How To Bathe a Puppy? – The Complete Guide

Puppy in bath

So, you’ve got a puppy, and that’s your first time. I remember this first day when I wanted to bathe her. How terrified I was! I was afraid to do anything wrong that can affect her health. At that time, I have never read about how to bathe a puppy. That’s why I am here now to give you a professional personal experience that will allow you to give your puppy the best bath ever.

“Showering or bathing your puppy is not a hard thing to do. You have to train him at first to get him used to showers and bathtubs. You can just let him in the bath with no water for an hour or two and give him treats. Then start opening the water slowly while giving him toys and treats. Don’t forget to dry the dog well using a hairdryer, and please avoid any dry shampoo.”

When Should I Give My Puppy The First Bath?

Puppies may have the first bath from the age of 8 weeks. They can’t have a shower before that age. If you happened to have a Mommy who had puppies, you can’t bathe them until they reach eight weeks old.

How Often Should I bathe My Puppy?

How to bathe a puppy
How to bathe a puppy

Puppies/dogs aren’t humans. They don’t need to wash regularly. I know many people who never bathe their dogs in 6-7 months.

However, you can bathe your puppy whenever he steps/sleeps in a pee/poop or whenever he gets himself muddy, but the puppy doesn’t need regular showering at all.

Showering your puppy has pros and cons. We can look at its advantages here:

  • Removing any nasty substance.
  • Reducing the body odor (especially if you have a retriever like me)
  • Helps in treating skin infections

However, we should always look at the other side of any equation, and as because we said that, we have to look at the cons:

  • Regular bathing can damage the dog’s underskin bacteria: As we know that dogs live in the wild, so they have bacteria under their skin to protect them from fungi. Regular bathing can damage this bacteria, so please be considerable about how many times you bath your puppy; usually, once a month is ideal.
  • You are making a lot of effort into something they don’t need: Dogs have waterproof coats, unusual helping bacteria, a lot of oils into their coats, etc. So you never need to think deeply about bathing your dog every week. Just wash them whenever they are smelly or once a month.

Why Is The First Bath The MOST IMPORTANT?

How to bathe a puppy
Bathing a puppy for the first time

Your first bath with your puppy shapes how the rest of the showers will be. That’s why I emphasize on reading first how to bathe your puppy. Otherwise, you are going to struggle for the rest of your life.

We can understand the reason for the importance of the first bath from the quote, “First impressions are the most lasting,” and that’s true. If your dog has a fantastic experience in his first bath, he will adore bathing for the rest of his life. However, if you failed to impress him in the first bath, you can always get him used to bathe well later, but if you nailed it for the first time, it would make it a lot easier.

Things To Consider Before Bathing Your Puppy

You may be wondering, “Why do puppies struggle on their first bath?”

The answer to this is quite easy. Mommies don’t bathe their puppies in real life. They lick them to clean them. However, they don’t have a tub where they soak the puppy.

So, bathing is something unnatural to any puppy. Unlike babies who can be happy to touch the water, puppies can find this the scariest experience they will ever have. Also, keep in mind that a lot of puppies love water. But, they see the tub as a frightening place where their owners force them inside.

That’s why you have to be patient and don’t force your puppy to be bather. Otherwise, you will push him every time, and by the way, forcing a large dog that exceeds 30 KGs into a tub is the hardest thing ever.

Let’s Prepare For The First Bath

Hairdryer to dry the puppy.

Nothing is more important than preparing. To bathe a puppy for the first time, you should first prepare yourself and make sure that:

  • You are not busy that day: Because you may take three or more hours to have the first bath.
  • The house is warm: Puppy’s immunity system isn’t the strongest.
  • The bathroom is free of anything scary and is full of his toys.
  • You have something to dry him after bathing immediately like a hairdryer.
  • You have chosen the best shampoo to bathe your dog: I will discuss it in a second.

Choosing The Best Shampoo For Your Puppy

So it’s time to get the best shampoo that you can make sure it will be the best choice for your little friend. However, a lot of friends have recommended dry shampoos for you and how they are super beautiful. Let me discuss them first.

Dry Shampoos For Puppies

They are the miracles, aren’t they? You need to wash your puppy, and you don’t have time to dry him, or you don’t have a hairdryer, or you don’t want to spend much time cleaning your dog.

Puppy dry shampoo

So you get the pack, put it on your dog with a quick good rubbing and BOOM! You have finished how sweet!

