How to Bathe and Groom Your Dog

As a competent and loving dog owner, it is up to you to bathe your dog. Over time, your dog can start to smell because he has accumulated dirt & grime on his coat. When you wash your dog regularly, it will remove loose fur and debris, which will improve the appearance of his fur.

How often you bathe your dog would depend on them. If your dog doesn’t play outside often, they won’t get dirty; therefore, they won’t need to be bathed as often as dogs who spend their days digging and playing outside. If you wash your dog too often, it can dry out his skin and coat, which can cause issues. You should only bathe your dog if he smells or if he is dirty.

If you are new to owning a pet, you will need to know how to bathe and groom your dog and also the best products to use.

Dog Shampoo

When bathing your dog, you should NOT use human shampoo. A dog’s skin is more sensitive than a human’s, and their pH is different; therefore, you should only use a shampoo that was designed for dogs. Your vet can recommend a great shampoo, and there are plenty of options at your local pet supply store. To be on the safe side, you should test the shampoo on a small area to be sure that it won’t cause any irritation to your pet’s skin. If your dog has long fur, you should consider using a conditioner after shampooing. This will make it easier to brush him after his bath.

Best Place To Bathe Your Dog

Where you bathe your dog would depend on his size and whether or not he likes water.

  • Outdoors: If it is warm outside, you can bathe your dog outside. This is best for dogs that are very large because you won’t need to lift him in and out of the tub. It is also best if your dog tries to run out of the tub. To bathe your dog outside, you will need a leash, a garden hose, and a bucket of water. Unless it is really hot out, you will need to put warm water in the bucket so that it isn’t too cold. If you have ever taken a cold shower, you know how miserable it is. Bathing your dog with cold water on a chilly day will be just as miserable for him. If you don’t want to put your dog on a leash for outdoor bathing and he is cooperative, you can buy a plastic kiddie pool for bath time. These pools are large enough to bathe big dogs, and you won’t need to worry about a mess in the bathroom.
  • Sink or bathtub: If you have a small dog, you can bathe him right in the kitchen sink. This is convenient because you won’t need to bend over, and you will have the sprayer to rinse your dog. For larger dogs, you will need to use the bathtub. Be sure to put a non-slip mat down, because it will make your dog more comfortable. If he is sliding around the floor of the tub, he can get nervous.

Bathing Your Dog

Once you have chosen a shampoo and you have selected the best area to bathe your dog, it is time to start. You should follow the steps listed below while remaining calm and patient. If your dog senses aggravation or nervousness, he won’t be very cooperative.

  • Step 1: Brush your dog: Before putting your dog in the tub, you should first brush him. This will allow you to remove any knots or mats from his fur. Washing knots and mats is useless because the shampoo and conditioner probably won’t penetrate the knots.
  • Step 2: Wet your dog: If your dog doesn’t mind, you can use the hose or sprayer to wet him down. Be sure to wet your dog’s fur all the way to the skin, starting in the neck and chest area and move down to the tail. Make sure that the water pressure isn’t too strong because it can be painful, causing your dog to want to run. When wetting your dog’s head and face, it is best to use a washcloth. This will keep the water from getting in his eyes and ears, which will help him remain calm.
  • Step 3: Apply shampoo: When your dog is completely wet, apply the shampoo. Start with his chest area, and they gradually move to the other parts of his body. Make sure to get under his body and his tail.
  • Step 4: Massage: Once you have applied the shampoo, massage it into his fur. This will help keep him calm, and it will make his bath more enjoyable. Certain dog shampoos require you to leave it on for three minutes; therefore, you will need to continue to massage him for the full three minutes. If you don’t do this, he will become agitated and try to run away.
  • Rinse: After shampooing your dog, make sure that you rinse his fur thoroughly. If you leave the shampoo in his fur, it will cause itching and irritation when it dries.
  • Conditioner: Apply the conditioner all over your dog’s body. Let it sit for a few minutes before rinsing it out thoroughly.

Drying Your Dog

After your dog’s bath, you will need to dry him off. He is going to have the urge to shake the water; therefore, you should towel dry him first. After drying him a bit, give your dog a chance to shake out and then air dry. You should avoid using a hairdryer because it can burn your dog’s skin. If you must use one, be sure to set it on a cool or warm setting. The hot setting can be dangerous.


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When your dog is almost dry, you should comb out his fur. If you have a short-haired dog, this will be pretty easy. Long-haired dogs can be more difficult to brush, but it is very important that you do. This will help remove any excess fur that didn’t fall out during the bath, and he will look great.

Trimming Your Dog’s Fur

When your dog is dry and brushed, it is time to trim his fur. There are certain areas that need to be trimmed.

  • Around the eyes: If you have a long-haired dog, you should carefully trim the fur around his eyes to be sure that it doesn’t block his vision. Too much hair around the eyes can also cause irritation, so be sure to trim all of the fur.
  • Around the anus: You should keep the fur around your dog’s anus short to keep feces from getting trapped in the fur.
  • Around the chin and lower jaw: If the fur around your dog’s chin or lower jaw gets too long, it should be trimmed. Food can get trapped there, and he can develop an infection in his chin folds if this area is not trimmed up properly.
  • Mats and tangles: If you found mats and knots when you were brushing your dog, it is best just to cut them out. Trying to yank the tangles out will be painful for your dog. Cutting them is the easiest and safest way to remove them.

If your dog isn’t cooperative when it comes to trimming, you will be better off taking him to a groomer. The last thing that you want is to get too close to your dog’s eyes with a pair of scissors when he won’t sit still. Some dogs don’t like to be trimmed, and you can do serious harm if he won’t be still.


You need to keep your dog’s nails short to prevent them from growing into his foot. Cutting the nails can be dangerous because if you don’t do it properly, your dog’s nails will bleed. Most dog owners rely on the vet or the groomer to cut the nails. There are special nail clippers that you can buy to trim your dog’s nails safely. It is best to have your dog’s nails cut every few months.

Rewarding Your Dog

When you are don’t bathing your dog, it is important to reward him for doing a good job. You can give him a treat or a serving of his favorite wet dog food. Also, be sure to praise him for doing so well. When your dog sees that he will be rewarded and praised after his bath, he will cooperate with you the next time it is time to give him a bath.

Final Thoughts

Bathing your pet is essential in keeping her skin and fur healthy and looking great. It will also keep her smelling good. Nobody wants to curl up on the couch with a dog who stinks! If you bathe your dog correctly, it can be a great bonding experience for both of you!

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