Bathing a Puppy – Do’s and Don’ts

Puppy in bath isolated on whiteImage by mikumistock @ –they’re fuzzy piles of energy, and it’s no secret that they seem to have a talent for getting as messy as possible! Although most puppy parents would love for their furry little charges to stay clean and dry, when it comes to puppy play, that’s often just wishful thinking.

Related: The Top 5 Best Puppy Shampoos

What every puppy owner needs to learn is how to bath that wiggly little creature with a minimum of fuss and fight. Let’s take a look at how you can transform your muddy-pawed pooch into a squeaky clean pup…until tomorrow, anyways!

Be Paw-pared

There’s nothing worse than trying to figure out where you put the dog shampoo once you already have a wet dog in the tub. When it’s bath time, get all your supplies ready beforehand. You’ll need a comb or brush (for long-haired pups), a tub or sink with non-slip footing, towels, mild and unscented puppy shampoo, and LOTS of tiny, super-tasty treats. (Keep all of this out of reach for now, though!)

Burn Some Energy

If your puppy’s been in their kennel for the past hour or two, you’re in for a surprise if you think they’re going to sit still in the bath. Play a game of fetch or ‘chase me’, go for a walk, or invite a doggie friend over for a play date to get their ‘puppy sillies’ out – or else you’re going to be chasing a damp, furry streak all over the house!

Start with a Comb-over

Before popping your pup into the tub, make sure that you take time to carefully brush out any tangles or mats in their fur – getting tangles wet only makes them worse! Now is also the time to start giving those treats – go at your pup’s pace and give them frequent tasty tidbits as you brush them, allowing them to develop a positive association with being groomed and handled.

Get ‘Em Wet!

If you’re able to, grab an extra set of hands to help you out. Their job? Puppy treat dispenser! Fill the tub or sink with an inch or two of warm (not hot) water and gently place your puppy in the bath, immediately giving your pup a reward. Allow your small furry friend a few minutes to investigate the water and the tub, gently restraining them; don’t forget to keep offering tasty treats often during the entire bath session to help teach your pup that bath time can be fun! Once they’re relaxed, wet their coat (using a small bucket or container can be less scary than a spray hose), and gently massage shampoo into their fur, down to their skin. Avoid getting water or suds in their eyes, ears, nose or mouth – ouch!

Big Finish

After you’re finished washing down your puppy, rinse off all the shampoo from their skin and coat and gently squeeze out any excess water from their fur. Lift your pooch out onto a towel or bathmat so they have secure footing, and massage their coat with towels to dry them off. Praise your pup for a job well done, and give them some more treats! If you’re going to be using a blow dryer, keep in mind that many puppies might find the noise scary – turn it on several feet away to allow your dog to get used to the noise, bring it slowly closer while feeding lots of treats, and keep it on a warm setting to keep your pup comfortable.
Regardless of how dirty your puppy may be, remember to always keep bath time fun and follow their lead – if they seem scared, panicked, or distressed at any point in time during a bath, stop and give them a break. Otherwise, splash on, dog lovers!