How to Wash a Dog Properly

A clean dog makes for happier owners!
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Dogs usually don't mind getting dirty and staying that way. In fact, many dogs seem overjoyed when they find trash, rotting vegetation or dead critters to roll around in -- the smellier the better! Most dog owners, on the other hand, would rather not share their space with smelly or dirty companion animals. Washing a dog properly is crucial to helping your dog get and stay clean.

Step 1

Gather together the necessary tools and supplies before you start the bathing process. You'll at least need a mild dog shampoo, a dog comb, a bristle brush, washcloths and dry towels in the bathing area. You might also need dog conditioner, a timer and detangler, as well as a water pitcher if your shower doesn't have a detachable shower nozzle spray. Have some yummy dog treats on hand to reward him for good behavior.

Step 2

Remove your dog's everyday collar. If you must restrain your doggy during his bath, use a nylon leash clipped to a nylon collar. Don't get leather collars wet or they could shrink and become too tight for your dog's neck.

Step 3

Give your dog a good combing to remove mats, tangles and loose fur. This helps reduce the amount of hair your pooch sheds during his bath and helps prevent future tangles. Snip off stubborn mats with scissors.

Step 4

Place a rubber bath mat on the bottom of your tub to keep your dog from slipping. Gently put large cotton balls in his ears to keep water out of the eardrums. Carefully lift your dog into the bathtub.

Step 5

Wet your dog's fur with lukewarm water. Start at his head and move down toward his tail until his coat is totally saturated down to his skin. Wipe the fur around his eyes, muzzle, ears and nose with a clean, damp washcloth.

Step 6

Pour dog shampoo into your hand. Use about a quarter-sized dollop for smaller dogs, and a golf ball-sized dollop for a bigger one. Working from his head down to his tail, gently massage the shampoo into his fur with your fingertips. Make sure the shampoo suds go through all of his fur down to his skin.

Step 7

Rinse your dog with lukewarm water until it runs clear. Knead his fur with your hands to help remove shampoo suds. Repeat the shampoo and rinse process, if needed. Follow up with a moisturizing conditioner if your dog is prone to dry skin or tangled fur.

Step 8

Remove excess water from your dog's fur by gently rubbing or blotting his hair with a clean towel. Allow your dog to air dry or help the drying process along by using a blow dryer set on the coolest setting. Don't hold the dryer too close to his fur or you risk burning him or drying out his skin.

Step 9

Give him a post-bath grooming session with a bristle brush. If your doggy's fur is prone to tangles, mist his hair with a detangler spray before the final brushing. Brush your dog from his head to his tail.


  • Don't use human shampoo on your dog. Human shampoos dry out dog skin and can cause excessive irritation and scratching.

  • Make sure you rinse thoroughly because shampoo residue can cause dry skin and itching.

  • Don't forget to remove the cotton balls from his ears.


  • Bathe your dog only when he gets dirty or smelly, typically just once every one to three months. More frequent baths can strip the healthy oils from his skin and coat, leading to skin irritation, flaking and scratching.

  • Always give him yummy treats and praise him after his bath. This helps him associate bathing with good things.

Items You Will Need

  • Dog shampoo
  • Dog comb
  • Bristle brush
  • Washcloths
  • Towels
  • Dog conditioner, optional
  • Detangler, optional
  • Hair dryer, optional
  • Water pitcher
  • Dog treats
  • Nylon leash, optional
  • Nylon collar, optional
  • Scissors
  • Rubber bath mat
  • Cotton balls