How Often Should I Bathe My Dog?

So you got a new dog and need to know just how often you should bathe him? You’ve come to the right place.

The three factors that determine how often you should bathe your dog are the amount of time that your dog spends outside, the climate you live in, and the breed of dog that you have. Generally speaking, however, you should bathe your dog once a month.

In this article, we will also cover how to prepare for bath time, and help you determine if you should bathe your dog inside or outside. We will even discuss what soap to use, and how to get “dead animal smell” out of your dog’s coat. Finally, we talk about what to do after you have bathed your dog. So, let’s dig in, (no pun intended).

Once a Month? Really?

There are exceptions to this rule, however. Basset Hounds, for example, may need to be bathed once a week, given the oily coat they have. Other dogs, such as Golden Retrievers and Great Pyrenees, which have water repellent coats, may need to be bathed once every other month in order to preserve the natural oils found in their coats.

Still other dogs with double coats, like the Husky or Malamute, don’t need to be bathed nearly as often. Their thick coat does, however, require a lot of brushing in order to remove loose dead hair. The natural oils found in their coat are actually healthy for their skin.

The Climate You Live In

If you live in a wet climate where it rains a lot, there is a high likelihood that your dog is going to attract mud into the house after going out to take of his business. Additionally, when your dog rubs up against wet shrubbery, it is very probable that plant-life will make its way into the coat of your dog.

If you live in a very dry climate, such the south-west of the United States, you may find that sand or dirt has an easier time finding its way into your dog’s coat. Whether its plant life, ticks, or dirt your dog brings into the house, clearly, the climate you live in will affect how often you will have to bathe your dog.

How Much Time Does Your Dog Spend Outside?

If your dog spends the majority of his time outside to run and play, he is obviously going to get dirty, because that’s where the dirt lives, outside.

If you let your dog out to do his “business” in your fenced back yard, he’s going to attract dirt, leaves, ticks, flees, etc., every time he goes out in the back yard. If your dog spends hours outside each day, he will have to be bathed regularly.

Why is it Important to Bathe Your Dog?

Obviously, you want to keep your dog clean so that he can maintain good health, but you also want to keep your dog clean because he probably sits on your couch, or sleeps on your bed. A dirty dog will ensure that your house gets dirty. A clean dog will limit how much dirt finds its way into your couch or on your bed.

Dog’s don’t sweat like you and I in order to moderate their body temperature. Instead, they pant. The primary reason that people bathe every day is not due to getting dirty, but rather, it it due to the amount of sweat we produce, which causes body-odor. We bathe to smell clean.

Dog’s pick up dirt, ticks, fleas and parasites when outside. These can borough into the coat of your dog and reek havoc on your dog if your dog is not properly brushed and bathed on a regular basis.

As mentioned, dogs do not sweat to gauge their body temperature like people do, but they will produce sweat between the toes in their paws, which is why your dog’s feet smell, not to mention that they walk outside barefoot to do their “business.”

It may not be necessary to bathe your dog as often as you might think. You may be able to simply wash your dog’s feet. After all, they do trapes around outside in the yard where they have gone to the bathroom countless times already. It may be that all you really need to do is wash their feet. You can pick up the Easiest Paw Washer to clean your dog’s feet from our store. We have used this ourselves, and it does a great job.

How to Prepare for the Bath

Of course, anybody can bathe a dog, but there are several things to take into consideration before giving your dog a bath. Here are 5 things to consider when preparing for “the bath.”

  1. Ensure that your dog has just used “the facilities.” Before you do anything, ensure that you have given your dog plenty of opportunity to do his “business” before giving him a bath. The last thing you want to happen is to have him offer you a “surprise” in the bathtub.
  2. You may want to consider using a leash. If you opt to bathe your dog in the bathtub, you may find it necessary to put your dog on a leash to ensure that he does not jump out of the tub and make a beeline for the door. You know your dog better than anybody, so only you can determine if that is a necessary precautionary measure.
  3. Dress accordingly. You will get wet. In fact, the bigger your dog, the more wet you will get, so be sure to dress for the occasion.
  4. Lay towels all over the floor. If you are going to bathe your dog in your bathtub, take all of the family member’s towels and lay them all on the floor to keep the floor dry. There is no need to dirty clean towels for this, simply place the used towels that are already hanging in the bathroom and place them on the floor. Of course, you’ll have to run a load of laundry later, but it will be well worth it.
  5. You need to prepare yourself. You can’t afford to view bathing your dog as a chore. You need to see it as an opportunity to bond with your dog. In other words, you have to be in a right state of mind, (a good mood, if you will), because you won’t be able to fool your dog.

