So how do I wash my dog at home?
Just like you wash yourself—with soap and water. But there’s a lot more to it than that. Like what is the best way to bathe them inside? And how should you wash an anxious dog at home? And do you really need to groom your dog at all?
Houses with dogs are dirtier than houses without pets, so grooming your dog gives you a cleaner home. But professional grooming services can get expensive so learning how to bathe a dog at home is a money-saver and just a useful skill to have.
Why should I wash my dog?
Dogs can get anxiety during bath time. So washing them in the house can be a pain, making a lot of people avoid bathing their pet altogether.
But dogs can get dirty. Dewhirst, a professor of oral medicine at Harvard, says ”if you’re licked by a dog, and someone were to take a Q-tip five hours later and rub that spot, they could recover over 50 different species of dog-mouth bacteria.” Being exposed to different microbes can be a good thing but it’s not just for you that you wash your dog: it’s for your dog. It’s good for your dog’s health to bathe him, stopping the development of nasty fungal and bacterial conditions, especially skin problems.
You just need to get them enjoying it…
How to prepare your dog for a bath
One major problem with bathing dogs is that they don’t enjoy it. So make it as pleasurable as possible for your dog. Before every bath, take some time with your dog and give them some proper petting and attention. Treat it like a spa day for your pooch.
For the ultimate dog pampering experience at home:
– Stroke its ears, chin and neck (all sensitive spots)
– Rub its back.
– Run its tail through your fingers
– Roll it over on its back for a belly-rub.
Your dog will be purring after that. Because the more your dog enjoys the experience, the more you can wash it and the better it’ll be for your dog’s hygiene. After your dog has been put in pure bliss, you can get to the dog bathing.
How to Wash My Dog at Home (Outside or Inside): Step-by-Step
Just like in dog-grooming salons, the bathing comes before the dry-grooming. It makes everything a lot nicer and cleaner. So after making your dog nice and relaxed…
1. Get your things ready
The things you need for bath time:
(1) a tub (an indoor bathtub or outdoor dog bath tub/inflatable swimming pool),
(2) a non-slip mat,
(3) two jugs,
(4) a hose / warm water,
(5) one or two towels,
(6) a sponge and
(7) some special-dog shampoo. Don’t use normal shampoo: the pH is not right for dogs, leaving their skin dry.
2. Put the non-slip mat in the tub. Heat the water and pour into jugs
Prepare the bath with the mat and the jugs with the water. Even if using a hose outside, still fill the jugs before pouring the water over your dog. You want the dog bath temperature to be tepid, so don’t make the water too hot either (otherwise you might burn them.)
3. Get your dog in the tub
Lift it up (if it lets you) and place it gently into the tub. If you’re dealing with a large pup, consider washing them outside. Try to keep your dog inside the bathtub but if your dog finds it too stressful being kept inside, forget about it. Dogs don’t like to feel enclosed.
4. Take the jug and pour warm water over your pooch
Wet your dog’s coat and repeat until fully wet. Pet your dog while you bathe it and make sure it feels comfortable.
5. Mix canine shampoo with the second jug of warm water
Create the shampoo-solution to bathe your dog with. Follow the instructions on the bottle. Don’t use dish-soap or anything other than proper, special-use doggy shampoo.
6. Rub it through your dog’s fur
Dip the sponge in the shampoo. Use the shampoo sponge or your fingers to deep clean your dog’s fur and make sure you get rid of all the oil. Just like you do with your hair. Focus on behind the legs, belly and back and move in gentle round strokes with your fingers and sponge.
7. Clean under their tail
Clean the tail by dipping the sponge into shampoo mix. Be gentle with this—it’s a part of its spine.
8. Do the head, neck and face
Move onto the more sensitive areas but be careful here – dogs have sensitive eyes. For how to wash a dog’s face: go slow and don’t get any water in its ears in case of unexpected ear infection. Make sure you don’t use too much shampoo either. You can use dog face wipes if you find it easier to clean its face that way.
Take the first jug with some normal water and wash all the shampoo off your dog’s coat.
10. Rinse a second time
Rinse again to make sure all the shampoo is off. Otherwise it might annoy its skin for the rest of the day.
11. Dry your dog off (their favorite part)
For dogs, getting dried is like getting a pet from a blanket. If your dog’s coat has short fur, just use a towel like normal. For longer fur, use a towel with a hair dryer to finish. Use a low heat at a distance from your dog’s fur so it doesn’t burn them. Touch the areas you are heating so you know if it’s getting too hot.
12. Give your dog a treat as a reward
Make it a positive experience for your dog so it starts to love bath time and wants to come back for the next one.
After that you can move onto any more grooming you want to do: cutting toe-nails, or trimming and brushing any overgrown fur. Brush your dog with a proper comb too. And remember to clean their ears with a wipe—they can get very dirty.
Remember: keep you (and the dog) relaxed
Most dogs hate being bathed. So your dog might jump out a couple of times. Don’t worry though. Just comfort your dog throughout the whole process (or bribe them with treats) and don’t force them to stay in that tub if they get stressed. If you can’t even keep them still in the bathtub, try dry shampoo for dogs—it can keep them flea-free and smelling amazing even without the water. If you still struggle to wash your dog, take your dog to a certified veterinarian for advice and to find someone who specializes in bathing animals.
Keeping your dog clean is hard when they’re such messy things. Having a set washing routine for your dog will make them more comfortable with the bathing process though. And keep them cleaner for longer.
And the best thing? They’ll be getting 10x the pets when they don’t smell.
For more guides on dog training techniques and how to deal with problems on dog behavior (like chewing), check out Secrets to Dog Training. It’s the complete guide for dog ownership and is designed to speed up your dog’s learning.