How to wash your dog


Similarly to the kids, bath time for dogs can either be a heavenly experience or a nightmare. Washing your dog needn’t be a difficult task with the right advice and, once all is said and done, it’s not exactly rocket science, right?

The good news is that dogs are self-cleaning, just like cats—they just may not smell like roses a lot of the time. The bottom line here is that dogs don’t need washing, ever. In fact, the natural oils in their coats are designed to keep them clean and protected. While most dogs will not need washing, some dogs with skin disorders or allergies may need special treatment. If your dog fits into this category, your vet may suggest bathing them weekly (or more) with a special shampoo.

The number one reason we’ll ever want to wash our dogs, however, is to make them a more enjoyable indoor companion—free of that ‘doggy’ smell we all know too well.


How often should I wash my dog?

Dog in the bath


This question gets asked of vets all the time. Unfortunately there is no one answer for all dogs—some get smellier more quickly than others, especially those that spend a lot of time outdoors or live in wet, humid climates.

The general rule is that, unless instructed otherwise, you shouldn’t be shampoo-washing your dog more often than once a week. This will allow their natural oils to remain, meaning they’ll avoid dry or irritated skin and keep a healthy-looking coat.


Swim time is bath time too.

Dog swimming with tennis ball


If you’re worried about washing your dog too often, try taking them for swims in the surf or give them the opportunity to paddle in your swimming pool. While they won’t necessarily come out smelling of roses, they’ll certainly be a lot fresher on the nose and the best part of it all is that swimming is great exercise.

While swimming is a rewarding activity, it may not be an option you’ll have readily available. We understand that not everybody will be able to take their dogs swimming on the weekends so, for those who want to bathe their dogs, here’s how to do it.


How to wash your dog—make it a fun and exciting time.

The trick to getting your dog to do anything you want is to make the experience relaxing and fun. Your dog may be a keen swimmer, but only on their terms. Alternatively, your dog may hate the water and loathe bath time with a passion.

The best thing you can do is have a play with your dog first, be equipped with plenty of toys or doggy treats and be prepared to follow bath time with a reward. We suggest a big long walk so that next time you wash your dog, they’ll know to expect the same treatment for their continued cooperation.


To shampoo or not to shampoo? That is the question.

As we’ve mentioned above, shampoo is certainly not necessary when it comes to giving your dog a wash. If you’d like to get their coat perfectly clean, however, choosing the right shampoo is an important decision.

First of all, it’s important to insist that human shampoo is a no-no when it comes to dogs. Never use your own shampoo when washing the dog—the chemicals in human shampoos are far too strong for your pet’s skin. There are a number of brands out there that produce shampoo specially formulated for dogs. They are formulated to be gentle on your dog’s skin and coat and many boast attractive chemical-free fragrances. Popular brands to look out for include Fido’s, Bradfield’s and the Purina line of shampoos.

Remember that before using any grooming product on your dog it’s important to make sure that they’re not suffering any allergies or have any skin irritations. Ask your vet about the shampoo you’re planning to use if unsure.


Okay, let’s get started. Here’s what you’ll need.

Dog in a towel

Now that you’ve got your dog shampoo organised, make sure you’ve got a suitable tub for them to bathe in. This could be something simple like a blow up swimming pool or a plastic container, yet in many ways it’s just easier to use the bath in your house.

  • Step One: Make sure you’re using warm water in the tub and avoid bathing them after lunch time. It’s important that their coat has sufficient time to dry before the sun goes down and the day starts to cool.
  • Step Two: It’s time to get them into the bath. Take it slowly—you don’t want to spook your dog too much or they’ll never want to take a bath again. Be gentle and never shout or lose patience with them. Might be a new experience for them and it may take some getting used to.
  • Step Three: Once your dog is in the bath, reward them with a doggy treat. Give them a big pat and a ‘good boy’ or ‘you’re a good little girl’. It’s important that they know that this is making your happy and that you’ll be rewarded for cooperating.
  • Step Four: You’ll want to have a plastic bowl or small bucket handy so that you can pour warm water over your dog. Slowly pour the water over your dog, starting from the rear and moving up their spine towards their head. This will give them time to get used to the sensation.
  • Step Five: Once your dog is sufficiently soaked, apply shampoo from the neck down and massage it well into their coat. Once it’s been lathered up properly, give your dog another treat and begin rinsing.
  • Step Six: Time to dry your dog. A super absorbent towel is best for this and you’ll be able to pick one up at nearly any pet shop. Drying thoroughly is a must as dogs will naturally want to roll about and rub themselves against anything in sight after they’ve been wet.

Finally, if you’re worried about your dog getting dirty again, immediately after washing them, it’s a good idea to keep them inside for a few hours.

Once their bath time is over and their drying off period done, always remember to reward your dog with a nice big walk and some play time. It’s essential that any wash is associated with fun times and rewards if you want things to go smoothly in the future.

Good luck!

*Please note, any pet insurance advice provided is general only. Refer to the applicable Product Disclosure Statement for details of Bow Wow Meow Pet Insurance cover.