large brown dog in the bath, wet and soapy while someone is cleaning him

Tips for Bathing Your Dog at Home

It’s one of the great struggles of pet care, but an inevitable necessity. That moment when your dog comes home muddy or stinky and is in need of a bath. While there are some great groomers available, many pet owners choose to save money and bathe their pups at home. Are you ready to take on this ‘adventure’? Check out these tips for bathing your dog at home!

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Yesterday I had quite the ‘incident’ here around the house. I completely accept responsibility for what happened. After all, even the most conscientious pet owners will overlook a detail at one time or another… Luckily, yesterday’s mishap was one that ended with some puppy bath time rather than a sick/hurt dog and a trip to the vet.

dog, dog bath, doggy bath time, puppy bath time, bath time

I was working on one of my many craft projects, working on sorting out the projects I have been planning for the Christmas season. I generally have most of my Christmas decorations ready to go, but with the new house, I had the realization that there were a few things I wanted to add to this year’s décor. After painting, I had remembered to put the paint all away where little paws wouldn’t get into it, however, I had missed one important step: I left the container of dirty paintbrush water in the middle of the dining room table.

Most people would think that would be safe. After all, both of my dogs are well trained and they know better than to touch something on the table, right? This would be true, except that it fails to account for one of the big troublemakers in this house – Jinx aka The Terrorist. You see, when things get crazy in our house and stuff is broken or any time that messes are made, this cat is somehow in the middle of it… Every time. 

Sure enough, I soon heard the unmistakeable sound of the container full of dirty paint water being knocked over by the cat. There was enough water that it proceeded to make its way along the table (getting Jinx wet in the process, of course) and over the edge onto Indy (who was obviously standing or laying on that side of the able at the time).

So, here’s Indy – suddenly showered in dirty paintbrush water… What does he do? He apparently draws some psychotic energy from the water and full body tackles Daviana, taking her out in the puddle of paint water completely soaking them both. This all plays out right in front of my eyes as I’m rounding the corner to see what’s happening but too far away to prevent it.

As if two large dogs SOAKED in dirty paint water wasn’t bad enough, the dogs then look up and see me standing in front of them. Both of them are super hyper-energized by this magical energy creating paint water by this point and take off directly at me, tackling me in their excitement. The result? The cat, both dogs and myself all completely covered in dirty paintbrush water, sitting in a puddle in the middle of my dining room…. It was an EPIC hump day, let me tell you!

The point of sharing that story? First, so that you can all enjoy a good laugh because I know I am. I mean, if you can’t laugh at yourself then what fun is life really? I spend A LOT of time laughing at myself and the many antics that occur in this zoo that I call a house…  Second, it is the perfect lead into today’s blog topic!

Check Out These 6 Tips For Bathing Your Dog At Home Quickly And Easily:

As I mentioned to start, you could always bring your dogs to the local groomer. Unfortunately, the cost of doing this can add up quickly, especially if you have troublemakers like I do! I honestly believe Daviana is magnetically attracted to mud puddles. Despite being over 10  years old, she can find them anywhere we go and she instantly turns into a little puppy playing in the mess. 

Before we get into the tips, I do want to take the time to mention that you shouldn’t bathe your dog too often. The average dog doesn’t need to be bathed more than once a month, even less for those with shorter coats like Beagles and those dogs that live in a generally ‘clean’ setting like in a condo as opposed to running around all day outdoors in the country. You should also cut back on the number of baths for dogs that have water-repellent coats such as Golden Retrievers and dogs with thicker double coats such as Malamutes as this will allow you to preserve the natural oils in their coats.

#1. Always Brush Your Dog First

If your dog’s hair is matted, a bath is only going to set the matte making it even harder to remove. The matte also holds onto water which can irritate your dog’s skin over time. Therefore, this step isn’t just a suggestion – It’s necessary in order to avoid any unnecessary pain or suffering during the process! A good brush prior to bathing will remove the dead hair and leave you with a beautiful coat to clean up. Take the time to check out the different brush types available and select the best option for your dog! 

#2. Ensure You Have Everything You Need

There is nothing worse than having a wet dog in front of you and reaching for the pet shampoo only to find that there’s nothing left in the bottle. Avoid this situation by taking the time to round up everything you are going to need BEFORE getting your dog into the bath. Purchase a good quality dog shampoo that fits your needs. You may need something specific for your situation, such as a hot spot shampoo if you are dealing with itching, or a flea shampoo if you are currently dealing with those little pests. For regular ‘they got into something and made a mess’ bathing I use Burt’s Bees Oatmeal Shampoo and Conditioner which leaves our dogs with such soft, nice smelling fur! You also want to make sure your towels are a short distance away, so you can reach them when you’ve got a wet pup ready to get out of the bath.

