How to Bathe Your Puppy

Three Methods:Getting Ready to Bathe Your PuppyWashing and Drying Your PuppyAssessing Whether Your Puppy Needs a Bath

A wet sudsy puppy is very cute to us, but your puppy may feel uncomfortable the first time it has a bath. Your puppy won't have a clue why it's being doused in water and may well be frightened or bewildered, so you need to make the process as calm as possible for them. As well as making sure your puppy feels reassured, you also need to pay attention to keeping it comfortable and using the appropriate products. If you do this, you will be a left with a clean fresh puppy who is happy to repeat the experience in the future.

Method 1
Getting Ready to Bathe Your Puppy

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    Comb out your puppy's coat. Before getting puppy wet, comb out any tangles or knots. Depending on the coat type, use a wide toothed comb (for coarse, wiry coats) or a fine toothed comb (for soft silky coats) and thoroughly brush your puppy's coat through. Pay particular attention to areas where fur rubs against itself, such as behind the ears and in the armpits or groin.
    • Gently tease out any knots. If they are too firmly knitted together, try to get the comb between the knot and the skin, and then carefully trim the knotted fur with scissors, cutting above the comb, away from the skin.
    • If your puppy is wriggly, do not attempt to do this by yourself. If the puppy moves at the wrong moment you could cut its skin. Instead, wait until a friend can hold your puppy steady, so you have both hands free to localize the knot and trim it off safely.[1]
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    Put on clothes that you can get wet. Even a small puppy can make you surprisingly wet when he or she shakes, so you may wish to change into old clothes or wear a waterproof apron.
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    Decide where you are going to wash the puppy. To bath a large breed puppy indoors, the bathroom is the best place, because it is the most waterproof room. However, a small puppy will do just fine in the sink in the kitchen or bathroom.
    • If the weather is very warm, you have the option to bath your puppy outdoor in a tub or baby bath. It needs to be very hot weather before you use unheated water (such as that supplied from a garden hose) on a young puppy, as puppies are prone to chilling easily.
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    Choose a nice, mild shampoo made for dogs. Do not get one that only smells nice. It should smell nice and have something else to offer like moisturizing effects, or promoting coat shine.
    • Never use human shampoo on your puppy. Dog skin is actually much more delicate than human skin and using shampoo made for humans is too harsh and the wrong pH.
    • If in doubt what sort of shampoo to use, an oatmeal dog shampoo is a reasonable choice since these are gentle and moisturizing.[2]
    • Detanglers and conditioners can be used on puppies that have medium to long hair.[3]
    • If you do not know which kind of shampoo to get, or are concerned that your puppy has very sensitive skin, consult with your vet about which brand of shampoo he or she would recommend.
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    Prepare the area. Be it a sink or a tub, place a slip proof mat at the bottom so your puppy feels secure and isn't slipping around, which may alarm it.
    • You will also want to get out a few towels and your dog shampoo. Put them in arms reach to where you will be bathing your puppy.
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    Fill the tub without your puppy in it. Run the taps until the water is pleasantly warm, around the temperature you would happily bath a baby in. If in doubt, do the 'elbow' test, where you dip your elbow in the water to see if the temperature feels slightly warmer than your skin. Judge whether the water is too cold or too hot and adjust the temperature before you put your pup in.[4]
    • Fill the tub to either 4 -5 inches (for a large breed puppy) or alternatively for small puppies, just below their elbows. This is so they don't feel as though they are drowning, as most will happily paddle in this depth of water.[5]
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    Concentrate on reassuring your puppy, keeping your voice light and happy. Constantly tell him or her how clever they are. Just keep in mind that the first bath can be a scary time for your puppy, so remember to be as gentle as possible with all you do.[6] Pet your puppy throughout the whole process, keeping your dog calm and happy.

