How often should you wash your dog and how to do it correctly

Pooch got a pong? Learn how to clean dog ears, how to bathe your pup, and how to keep your furry friend clean.

Updated

 a little bulldog sitting on a grass

Keeping dogs clean is key to making sure they’re always in good health but washing a puppy doesn't always sound like the easiest experience! As long as you know how to do it properly and get your dog used to the water, bath time can be a great bonding activity. Follow our tips on how to bathe a dog to get started.

Wondering how to bathe a dog that doesn’t like water? Bring in a dog who does and let them teach your pup some new tricks!

How to bathe a dog

Learning how to wash a dog is important for every pet owner as it helps you prevent infection, disease, or discomfort from dirty or matted furr. 

  1. Brush your dog's hair to get rid of any matted areas.
  2. Use lukewarm water rather than hot and wash your dog with a dog-friendly shampoo, following the instructions on the bottle.
  3. Keep your dog calm - do not use force. If your dog is prone to urinating when stressed then follow our tips to clean your carpet after any accidents.
  4. Rinse the shampoo well, avoiding the eye area.
  5. Use a towel and air dry your dog - definitely don’t use hair dryers!

After learning how to wash your dog, you can reward them with a treat or some playtime so that they start to feel better about bath time.

How to clean dog ears

Just like people, dogs’ ears need to be cleaned regularly to stop wax from building up.

  1. Use an ear cleaner recommended by your veterinarian, along with cotton balls or swabs to clean the outer ear area. 
  2. Follow the directions on the bottle of your ear cleaner.
  3. Work slowly and gently - your dog may not be comfortable having their ears cleaned.
  4. Avoid inserting anything into your dog's ear canal.
  5. If your dog shows signs of anxiety or aggression when having their ears cleaned you may need to muzzle them or get professional help from a groomer.

How to bathe a puppy

When you wash a puppy for the first time, it’s normal for your furry friend to be a little hesitant.

  1. Make the whole thing easier by gradually getting them wet rather than putting them straight into a bath.
  2. Talk to them soothingly as you wash them. Thisn can be a great comfort for young pups.
  3. Use the same process for washing a puppy as a normal dog.
  4. Try and keep bath time shorter to begin with to help them get used to it.
  5. Dry them thoroughly with a towel afterwards. 

Once you've mastered bath time for your pup, learn how to potty train them.

Dog washing FAQS

Got a few other questions about cleaning your dog or puppy? Check our FAQs for answers to some of the most common queries.

How often should you wash a dog?

You should bathe your dog at least once every 3 months although some owners may prefer to wash their dogs as frequent as once a month if they're prone to playing in muddy puddles! Avoid overwashing your dog as this can remove important oils from their fur and skin. If you're unsure how often you should wash your dog then consult your veterinarian or a professional groomer.

How often should you wash a puppy?

Young pups need to be cleaned more regularly than adult dogs - this mirrors how they would be cared for by their parents. Wash puppies once a week for the first few weeks and then reduce to once a month or once every 3 months. Keep bath times short and avoid using lots of products, even dog-friendly ones, to reduce the risk of irritation to your pup.

Why should you wash your dog?

Washing dogs is essential for keeping them hygienic and stopping their fur from matting. It’s also a great time to check for fleas and skin problems, which is essential for a healthy pup!

How do you make a dog like baths?

For some dogs, bath time will always be a bit of a struggle. You can make it easier by rewarding your dog with treats or timing baths to occur after long walks when your dog naturally wants to take a dip in cold water. If your dog shows anxiety or aggression during bathing then speak to a professional - simply giving up each time could teach your dog that this type of behaviour is successful and get you stuck in a vicious cycle. 

Do I have to muzzle my dog during bath time?

No - this is entirely down to you. You need to choose what's best for you and your dog: some owners prefer to muzzle their dogs for safety but this could increase feelings of stress and anxiety in your dog. Talk to a professional if you're unsure and always approach bath time calmly so you don't feed any of your dog's negative emotions. See how your dog reacts to their first bath before deciding the best course of action.

Every dog owner should know how to clean their pup, so keep these tips in mind. Even if it doesn’t go quite as planned the first time, keep trying and you’ll both get there eventually.

Originally published