Dog washing tips and tricks

Author picture Jessica

Why should I wash my dog?

The most common sign you should wash your dog is when Fido has started to smell a bit more stinky than usual. This might be because they have rolled in something smelly, or it’s been a long time between baths. 

Another good reason is to freshen and shine up their coat, as well as remove dead fur and skin. Shedding season is a good time to wash your dog, as this will keep the worst of the fluff off the floor. Regardless of the reason, it's a good idea for all dog owners and dog sitters to have some knowledge about grooming at home.

If your dog has an unusual smell, especially around the ears or mouth, let the vet know. There might be an underlying medical condition or infection that needs checking out. 

Golden retriever having a bath

How often should I wash my dog?

How often you give your dog a bath depends on your dog’s fur and skin condition. 

A dog with normal skin can get away with a month or so between baths or until they roll in something stinky. Some breeds might only need a wipe or a very occasional bath, for example, greyhounds and other short-fur breeds. 

However, some dog breeds might need more frequent washing due to a skin condition or allergies. Others might need a professional groomer every few weeks. Speak to your vet and they will be able to give you advice on how often you should wash your dog. 

Importantly, be careful not to overwash your dog as this can strip the natural protective oils in their coat and lead to skin problems. Dogs have a natural ‘doggy smell’, especially after getting wet. So if your dog has this normal odour, bathing can usually wait. Instead, give them a good brush to freshen up. 

Dog bath equipment

What products will I need to wash my dog?

Dog brush

Select a good-quality dog brush that is suitable for your dog’s coat length and density. If you are unsure of the most appropriate brush type, speak to your vet.

Dog shampoo and conditioner

It’s essential to use dog shampoo on your dog and never human soap or detergent, no matter how mild. Dogs have sensitive skin that has different PH levels than a human. As such, using the wrong soap can do harm to their skin.

Choose an unscented dog shampoo that is hypoallergenic and gentle, unless your vet has advised you to use a medicated shampoo. Speak with them to make the best choice for your furry friend.

Follow up with a dog conditioner, as it’s important to replenish the oils in your dog’s fur and leave it silky smooth.

Towel or blow dryer

Most dogs don’t enjoy bathing at the best of times, so don’t leave them shivering after you have finished! Some dogs might need a blow-dry too if they have extra thick fur, but try to keep it on the lowest, quietest setting. A noisy blow dryer can be a bit scary for some dogs.

Keep an extra towel nearby as this can be handy to use as a shield when they shake.


How to wash your dog

Follow these steps to make your dog’s bathing experience smooth and stress-free. 

Before you begin, ask a friend, family member or pet sitter to help as a second pair of hands. And importantly, keep some treats in your pocket to use as a reward throughout the bath! Anytime your dog is compliant and lets you wash them is definitely worthy of a treat and praise.  

  1. Brush your dog’s fur first

Doing so will remove matted or dead fur, allowing the water and shampoo to get right to their skin.

  1. Choose a calm, warm environment

You might prefer to wash your dog outside if the weather is warm and you have a nice lawned area. On the other hand, a quiet bathroom or laundry might be more appropriate if you are washing a small dog or the weather is cold. Use your judgement, and make sure wherever you choose has a slip-proof surface.

It’s a good idea to exercise your dog before starting, so they are a little less energetic during the bath. 

  1. Rinse and shampoo your dog

Dilute the shampoo product, and work it gently into your dog’s fur with comfortably warm water. Be sure to get in all the tricky spots - especially underneath your dog’s belly and legs. Give your dog a rinse with warm water and repeat to remove the last of the dirt. 

Massage a small amount of dog conditioner into your dog’s fur, and rinse with warm water after a few minutes. Be very careful not to leave any remaining product on your dog.

Use a damp cloth to wipe your dog’s face if they need it. If you own a breed with skin folds such as a pug, you will need to do this regularly and be sure they are completely dry to prevent sore spots or infection. 

  1. Dry your dog

Allow your dog to have a good shake (which is when you hide behind a towel!). After that, give them a good rub down, another brush and blow-dry on a cool, gentle setting if necessary. 

If your dog is absolutely terrified of water or distressed, try again another day or speak to a professional groomer. They have the training to deal with even the most nervous dogs.

And lastly, read up here on how to clean your dog’s ears and teeth.

Many Pawshake pet sitters offer dog washing, so ask them next time you make a booking! Your dog will return to you smelling fresh and squeaky clean.