#3. Create A Non-Slip Surface To Easy Anxiety

If your dog doesn’t feel like they are secure while standing in your tub or shower it can cause a great deal of unnecessary anxiety. Therefore, it is important to provide them with a surface that puts them at ease both for their mental well-being as well as to make the process easier for you in the long run. Use a non-slip rubber mat, or, if there isn’t one available, place a towel on the bottom of the tub.

large brown dog in the bath, wet and soapy while someone is cleaning him with the title 6 quick and easy tips for bathing your dog at home#4. Protect Your Dog’s Eyes And Ears

Dogs are very sensitive when it comes to their eyes and ears. Be very careful not to spray water directly into your pup’s eyes or to get shampoo into them as this will irritate them. Unlike with a human, you can’t reason with them in order to explain to them the process of flushing them clean, which can lead to serious distress. It’s also important to note that water in your dog’s ears can cause long-term health problems and complications. If he/she will let you, place a cotton ball in each ear during bath time and remove it immediately when you are finished. If not, be very careful not to spray water into his/her ears and take the time to dry the area as much as possible when you are done. 

#5. Avoid Using The Hot Hair Dryer

While the hair dryer may seem like the easy solution to drying your dog off quickly and efficiently, it’s not that simple. The sound of the hair dryer can be incredibly frightening for many dogs causing unnecessary anxiety and distress.

If you know that your dog is comfortable with the sound from past experiences, always turn down the heat during use. Your dog’s skin is incredibly sensitive and a hot hair dryer can cause significant burns. While many groomers do use a dryer system, these are regularly set at room temperature for this very reason. Their safety and well-being are more important than speeding up the drying process. Drying your dog off with a towel is safer, plus it’s a chance to give your pup some more hands-on attention!

#6. Always Reward Your Dog When Finished

When all is said and done, and bath time is over, your dog deserves a reward! This will help to reinforce a positive feeling in relation to the process of bath time. This doesn’t have to be a food related treat (although most dogs aren’t going to turn one down). Rewards can come in the form of playtime with his/her favourite toy or even some extra love and affection. This is your opportunity to make sure that bath time is a fun time!

Do you have any fun bath time stories? Does your pup love or hate bath time? Share your own tips for bathing your dog at home for other dog owners in the comments below!  

40 thoughts on “Tips for Bathing Your Dog at Home”

    1. I’ve had MANY disasters washing the pups since I first brought Daviana home haha! Learn from experience, although hopefully this will mean others can learn from my experience!

    1. Ours see a groomer every 2-3 months or so, or after specific situations… for example I always make an appt there right after camping because they swim in the lake and stink, and I leave it up to her to get all the stink out hahaha – She’s great with them!

  1. This was adorable! What a story about your dogs getting covered in paint ? I can’t wait until I can get dogs myself 😀

    Kirsty x

  2. Your dogs are so cute! Thankfully my dog is a lot smaller, she’s a mini yorkie so bathtime is quite easy but I know the struggles of washing big dogs, my Dad’s labrador HATED being bathed, took 3 of us & I usually ended up fully clothed in the shower with him!

  3. I don’t own dogs myself but your pups sound absolutely adorable, I’m sure I’ll remember these tips once I do own my own little pup.

    Thank you for sharing xx

  4. Aw, your pups are so cute! I know all too well the stress of having to try and wash a suddenly unexpectedly dirty dog – my retriever loves to roll in fox poo in summer when I’m not looking! Your mention of a non-slip mat is a really good idea that I hadn’t though of, actually. Dig is fine in the tub, but I’m sure it would make him feel that little bit more safe anyway, so thanks for the tip! x

    1. It really does help with that extra step of comfort. Daviana LOVES bath time but I can notice the difference since we started making sure the rubber mat was in place for her.

    1. I hope they help! Indiana used to be nearly impossible to bathe so I definitely know what its like to deal with the disaster experience lol

  5. Aw, your pups are so cute and these are some great tips!! Every time I have to bathe my Toby it turns in to an Olympic event, he hates it and I end up having more of a bath than he does!

    1. I still end up having just as much of a bath but for different reasons now lol They both try to cuddle me while getting bathed, and Daviana wants me to play lol

  6. That story was great! I could imagine the chaos!! It definitely had me laughing out loud! I love the pic of your dogs in their towels! So darn cute! We used to have a Rottweiler (he’s passed away now) but he was always so good until it came to bathtime. He would not go into the bathroom. We couldn’t drag him in bc he would put up a fight. We literally had to pick up this huge dog and carry him into the tub to give him a bath. And still the entire time would be a fight. We also tried giving him a bath with the hose outside. Yup, same reaction. He just did not like water. Bathtime was always a struggle for us!

    1. It definitely was chaos! That sounds like what bath time used to be like with Indiana before he started warming up to the idea this year

    1. Most pups come around in time with the right positive reinforcement – Indiana will actually get into the tub now, whereas before he’d hide behind the nearest piece of furniture lol

  7. They are such cute dogs!! I bathed my cats once and they really did not like it, we thought do it when they’re kittens and get them used to it but nope, really didn’t like it!

    Vikki |

    1. Yes, sometimes there are emergencies (like the story I started this with… although I don’t care to admit how often things like that happen around here hahaha)

    1. Mine are definitely not pups (one is 5 and one is 9) but they sure act like they are! I think they missed the memo that they grew up…

  8. Great tips that I’ve actually never even thought about doing like brushing first and providing nonslip surface! Cute pups!

    1. My dogs are half German Shepherd, which means they shed A LOT.. Shedding season is twice a year, for 6 months at a time haha!
      I learned the brushing first part the hard way lol

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