or dyes. These can irritate sensitive skin and trigger allergic reactions in some dogs.

Dog Bathing Supplies

You can bathe your dog in the sink or bathtub or use a large plastic tub. You’ll need a few items to make this process easier for both you and your pet.

Dog Shampoo

The best dog shampoo for your pup will depend on his coat type and skin issues. Some dogs need to be bathed with a medicated shampoo, especially if they have skin allergies or other skin conditions. Other dogs just need a gentle shampoo that will keep their coats and skin soft without drying them out. Make sure you read the label before you buy and pick one that’s appropriate for your dog’s needs.

Naturals Basics Oatmeal Shampoo

Not available online.

{{storeQuantity}} in stock in {{}}

Limited stock in {{}} Check nearby stores

Out of stock in {{}} Check nearby stores

Not carried in {{}} Check nearby stores

Cannot be sold in {{}} Check nearby stores

Earthbath Hypo-Allergenic Shampoo, 16 oz.

Not available online.

{{storeQuantity}} in stock in {{}}

Limited stock in {{}} Check nearby stores

Out of stock in {{}} Check nearby stores

Not carried in {{}} Check nearby stores

Cannot be sold in {{}} Check nearby stores

Dog Conditioner (Optional)

Some shampoos come with conditioners in them, but if yours doesn’t you can add some after your dog has been rinsed off. This will help keep her coat soft and shiny after washing it out of all the soap residue. If your dog has dry or brittle fur, you might want to use a conditioner more often than once every few months just to keep her coat looking good between baths (especially during winter).

Durvet, Naturals Basics 2 in 1 Conditioning Shampoo

Not available online.

{{storeQuantity}} in stock in {{}}

Limited stock in {{}} Check nearby stores

Out of stock in {{}} Check nearby stores

Not carried in {{}} Check nearby stores

Cannot be sold in {{}} Check nearby stores

Cotton Balls

Cotton balls are great for cleaning your dog’s ears and other sensitive areas or keeping their ears dry during bath time. Excess moisture in the ear canal can cause problems down the road. Placing cotton balls in their ears can keep water and soap out.

Dog Brush

The right brush can make all the difference when it comes to grooming your dog. Dog brushes come in all shapes and sizes. The right brush for your dog depends on its coat and skin sensitivity.

Slicker brush: This brush has fine wire bristles that penetrate deep into the hair and remove loose fur and dirt. Slicker brushes are helpful for long-haired dogs with matted hair or thick coats. If used incorrectly, they can cause damage to the skin and coat.

Pin brush: This brush has rubber or plastic bristles instead of wires, which makes it gentler on both you and your dog’s skin. Use it on medium-to-long-haired dogs to remove minor tangles from their fur without damaging their skin or coat.

Rake brush: Rakes are used to remove dead hair from your dog’s coat, leaving him with a shiny, clean coat that feels soft to the touch. Undercoat rakes have curved and sharp placed that remove loose fur from a dog’s undercoat.

Deshedding: A de-shedding tool is specially designed to remove loose fur from your pet’s coat without damaging it. These tools come in many different shapes and sizes, so choose one based on the size of your pet and how much fur they shed.

Flea comb: Flea combs are designed to trap fleas and flea eggs within their finely spaced teeth. Prevent a flea infestation with this chemical-free alternative to other flea control products.

Safari, Long Hair Dog Slicker Brush

Not available online.

{{storeQuantity}} in stock in {{}}

Limited stock in {{}} Check nearby stores

Out of stock in {{}} Check nearby stores

Not carried in {{}} Check nearby stores

Cannot be sold in {{}} Check nearby stores

Safari Pin & Bristle Combo Dog Brush, Large

Not available online.

{{storeQuantity}} in stock in {{}}

Limited stock in {{}} Check nearby stores

Out of stock in {{}} Check nearby stores

Not carried in {{}} Check nearby stores

Cannot be sold in {{}} Check nearby stores

Safari Double Row Dog Undercoat Rake

Not available online.

{{storeQuantity}} in stock in {{}}

Limited stock in {{}} Check nearby stores

Out of stock in {{}} Check nearby stores

Not carried in {{}} Check nearby stores

Cannot be sold in {{}} Check nearby stores

Ear Cleaner (Optional)

Cleaning your dog’s ears is an important part of grooming, but it can be messy and painful for your pet. Look for a product specifically for cleaning a dog’s ear canal (instead of just flushing water inside). The vet should give you some recommendations based on her own experience with your dog breed.

Dog Toothbrush (Optional)

A dog’s teeth are just as important as yours. Brushing your dog’s teeth regularly can help prevent dental disease, which is much more common in dogs than in humans. Buy a toothbrush for your dog and brush his teeth once or twice a week after meals (just like you would brush your own teeth).

Dog Toothpaste (Optional)

Choose your dog’s toothpaste carefully. For best results, choose a toothpaste formulated specifically for dogs. These products contain ingredients to help remove plaque and tartar from your dog’s teeth.

Nail Clippers (Optional)

There are many different types of nail clippers available but some are better than others depending on your needs and preferences. There are two main types of nail clippers: guillotine style and scissor style.

