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How to Give a Puppy a Bath? Step-by-Step Guide

Written by: Nicole Cosgrove

Last Updated on June 4, 2024 by Dogster Team

puppy beagle takes a bath in the backyard

How to Give a Puppy a Bath? Step-by-Step Guide


Dr. Lorna Whittemore  Photo


Dr. Lorna Whittemore

BVMS, MRCVS (Veterinarian)

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

Learn more »

When you get a new puppy, there are so many things to remember that it can be very overwhelming to learn everything you need to know to be the best puppy parent. Establishing routines during puppyhood is the key to making your and your dog’s life easier as your puppy grows into adulthood.

Something that’s super likely is needing to bathe your puppy. Your puppy can get themselves mucky in so many ways, so it’s up to you to clean them up again. You should know a few things when you bathe your puppy for the first time. It’s something you’ll have to do repeatedly over time, so you want to be sure that your puppy’s first experience is a good one.

Keep reading to get a step-by-step guide on how to give your puppy a proper bath.

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How to Give a Puppy a Bath in 8 Easy Steps

So, what’s involved in bathing your new puppy? From understanding their type of fur and what breed they are to choosing the right shampoo and keeping the experience positive, there are a few items on this checklist to ensure a good experience:

1. Determine the Puppy’s Coat Type or Breed Specifics

There are different types of puppy fur across the hundreds of breeds. Whether your puppy has curly, wiry, straight, short, or long fur will influence how you bathe them to get them effectively clean. Some breeds that will develop locks, such as Hungarian Puli, will need more care than smooth-haired Jack Russell Terriers.

cute puppy sleeping on back
Photo Credit: JackieLou DL, Shutterstock

2. Preparation

Another important way to ensure a good bath time for your puppy is to be well-prepared. You want to always keep near your pup, so make sure you have everything you need within your reach.

This includes having your shampoo, conditioner, towels and treats around. Bath time can be a scary experience for a puppy, so you’ll want to ensure that if your dog jumps out, they won’t rip a tornado through your bathroom and hurt themselves. Having everything to hand means you won’t have to step away and leave your pup by themselves and open to mischief.

3. Brush Through Their Fur

Brushing through your puppy’s fur first is recommended. Fur that has been brushed through is easier to wash and rinse out completely.

Make sure you brush out any knots or matted fur. It will prevent mats from worsening, which could eventually need to be cut or shaved off your pup. It’s a good thing to do before a bath because the build-up of shampoos and conditioners in matted fur can worsen the problem.

apricot poodle puppy pampering grooming with hairbrush at home
Photo Credit: Kristina Arba, Shutterstock

4. Choose the Right Products

Depending on the puppy’s breed or coat type, you will want to make sure you’re choosing the best shampoo and conditioner. Some puppies might need more moisture following a bath, while some are good with a basic conditioner. You can check with your veterinarian for suggestions.

It’s best to use puppy shampoo and to avoid using human products. Puppy shampoo is gentle and meant for young dogs’ skin. Using baby shampoo isn’t ideal either, as it isn’t meant for fur and dog skin.

Our Favorite Products

Selecting the right shampoo and conditioner makes the world of a difference when grooming your pup. Our favorite products are the duo by Hepper. The Oatmeal Pet Shampoo is formulated with aloe and oatmeal to soothe skin and hydrate the coat. The Pet Conditioner works at eliminating tangles and taming frizz and static. Both products are pH-balanced and formulated with pet-friendly ingredients, free of harsh soaps, chemicals, and dyes. Give this duo a try to heal and nourish your dog's coat, and leave them with an irresistible just-left-the-spa cucumber and aloe scent. 

