How to Wash a Dog for the First Time

Medium
20 - 40 Minutes
1 Month

Introduction

Whether you’re giving your puppy his first bath ever or introducing an adult dog to proper bathing, the first time can be a little scary. Not all dogs enjoy being wet and covered in some kind of soapy substance, but since bathing is good for a dog’s health, it’s important that the first experience is a good one. Putting a little bit of extra care in this first impression of bath time can mean the difference between a dog that hates baths and a dog that gets excited whenever you get the water running.

Dog's Perspective

Water faucets can be noisy, water can be cold, and shampoo can smell funny. Baths may not be your dog’s favorite activity in the world, especially if he’s confined to the tub. It’s your job to make bath time fun, exciting, and a little more bearable so that your dog doesn’t find it necessary to leap out and cause havoc.

The Outside Method

Effective
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Shampoo
Step
1
Get your supplies prepared
You will want to have your shampoo and any wash cloths or other objects on hand, as you’ll be washing your dog outdoors.
Step
2
Fill an outside pool or tub
Some people prefer to use a sort of steel tub to give their dogs a bath, but you can just as easily use a plastic kiddie pool in a pinch. Whatever you decide to use, fill it up with some warm water that is not too hot and not too cold.
Step
3
Introduce your dog to the water
If your dog has never been near the water, it may take some convincing. Use treats or a toy to coax him into the pool with some assistance, if necessary. Make the water an exciting thing by associating it with good rewards, but try not to do things like splash or make too many waves if he is fearful. Keep things calm and relaxed.
Step
4
Rinse and shampoo
Use a cup full of warm water, or a hose if you can control the temperature, to gently rinse your dog off. Once he’s rinsed, apply the shampoo and give him a nice rub down in all the areas that need cleaning, being careful of his eyes, ears, and nose. Make sure to use dog or puppy-safe shampoo.
Step
5
Rinse and play
Once he’s been shampooed, rinse your dog off once again to get rid of any remaining suds. Then you can turn bath time into play time by using toys or other items that your dog enjoys and incorporating play with the water. Just keep an eye out for any patches of dirt or mud if your play carries on out into the yard. Allow your dog to air-dry, if possible.
Recommend grooming method?

The Inside Method

Effective
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Shampoo
Towel
Step
1
Fill the tub with warm water
The bathtub should be filled before your dog is brought in to avoid causing too much alarm or noise. Fill the tub up just enough to cover his paws and a bit of his legs, but shallow enough that he can stand and walk around without issue.
Step
2
Place treats throughout
Place small treats along the edge of the tub for your puppy to snack on while you get him rinsed off and adjusted to the water. If the treats are tasty enough, they’ll be much more interesting than the feeling of the water and you won’t have to worry about him being too scared.
Step
3
Shampoo quickly
Use dog-safe shampoo to quickly lather and wash all the bits of your dog that need cleaning. Pay special attention to any wrinkles or hard to reach areas such as under the tail, the groin, behind the ears, and along the belly.
Step
4
Simple rinse
Use the showerhead or a cup of water to rinse the shampoo off of your dog’s fur, remembering to rinse off the areas underneath him as well. Avoid getting water into the ears or nose as this can be irritating and a little scary for a pup who is not used to bathing.
Step
5
Dry and reward
Remove him from the tub and give your pup a pat down with a towel to dry him and remove moisture from his fur. Try not to do any excessive rubbing with the towel, as this can irritate sensitive skin, especially in smaller puppies or hairless breeds. Once he’s dry, offer your dog more treats as a form of reward, ending the whole ordeal on a good note.
Recommend grooming method?

Caution & Considerations

  • Always be cautious about your dog’s eyes and ears when giving him a bath. These areas are especially sensitive and can cause a lot of irritation if too much water or shampoo gets into them. If this happens, rinse the area with a little bit of water in order to flush the shampoo out.
  • If your dog seems especially stressed or fearful, it might be a good idea to keep the bath as short as possible in order to keep the amount of stress to a minimum.
  • A leash may come in handy if your dog or puppy is especially capable of leaping out of the tub, indoors or outdoors. 
  • Have a helper or a family member assist with your dog’s first bath if possible, as one person can focus on rewards and affection while the other gets the actual washing done. 
  • Try using dog toys that are specifically made for the water to encourage your dog to have fun during bath time. It may get you a little messier, but the positive reinforcement is worth the trouble.
  • Remember to dry your dog well after a bath to prevent any slipping and sliding along the floor.

Conclusion

Unfortunately for Fido, baths are a necessary part of proper dog ownership. Luckily, it doesn’t have to be such a struggle and can be an opportunity for a new type of play or relaxation with enough reinforcement. Keep bath time a fun affair by never being rough or aggressive with your pup while you give him a wash and he’ll be much more likely to come running whenever you get the water running!

Success Stories and Grooming Questions

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