How to Give Your Puppy a Bath
Using proper grooming techniques on a new puppy is the gift that will keep on giving. If you start the appropriate brushing, bathing, trimming and cleaning methods early, it will result in an older dog that is accustomed to the activities and the lessened likelihood of high drama in the future.
Most veterinarians advise against bathing a puppy until he is six-to-eight weeks old due to the difficulties pups have regulating body temperature. It’s why you often see them shivering, even in seemingly warm temperatures. When they are ready, however, the smaller size doesn’t necessarily mean they’re going to be easier to bathe. Be prepared for squirming, wriggling and attempts to flee during the first few times because bathing a puppy can be an adventure!
It’s always wise to have all of your necessary materials together and within arm’s reach before bathing a puppy. This includes a brush, dog/puppy-formulated shampoo, towels, a washcloth, cotton balls and a blow dryer with cool settings. A sink or a plastic tub may work for the first few puppy baths for most breeds but it might be wise to use a bathtub right from the start to get him acclimated to the location in the future.
Before starting the bathing process, thoroughly brush the puppy’s coat to make sure there are no tangles or mats.
Clean his inner ears with gauze or a soft washcloth soaked in warm water, mineral oil or witch hazel before starting the actual bath, remaining cautious not to insert anything into the ear canal.
Place a non-slip, rubber mat on the bottom of the tub to prevent slipping and fill to his knee level with lukewarm water.
Place cotton balls in the puppy’s ears to keep out water and gently lift him into the water.
Use a faucet-attached sprayer or an unbreakable cup or ladle to thoroughly wet his coat, taking caution to avoid getting water in the eyes, ears or mouth. Once the coat is wet, lather in shampoo, handling the head last. Immediately rinse with lukewarm water, beginning with the head. Leaving shampoo on too long can lead to dry skin and potential irritation, while causing scratch-requiring itching and discomfort that will last long after the bath is over. Doing a double-rinse is always advisable.
It’s time to remove the puppy from the tub and thoroughly dry him. Start with towels and, if he allows, use a blow dryer on the lowest heat setting (preferably entirely cool air). If the cotton balls in the ears are wet, take them out and dry the inner ears with fresh cotton balls or a dry cloth.
The first couple of attempts at bathing a puppy are likely to be adventure –– so, have some patience because your work will pay off with more serene dog bathing sessions as he grows into an adult dog.
Visit our Pet Grooming resources for additional information and products for grooming, clipping, trimming, and bathing your pet.