Should I Bathe My Dog Outside or Inside?

You first need to determine if you should wash your dog outside with a hose and bucket, or in the bathtub in the house. The time of year and weather outside will help you make this decision for sure, but just remember, if you would not be comfortable swimming outside due to the weather, neither will your dog. If it’s too cold for you, it’s too cold for your dog. To make it more plain, if you would not want to be sprayed with the hose outside in the current weather, your dog won’t either.

There are several things you need to take into consideration when determining if you should bathe your dog in the bathtub in the house, or use a soapy bucket of water with your garden hose outside.

What is the temperament of your dog?

If you have a Dalmatian, you probably want to make it a practice to bathe your dog outside, or expect water all over the bathroom, . . . and perhaps running down the hall 😉 Why? Because Dalmatians tend to be very excitable dogs. My point is that you need to take your dog’s temperament into consideration when determining if you should bathe your dog inside or outside.

If you have a very small teacup dog, obviously you should bathe your dog inside, probably in the kitchen sink. Each dog has a different temperament and there are no absolutes when coming to this decision. You know your dog better than anyone else, but here are a few things that you want to take into consideration.

When you bathe your dog, use soothing words of praise for your dog. They will find great security when you gently caress their coat. Frequently place their jaw in the palm on your hand and praise them. This will calm them and assure them that everything is going to be OK.

Some dogs will shake, not because they are cold, but because they are afraid. If this ever happens to your dog when bathing them, be thorough, but be quick about it. You don’t want to stress your dog out. Again, using verbal assurance will go a long way, and make sure that the water temperature is warm, (not hot), so that they are comfortable.

Bathing your dog outside

When bathing your dog outside, do so on thick uncut grass. This way, the water will just seep into the ground, and when you finish and they decide to dry themselves off in the grass while laying on their back, they won’t embed cut grass into their coat.

Keep in mind that the temperature of the water coming out of the hose. Just remember that if the water is cold to you, it will be cold to your dog. In other words, if you can’t imagine allowing the garden water hose pouring over your head, preferring tepid bath water instead, you may want to choose a different method.

There are 2 advantages of bathing your dog outside. These include:

  1. There is no mess to mop up after the bath.
  2. The more your dog “shakes” his fur coat, the better for you, with no need to clean anything up.

Do you have enough space in your bathroom?

I promise you, if you choose to wash your dog in the bathtub in your bathroom, you will find that the size of your bathroom will miraculously get smaller while bathing your dog. OK, not really, but after getting your dog in the tub, you will then realize just how difficult it is to wash your dog in the tub, ESPECIALLY if you have a medium size dog.

In fact, you may find that it is easier to get in the bathtub with your dog to ensure that he gets a thorough cleaning. Trust me, leaning over the bathtub to wash your dog can be pretty painful on your back. You may find that throwing on the old swimsuit and sitting in the tub just might be easier on you, and your dog would probably like it more if you were to jump in there with him because you can hug and soothe your dog easier.

Have you prepped your bathroom?

If you have never given your dog a bath in the bathtub, you need to remember that your dog is going to shake the water off of him . . . several times, ensuring that your bathroom will get soaking wet. Understand that this is a certainty. Regardless of how much you prep your bathroom, your dog will get everything withing a 10 foot radius.

For this reason, if the weather permits, I would highly recommend that you try bathing your dog outside, but it you must bathe him inside, be sure to layout several used bath towels on the floor of the bathroom to soak up any water once your dog gets out of the tub. Again, these bath towels are only meant to keep the floor dry, and will definitely need to be thrown in the washer afterwards.

Inside or out, you will get soaking wet

As I have briefly mentioned already, understand that regardless of whether or not you bathe your dog inside or outside, you will get wet . . . soaking wet. Do not get upset when your dog shakes the water off, and don’t try to prevent them from doing so. This is normal behavior. Expect the “great shake” and laugh it off making a fun experience for your dog.

What Soap Should I Use?

There are numerous products available on the market for you to choose from. However, if you don’t want to make that investment, or if you just want to get the job done quickly, you can simply use dish soap and white vinegar.

Kitchen dish soap is designed to cut through grease, (Dawn comes to mind), which will remove any oils that have built up on your dog’s coat. Just be sure that you don’t use dish soap that has a strong scent to it, as that will bother your dog. Remember, they have a super sensitive nose.

