How To Wash A Dog At Home – A Simple & Easy Guide

Many owners don’t know how to wash a dog properly. So, I have given you this simple guide on how to wash a dog at home without specialist equipment. You want the whole process to be relaxed and stress-free. If you know much about dog psychology, you will know that if you are stressed and nervous, it will transmit to your dog too.

There are various different outlines on the internet on how to wash a dog, but I focus on the simple way that a ‘normal’ person can learn how to wash a dog at home without specialist equipment.


The first step is to get all of your dog bathing equipment ready

First, ensure you have suitable dog shampoo (tearless dog shampoo and your main dog shampoo), as well as a dog conditioner if necessary. Make sure that they are suitable for your dog’s coat, and that you dilute them to the correct level. To do this, use a jug or other container to dilute it before you apply it to your dog.

You will also need a towel, or several for a large dog, to dry your pet afterwards. Other items you will need include cotton wool for blocking the ears and a non-slip rubber mat so that your dog feels secure in your bathing area and doesn’t slip and scratch your bath with his nails. A bath mat or shower mat is fine for this. I also like to use a face cloth I keep for my dogs. I use this for drying his face in the bath, and also taking off most of the excess water before he gets out of the bath, and shakes it all around my bathroom.

You may wish to hold onto the dog’s collar while you bathe your dog as it will allow you to keep him under control. On the other hand, you may wish to have the help of a family member to make the process easier. Once you are your dog have done this a number of times and learned how to was a dog at home, you will both begin to relax and may not need a collar after a time.

Once you have all these items together, you are ready to bathe your dog. You can either do this in your normal bath or, if you have a small dog, you can do it in a plastic storage box or a baby’s bathtub inside the household bath.


How to wash your dog at home

If you are at the bathing area, follow this step-by-step “How To Wash A Dog” guide and the whole process should run smoothly.

(1) Place a piece of cotton wool in each of the dog’s ears to prevent any water from entering it.

(2) Check that the water you are using is lukewarm (about body temperature) 37°C / 98.6°F. This is a comfortable temperature for a dog. Not too hot, but warm enough to do a good job cleaning the dog. Some people will use a hose out the back of their house, but I don’t like this for 2 reasons:
a. It isn’t warm enough to get a good wash.
b. I feel in our cooler UK and Irish temperatures it is not very kind to your dog.

(3) Now, place your dog in the bath.

(4) Wet the dog’s fur thoroughly, apart from the head and face.

(5) Pour some of the diluted shampoos from the jug onto the dog’s coat and thoroughly massage it into the coat. Using a sponge may be helpful in this situation, particularly if your dog is very dirty (Look here for more details on diluting Groomers Dog Shampoo).

(6) After you have washed the body you can now move on the head and face. I recommended you wash the ears first. As with the body, wet with the bathwater and then massage in the diluted tearless shampoo, avoiding contact with the eyes.

(7) Now rinse off the shampoo you have applied so far, although there is no need to be too thorough at this stage.

(8) You can now wash the dog’s head. This requires extra attention as any shampoo in the eyes may cause discomfort and stress, as the dog won’t be able to see properly, and may get upset. If you are not using tearless shampoo, be especially vigilant about not getting the soap into the eyes, as it will sting, just like adult human shampoo does to us. It is wise to use Groomers Tearless Shampoo as it will reduce the risk of irritation.

(9) Massage the shampoo into the whole of the face, being careful around the eyes.

(10) After you have washed all areas of the coat, rinse it thoroughly with clean water, making sure that all the shampoo has been removed. Leaving traces of it on the fur may cause irritation.

(11) You can now use a conditioner if you wish to. Follow the same process as with the shampoo, rinsing thoroughly at the end.

(12) Now remove the cotton wool from the dog’s ears and, if possible, allow it to shake off the excess water. After it has done this, dry it with a towel as much as possible. You may wish to dry it further using a dryer. For pet dogs (not show dogs) and on a warm day or house, you can just towel dry if you wish, then let the dog dry the rest naturally

(13) After washing and towel drying, your dog may run around the house a bit, this is OK and nothing to worry about. Some dogs do this, some don’t.

If you can, I like to also wash my dog’s webbing collar at this time. I put the collar into a jug of diluted shampoo, give it a few squeezes, and then let it soak for a time. Give it a few more squeezes and then rinse and dry before you put it back on the dog.

After you have carried out this dog washing process several times your pet should get used to it and become more accepting. It can turn into a bonding session between you and your pet, and an activity you can enjoy together. Make it fun for your pet, and your easy-going, relaxed attitude will be noticed by your pet.


How To Wash A Dog – Video Demonstration

Here are a couple of videos on How To Wash A Dog. These are made by independent professional dog groomers, and explain the process.

Video 1

Video 2

I found these on the internet, and are not a promotional product for this company, but they still point out the importance, of a high-quality shampoo, the fact that professional shampoo is concentrated and needs to be diluted, and normal retail shop dog shampoo is not.

Each video shows you various different aspects of the process, so watch them both, and between them, you can get a better overview of the task, and properly explain to you how to wash a dog. They are slightly different and you can learn from both of them. I choose these two from the many openly available on the internet, as they are easy to see, hear, and are full of useful information and tips.

You are probably at home doing this and don’t have professional grooming baths. Don’t worry, you can use your own bath in your house with a shower attachment as I do, and many others do too just fine.


4 useful tips

(1) Water Temperature – The temperature should be about the human body temperature of 37°C / 98.6°F. This is a comfortable temperature for a dog. Not too hot, but warm enough to do a good job cleaning the dog. Some people will use a hose out the back of their house, but I don’t like this for 2 reasons:
a. It isn’t warm enough to get a good wash.
b. I feel in our cooler UK and Irish temperatures it is not very kind to your dog.

(2) In the first “how to wash a dog” video, the lady only half cleans the dog, she is just giving you a quick demonstration and going through the full washing process.

(3) Also in the first video, she correctly explains that you should stop the water from going into the dog’s nose, then mistakenly tilts the head upwards to wash the face. This should of course be downwards, as water will easily run into the dog’s nose when tilted upwards.

(4) In the second video you can see the lady has left the dog, unattended on a table and off-leash. This is not recommended, as an accident is likely to happen with most dogs. I assume that she knows this dog well, and knows that the dog is not going to fall or jump off. I guess she has let you see that just so that you can see that the dog is not stressed but enjoying itself, as many dogs do at this stage. But I strongly suggest that you don’t leave a dog unattended on a high surface, especially when wet, and a bit hyperactive, such as after a bath.


Alternatively, you could wash your dog at a self-service dog wash or take it to a groomer – here is a guide on dog grooming prices in the UK.