Safari Professional Dog Nail Trimmer

Not available online.

{{storeQuantity}} in stock in {{}}

Limited stock in {{}} Check nearby stores

Out of stock in {{}} Check nearby stores

Not carried in {{}} Check nearby stores

Cannot be sold in {{}} Check nearby stores


You’ll need a couple of bath towels, one for drying and one to lay your dog on while they’re being dried and avoid shaking. The more absorbent the towel is, the better. Make sure the towel is large enough to completely cover your dog’s body without having to overlap it. It doesn’t hurt to have two towels handy.

In addition to a regular bath towel, you may want to invest in a microfiber towel that’s specifically designed for drying your pet after bathing. These towels are particularly good at wicking moisture away from fur and skin, which makes them ideal for drying wet dogs.

Blow Dryer

A blow dryer helps speed up the drying process by blowing cool air over your dog’s body to help eliminate excess water from his coat and skin. Dogs with long hair will need a blow dryer after they get out of the tub since most long-haired breeds become heavier than their short-haired counterparts after they’ve been soaking in water.

Dog Treats and Toys

Many dogs who get stressed when washed may respond well to dog treats and toys during bath time. Squeaky toys are one of their favorites and can keep them entertained while you’re scrubbing away. Peanut butter and other treats can also keep them distracted while forming positive associations with the bathtub or cleaning area.

Where Should I Give My Dog a Bath?

Spaniel dog getting bath

Wash your dog outside if possible, especially during warm weather, since most indoor surfaces aren’t designed for water, or shampoo spills like grass and concrete are. Keep your pup secured to prevent them from running all over the yard.

Consider putting down plastic sheeting or newspaper underneath your pet’s feet while he’s being bathed so that he doesn’t slip while standing on wet surfaces indoors or outdoors.

When bathing indoors, find a tub that’s large enough for your dog to lie down in comfortably and stand up in. When bathing your pup in the tub, use a hair catcher to prevent clogged drains. You will likely need a removaebale shower head or faucet attachment.

If you have a large dog that doesn’t like baths, invest in one of these collapsible tubs. If you have small dogs, you can use the kitchen sink or a bucket. Most importantly, find a calm, quiet place where your pet can feel relaxed.

How to Wash a Dog

The dog bathing process doesn’t have to be stressful for you and your dog. We provide dog bathing tips from the pros to have a successful dog bath time after time.

Brush Out Mats and Tangles

Some dogs have long or short hair, but all need regular brushing to keep their coats looking good. The best time to brush your dog is before bath time. That way, any mats or tangles will be loosened up and easier to brush out during the bath.

Brushing out mats and tangles is the first step to a healthy coat and skin. A mat is a knot of matted hair that can cause pain and discomfort for your dog. It also looks bad and can make your dog look like he has lost some fur. If you notice your dog has severe matting in his fur, you should take him to the groomer or vet to have them removed.

Brushing out mats and tangles is best done with a slicker brush and other detangling brushes and combs. Start at the top of the mat and work your way down, loosening it as much as possible before cutting away any excess fur. Be careful not to cut too close to your dog’s skin, or you may cause him pain or bleeding.

Secure Your Pet

If your dog is afraid of the water, use a toy or treat to encourage them to go in the tub. Also, make sure that you have a secure leash for your pet. This will help keep them from jumping out of the tub or knocking over the shampoo bottle.

Your dog may not want to stand still while you scrub him down with shampoo and water. To ensure that he doesn’t escape from the tub or sink while you’re working on him, put a leash around his neck and attach it to something solid. Please be sure that your dog is safe and does not attempt to jump off the counter.

Check the Water Temperature

Check the water temperature for lukewarm water. As long as your dog is comfortable in the bathtub, then he will enjoy it more. If the water is too cold or too hot, then he may not want to stay in there with you.

Use Cotton Balls to Keep Ears Dry

Cotton balls can be used to keep your dog’s ears dry. Just place a few cotton balls in each ear before shampooing and gently massage them around the ear canal. This will prevent soap from entering their ears and causing irritation or pain.

Apply Shampoo

Apply shampoo with your hands and keep the lather away from your dog’s eyes and mouth until you’re finished washing him. You can also use a small amount of shampoo on your hand as an effective way to clean an area where dirt has collected (such as between toes).

Many dog shampoos need to be diluted and require them to be left on the dog’s skin for 5-10 minutes, especially medicated ones. Read the application instructions on the shampoo bottle before washing your pet.


After you’ve washed your dog, rinse him thoroughly to ensure that he’s clean and free of soap residue. This will help prevent dry skin and other skin irritations if soap is left on the skin.

Apply Conditioner (Optional) and Rinse

Apply conditioner after bathing your dog. The conditioner will help restore moisture to your pet’s coat after it has been stripped away by soap or shampoo during their bath.

Rinse thoroughly after applying conditioner. Just like when you’re washing dishes, you need to rinse until there are no more suds left to get rid of all traces of soap or shampoo on your pet’s coat.