Hepper Oatmeal Shampoo for Dogs, Cats and Other...
Hepper Pet Conditioner and Moisturiser - Scented...
Hepper Oatmeal Shampoo for Dogs, Cats and Other...
Hepper Pet Conditioner and Moisturiser - Scented...
pH balanced
Gently cleanses
Cucumber & aloe scent
Free of harmful additives
Combats tangles & static
Soothes & hydrates
Hepper Oatmeal Shampoo for Dogs, Cats and Other...
Hepper Oatmeal Shampoo for Dogs, Cats and Other...
pH balanced
Gently cleanses
Cucumber & aloe scent
Free of harmful additives
Combats tangles & static
Soothes & hydrates
Hepper Pet Conditioner and Moisturiser - Scented...
Hepper Pet Conditioner and Moisturiser - Scented...
pH balanced
Gently cleanses
Cucumber & aloe scent
Free of harmful additives
Combats tangles & static
Soothes & hydrates

At Dogster, we’ve admired Hepper for many years and decided to take a controlling ownership interest so that we could benefit from the outstanding designs of this cool pet company!


5. Start Slow

Test the temperature of the water you’re using to bathe your puppy. Water that is too hot or too cold can spook them and make the experience start on the wrong foot. Aim for lukewarm water.

Show them the water is okay and let them take their time to investigate. Slow and steady is a good way to introduce them to puppy baths. Make it fun by adding a toy and treats.

When you bathe your puppy for the first time, don’t dunk them into a full bathtub – especially the tiny ones! They only need water to go up to their knees. If using the shower, then give them time to adjust to the sights and sounds.

Alternatively, bathing your dog in a backyard or on a patio with a slow stream from a hose is possible. Make sure your pup is tied up with a long leash and in a comfortable environment, too.

Don’t use high-velocity nozzles that will shoot hard water at your dog. This can scare your puppy away from the bathing experience. A better alternative would be to get a bucket and scoop water up to pour gently over your pup.

Make sure you don’t apply shampoo right away! Give your puppy time to get used to the water and the overall environment before you start with the shampoo. Wet the coat thoroughly and then lather them up.

Remember to keep water and shampoo out of your puppy’s eyes and ears!

bathing puppy in a tub
Photo Credit: liilxliil, Pixabay

6. Use Treats and Positive Reinforcement

Keep it fun and rewarding for your puppy with pats, treats, and a calming voice. If you tell them and show them that this is a good thing, they will be ready and calmer the next time you need to bathe them.

Puppies love treats – give them lots to reinforce good behavior.

7. Wash Out All the Shampoo

Thoroughly rinse all the shampoo from your puppy’s fur using a steady stream of water. This is one of the most important parts of the bathing process. Ensure all the shampoo has been rinsed out completely.

A build-up of shampoo that gets dried into a puppy’s fur can result in the fur and shampoo or conditioner becoming sticky and causing the fur to mat. This is especially difficult to remove after time without cutting your pup’s fur, so it’s best to avoid it from the get-go.

Goldendoodle Puppy getting sink bath
Photo Credit: Asbacon, Shutterstock

8. Determine the Best Way to Dry Your Puppy

Puppies may or may not enjoy the drying process, as well as the bath itself. When they finish a bath, they sometimes want to run around and express their excitement at being free. Be ready with a towel as your pup may try to shake all the water off, splattering you and your bathroom in the process.

They might grab onto your towel and think it’s time for a game of tug-of-war. You can choose whether you want to engage or not. Microfiber drying towels, mitts, or even dog jackets can help get them dried off with minimum fuss.

Some puppies are okay with a low-level, slightly warm blow dry after a bath, and some prefer to run around in a backyard and air dry. Try a few different methods with your puppy to find out what works best for them.


Final Thoughts

Getting your puppy used to a bathtime routine is essential for ensuring that bathing your dog gets easier as it grows up. Hopefully, the steps in this guide gave you an idea of what to do for your puppy’s first bath. When bathing your puppy, it’s important to ease into it so that you don’t frighten your puppy. Make sure to use the right products and give lots of treats and praise so that your pup learns that bath time is a good thing.

Featured Image Credit: Easy Morning, Shutterstock

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