White vinegar will make your dog’s coat look nice and shiny and will act as a deodorizer, making your dog smell good. Just be sure NOT to get white vinegar near your dog’s eyes because that will sting. If the white vinegar does get in your dog’s eyes, simply flush the eye out with running water. Mixing both dish soap with white vinegar to bathe your dog is a great inexpensive, and yet effective way to clean your dog.

If you find that your dog has rolled around in a dead animal, you need to follow the advice given above again, but this time, let the soap sink in for at least 10 minutes before rinsing. After you have rinsed your dog, and can literally hear the dog hair “squeak” when rubbing it, you can then move onto drying your dog.

One word of caution here. Don’t spray your dog with perfumes or cologne to mask the nasty smell. If, after thoroughly drying your dog, he still smells of dead animal, repeat the entire process by bathing your dog again, but this time, be sure to massage the soap deep into their coat before thoroughly rinsing an listening for that “squeak” in their coat.

How Should I Bathe my Dog?

To begin, be sure to praise your dog for simply letting you bathe him. You always want to praise your dog for good behavior, and for a dog to sit there while you bathe him, it is very good behavior. Use your voice to soothe your dog. It will ensure them and keep them calm. This will mean smiling when you speak, and using their name either in a sentence or simply saying their name repeatedly.

For example, “Who’s a good dog? Riker’s a good dog! I love Riker. Riker is going to be clean today. Rikerrrrrrr.” This, of course, sounds silly to us, but the tone of voice, and the use of their name in sentence means that you are pleased with their behavior, and that’s what matters to your dog.

When you bathe your dog, you want to be sure that you apply soap very liberally. There should be lots of foam involved and make it a point to rub the soap deep into the coat of your dog.

You want to be very careful around the face, especially around the eyes. When I wash our dogs, I do pour warm water over their head. I lather the top of their head, and their high cheekbones, and under their jaw, but that’s it. I don’t go near their eyes, or any place where their tongue could lick the soap.

It can not be overstated just how important it is to be exceptionally thorough in rinsing the soap off of your dog. Again, it is very important that you rinse all of the soap away.

When you think that you have rinsed all the soap out, rub their coat vigorously in an attempt to reveal any remaining soap. If you find bubbles of any sort, you need to continue to rinse out the soap. Repeat that process until you can’t find any small soap bubbles at all.

After You Have Bathed Your Dog

After you have bathed your dog, the first thing you want to do is to dry them off as much as you can. They will then shake any excess water from their fur coat. In fact, your dog can shake up to 70% of the water from their coat within 4 seconds.

If you decide to use a blow-dryer on your dog, (assuming that your dog has no problem with you using the blow-dryer on them and is not afraid of it), there are a couple of things you need to ensure you do.

  1. Ensure that the hair dryer is set to it’s lowest setting. A loud hair dryer will probably scare your dog, or hurt their ears. Keep it on low and take the extra time with your dog. Remember, a pleasant experience will welcome the next bath.
  2. Ensure that the hair dryer is set to normal air temperature, NOT heat. You can’t feel what your dog can. The heat from a hair dryer can cause your dog to yelp in pain in an instant. It’s just not worth the risk. Take the extra minute or two to dry your dog on the “Normal room temperature” air setting.

    Make sure that you maintain at least a distance of 10 inches from your dog’s coat. Some areas of a dogs skin are more sensitive than others, so to ensure that your dog stays comfortable, keep a distance of at least 10 inches between the hair dryer and your dog.

After you bathe and dry your dog, they may then roll themselves on the carpet floor. This is normal behavior, especially if you did not use a hair dryer to dry them. They are trying to get dry and remove any remaining water from their coat.

Be sure to you continue to praise your dog. It can’t be stated enough to praise your dog throughout the entire bathing experience. You want them to feel loved during this process, not scolded. You want it to be a pleasant experience, not an “Oh no, it’s bath time!” When your dog trusts you, he will sit patiently while you bathe him, especially if you speaking kind soothing words to him. Make it a fun experience for your dog.

Rebecca Chesonis

Rebecca Chesonis is a business professional with a lifelong love for dogs. She has owned and worked around dogs since she was a child. She has a love for all breeds, and a particular fondness for large dogs. She loves to write articles and create videos that will help you take care of your dog and find activities to make life with your dog even more fun!

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