First, let’s know how a Dry Shampoo can clean your dog without water (or with a minimal amount of water):

The main idea of dry shampoo is to absorb all the dirt on the dog’s skin or any substances on it. However, it doesn’t absorb the greasy substances only. It expands to absorb the excess oil of the dog’s skin. It will keep absorbing the excessive oil until it absorbs the main skin oils and the skin nutrients, and then the dangerous part is to absorb the water of the skin, causing dehydration.

However, not only dehydration will be your enemy here; cancer will be a good participant too. As scientists proved companies make dry shampoos of cancerous substances, you can read more about this study here.

Now Returning to Our Main Title, What’s The Best Shampoo For Dogs?

Johnson's Baby Shampoo
Baby Johson Shampoo

Well, if you want me to be honest with you, there’s not something called the best dog shampoo, and by the way, any shampoo can do. However, some shampoos are better than the other like some shampoos contain more nutrients than others (and that’s in humans’ world too). I prefer to use baby shampoo because companies make them from chemical substances that won’t harm the babies’ eyes. Since you may be a beginner in giving doggy showers, I would prefer to use such shampoos that will keep your puppy safe if you made a mistake. I use Johnson’s Baby products. As I don’t want to promote a bunch of crappy products that are for 100s of dollars, I am honest with you all!


Now, everything is ready, and you have set everything. Let’s figure out how to bathe a puppy, here we can go through a bunch of steps:

Puppy having shower
  • Don’t push him to the bathroom: That’s quite a common mistake that I see people do. They sell the puppy into the bathroom suddenly and start an action. You should be patient, start introducing him to the bathroom bit by bit. I recommend making him enter the bathroom daily to be familiar with this place! However, on the day of bathing, grab a bunch of treats and toys. Then, enter the bathroom and start playing with him and giving him lots of love and treats!
  • Introduce him to the tub without water: The bathtub is the worst place for any puppy. First, it has a weird texture. Second thing, there is “a wall” that surrounds the tub, and it is tiny that it looks like a kennel. So, you have to be patient, let them discover the tub as much as they want, and keep giving them treats and play with them. Never open the water until you see them relieved, which might take an hour or two to occur.
  • Start opening the water slowly: Start very slow and give them treats every second. If you saw them stressed, return a step backward and wait until they become more relieved, then you can start again.
  • Start bathing: You should choose the right temperature for your dog. Making the water warm is the perfect temperature. 
    Don’t start putting shampoo right away. Instead, give your puppy some time to adapt himself to that new feeling of water. After that, you can put shampoo on the dog. Start rubbing the dog’s hair gently, making the shampoo enters between its hair. After that, put some water again to remove the shampoo.
  • Drying your dog: I see a lot of mistakes in this step. You have to dry your dog well. Otherwise, various skin infections will infect your dog. It’s quite obvious.
    First, grab a towel and rub your puppy gently. After that, grab the hairdryer and start drying the dog. However, make the hairdryer far from your dog not to burn its hair (dogs can’t bear hot air). After that, it’s better to make the dog go out in the sun to make sure he dries well. 
    Again, you can’t let a puppy out without being dried well. It will suffer lots of diseases

Common Issues:

A dog refusing to bathe!

As I mentioned earlier, it’s widespread for dogs to be afraid of water. That’s why you have to make sure that you will be patient and never make the dog afraid. Don’t say, that’s fine, let him worried, and I will carry him every time. Because the dog will grow bigger and bigger, and to carry a large dog will not be a solution anymore. Always think of the future because that’s the mindset of Positive Training.


Bathing a little puppy may seem stressful or overwhelming. We were all afraid of bathing our puppy for the first time. You might make mistakes; however, you should try hard to make him comfortable in the tub. Take everything slowly, and never expect too much from your dog.

Do you have a funny story with your dog in the bathroom? Let us know in the comments 

Now, make sure to look at our previous posts. We have a fantastic article that every owner should read to be able to deal with emergencies. Stay tuned for our next post!

Soheir Maher

Hi, I am Soheir. I have always been passionate about dogs. My first dog was Leo who was a wonderful Golden Retriever after that I got Kira another Golden Retriever who is wonderful too. My passion for dogs made me read a lot about them. Training them personally made me become an expert in everything related to them, that's why my writing is always a mix of experience and science. My writing about dogs isn't for the sake of earning a living but instead, for the sake of benefiting people around the world.

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