Method 2
Washing and Drying Your Puppy

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    Put your puppy in the tub. Talk soothingly to your pup and stroke him or her encouragingly. Your puppy may whine or act nervous, that is because some puppies really don’t like getting wet. The earlier you begin washing your puppy in her life, the more he or she will tolerate baths.[7]
    • Pet your puppy and speak calmly to him or her throughout the whole bathing process. Doing this will soothe it and will keep it from splashing around as much.
    • Try to make a game out of bathing your puppy. If it is wary about being put in the water, use your hand as a scoop and dribble some water over the puppy's back. Scoop more water and wet it's paws, so the water is less of a shock when you lower the pup in.
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    Gradually get your puppy wet. While continuing to pet your puppy with one hand, you should start to get its head and neck wet. Use a plastic beaker and scoop water over your pup's body, stroking it in between scoopfuls. Work in this way to completely wet the dog's coat.[8]
    • Try to avoid getting water into your pup’s eyes.
    • The dog should be completely wet before you put the shampoo on.
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    Suds your pup up. Slowly work about a dime’s worth of shampoo into your puppy's fur. Make sure you get every inch of covered, his or her paws need to be washed just as much as the neck.
    • Don't forget to pay attention to every inch of the dog, including armpits, under the tail, and the groin.
    • Your puppy should look like a cuter, smaller version of the abominable snowman by the time you’re done.[9]
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    Wash your puppy's face separately. You should use a washcloth dipped into lukewarm water to wash your puppy’s face. Gently rub the face with the washcloth, avoiding the eyes as much as possible.
    • It may be difficult to get your pup's face washed. Be patient and wait until your puppy is relatively calm before attempting to get their cute little face clean.
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    Rinse your puppy, thoroughly washing out the shampoo suds. Drain the soapy water and begin rinsing with clean water. Rinsing is one of the most important parts of the bathing experience.
    • You will have to rinse your puppy more than once. Pour water over your pup until no suds are left in the fur. You want to make sure to get all of the soap because any shampoo that is left over could cause skin irritation.
    • Never leave the dog in the sink or bath while the taps are running. To do so is frightening for the puppy and there is a risk of scalding if the puppy gets underneath the hot tap. Instead, lift the puppy out of the sink or tub while you are refilling it, wrapping the pup up in a towel to keep it warm. Your towel will get covered in soap, and you will need another to actually dry the dog, but your pup will stay warm.
    • If your pup is very wrinkly or has a long coat, be extra attentive when it comes to rinsing out all of the shampoo.[10]
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    Dry your pup. Remove the puppy from the tub and wrap it in a clean, dry towel. Rough dry using the towel. You can also use a blow dryer set on a low, cool setting after you have used a towel.[11] Hold the dryer at least 12 inches from the puppy. Keep the dryer moving so that if by any chance it is too hot, it is not focused on one spot and causes a burn.
    • If you are bathing your puppy outside on a hot day, you can let your pup shake and run around to get dry.
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    Give your pup some love. After the whole bathing experience, it is really important that you tell your puppy how good a dog it is. You may also want to reward it with a favorite puppy treat to reinforce good behavior.[12]

Method 3
Assessing Whether Your Puppy Needs a Bath

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    Figure out if your puppy has had a bath recently. A reasonable interval between baths is one month, although it is unlikely you will dry the skin out if you use a mild dog shampoo and bathe it once every two weeks. Dog skin is relatively unsophisticated and if you wash it too often, there is a risk of stripping out the beneficial oils that condition its skin and keep its coat soft.[13]
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    Look for dry skin on your dog. Signs of dry skin include flakes of dandruff and a dull, harsh feeling coat. If they do have dry skin, bath your dog less frequently. [14]
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    Determine whether your puppy has rolled in something. Regardless of when you last bathed your puppy, you will have times when you need to wash immediately. Don't hesitate to give your puppy a good wash if it is abnormally smelly or has gotten overly dirty.


  • If your puppy was sprayed by a skunk, you will need to wash it in a very specific way in order to get the smell out.

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