Clean Their Face

The face is a sensitive area for your dog, so wash it with care. Bathe your dog’s face last to avoid water getting into her ears or mouth. Water in the ears can cause ear infections, and water in the mouth can make your dog swallow shampoo, which could lead to an upset stomach.

Fill a bowl or bucket with warm water and add a few drops of mild shampoo. Mix the shampoo into the water until it forms a lather. Place your dog in front of you with your dog’s head facing away from you, and gently wet her face with your hand, washcloth, squeeze bottle, or pitcher of water.

Use one hand to hold her head steady and work the water through the coat while using the other hand to gently clean her face with the cloth. Rinse well with a squeeze bottle or wet sponge, making sure to avoid water in their ears, eyes, and nose. Use your hands to clean and rinse under the folds and in crevices.

Clip Their Nails

Bath time is a great time to trim your dog’s nails. Not only does the water soften your dog’s nails but they are already in a relaxed setting. However, if your dog moves around a lot during their bath, it may not be a good time to clip their nails.

Apply Detangling Spray (Optional)

Detangling sprays can be used to remove mats and make combing your dog’s coat easier after their bath. Just spray it liberally over the coat and let it sit for about 5 minutes. The spray helps loosen the mats before brushing.


Puppy getting dried off after bath

It’s important that you don’t leave any water on your dog’s coat after his bath because this can promote the growth of bacteria and yeast infections in his ears and skin folds, such as under his tail or around his neck. Here are some tips for drying your dog:

  • Use a towel that’s made especially for dogs. These towels are made of material that won’t irritate their skin, and they’re thicker than conventional bath towels, so you can absorb more water easily.
  • Start at the head and work your way down the body, squeeze the water from their coat gently while being careful not to miss any spots. Avoid getting water into their ears, eyes, or nose.
  • Once they’re mostly dry, use a hair dryer in a cool setting if necessary. The hair dryer will help remove any remaining water droplets accumulated in the fur during bathing.
  • You can make bath time more enjoyable by putting the towel in the dryer, so it is warm and cozy when you use it.

Brush Again

Once your dog is clean and dry, it’s time to once again brush them. One last brush removes any mats and tangles you may have missed. Over time, you may learn how to dry and brush at the same time.


Reward your dog during and after a bath. If your pup doesn’t like getting wet, don’t punish him for acting up during his bathtime. Instead, reward him for being good. Make sure he gets plenty of treats and affection after his bath so that he knows that being clean is fun.

How to Make Dogs Like Baths

Puppy getting paws cleaned during bath

If you’re a dog owner, you’ve probably encountered this problem: Your dog hates baths. Maybe he runs away when he sees the bathtub, or he’s just not a fan of getting wet or sudsy. Whatever her reason for hating baths, it can be difficult to get your dog clean when he despises being in the tub.

Here are some tips for helping her feel better about getting wet.

Waterless Bathing

Waterless bathing is a great way to keep your dog clean. It’s important to note that waterless baths are not a substitute for regular grooming and brushing, as they don’t remove tangles or mats. However, they do offer an excellent way to keep your dog clean in between more thorough grooming sessions or if a regular bath is not possible.

Dry shampoo works by absorbing excess oil from your dog’s coat, leaving them looking clean and smelling fresh. This product comes in several forms, including as a spray, powder, or foam, so there’s something for every type of dog owner on the market today.

Use a Rubber Mat

The first step is to put down a rubber mat or some newspapers in the bathroom so that there’s something for your pup to stand on while you wash him. This will help prevent slipping and injuries caused by slippery floors, but it also makes it easier for him to tolerate getting wet when he doesn’t want to be wet.

Skip the Faucet and Showerhead

If your dog is afraid of water coming out of a faucet or shower head, you can use a drip system that slowly releases small amounts of water over time (and doesn’t startle). This can help your dog become comfortable with water before moving on to more advanced techniques like brushing or massaging shampoo into his coat with your hands.

Use Treats as Rewards

If you have tried everything else, but your dog still isn’t having fun with their baths, try using treats as rewards when they do something good during bathing time (like sitting still). You can also use treats while drying off after bathing so that they associate dry fur with treats instead of discomfort from being wet too long.

When to Visit a Professional Groomer

Dog getting groomed by professional groomer

If you’re not comfortable using shampoo on your dog or don’t have the time or patience to do it yourself, then bring your dog in for professional grooming. If you’re not sure how to tell if your dog needs professional grooming, here are some signs:

  • Your dog has an underlying medical condition that requires more frequent bathing than usual (e.g., allergies) or a medicated shampoo soak
  • Your dog has skin conditions like fleas
  • Your dog has heavy matting
  • You’re unable to bathe your pet safely due to physical limitations

Make an appointment with your local Wilco groom shop to give your pup’s the best “spaw” day.

Pamper Your Pet at Wilco Farm Stores

Make sure you visit your local Wilco Farm Stores today and check out our wide selection of dog bathing supplies, completely free of harmful chemicals. We have everything you need to wash, shampoo, and dry your furry and muddy friend or you can leave the washing up to us!