Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission at no extra cost to you. All opinions remain my own.
Puppies are cute and cuddly, and for the first few weeks of their lives their Mother was in charge of keeping them clean. As puppies get older they get into more adventures and often get themselves dirty, and require a little more help in keeping themselves clean. That’s where you come in, find out how to bathe a puppy for the first time, and how you can make bath time a success.
When and How Often Should You Bathe Your Puppy?
Puppies have the ability to easily get dirty. Most of the time you can get away with just wiping them clean with a damp washcloth or a disposable wipe, but sometimes they require a good cleaning, and that is when only a bath will do.
You will know when your puppy needs to have a bath, like when your puppy rolls in something bad like a dead animal or poop, or when your puppy smells or the fur feels grungy.
Puppies can be bathed at an early age, even at 8 weeks old. If you start bathing your puppy early on, they will get used to the bathing process and it will be easier for your puppy to be groomed later on.
How often you bathe your puppy is really up to you, but your puppy will not need to be bathed every day, in fact if you bathe your puppy too much it will do more harm than good. Bathing your puppy too frequently will strip away any natural oils, and will cause dry skin.
I would suggest bathing your puppy once a week or once every 2 weeks to get your puppy used to the bathing experience. When your puppy gets older you can bathe less frequently, and only when necessary.
Most dogs who are healthy and clean, only get bathed 2 or 3 times a year. It all depends on the smell of your dog, and if your dog has rolled in something nasty.
How To Introduce Your Puppy To The First Bath
Bathing your puppy for the first time can be a daunting task, but with a little preparation bath time can be a happy experience for both you and your puppy.
First you need to decide where to wash your puppy, some puppies are small enough to be able to be washed in the kitchen sink, as opposed to a big giant bathtub that could cause your puppy to panic. Keep safety in mind when using the kitchen sink, as puppies are super slippery when wet and they could wriggle out of the sink and fall onto the floor and get hurt.
You may wish to use a wash tub on the kitchen or bathroom floor as a safer alternative to the kitchen sink.
If your puppy is too large for a washtub or the sink, then you can help get your puppy used to the bathtub by placing your puppy in the tub without any water, for a few seconds a few times a day. Reward your puppy in the tub with some treats.
Take your puppy out of the tub, and turn the water on, this way your puppy can get used to the sound of running water. Everything is new to your puppy, so you will want to keep your puppy calm by speaking in a calm manner. The idea is to get your puppy used to the bathtub and sound of water running before actually having a bath.
The worst thing that you can do is place your puppy in a tub full of water without ever experiencing the sound of water running or being in a bathtub. Your puppy will be scared and traumatized, and will associate bath time with a negative experience.
Getting Ready For the Bath-Supplies Needed
Now that you have gotten your puppy used to being in a bathtub, and the sound of water running, you can actually go ahead and give your puppy a bath.
If you follow the steps listed below, bath time for you and your puppy will be a happy and successful one.
Brush Your Puppy:
Before bathing, brush your puppy to get rid of any dirt, debris and any mats and tangles. Wet fur will only aggravate any tangles and mats in your puppy’s fur.
Put On Old Clothes:
Make sure to wear old clothes or an apron, because you will get wet when your puppy shakes.
Choose A Location:
Decide where you will wash your puppy, the kitchen sink, a wash tub on the floor, or the bathtub.
Prepare The Area:
If you are using the kitchen sink or the bathtub, you will want to place a rubber mat on the bottom of the sink or tub to prevent your puppy from slipping and sliding around.
Have all of your supplies on hand within reach, towels, shampoo, treats, plastic cup, or sprayer.
Shampoo For Dogs:
You will need a shampoo that is specifically made for puppies or dogs. Never use a human shampoo as it is too harsh and disrupts the pH level in your puppy’s skin. Human shampoo will also sting your puppy’s eyes, if it accidentally gets into them.
Oatmeal shampoo is a great choice, as it is gentle and moisturizing, and works well for dry and flaky skin. If your puppy is really stinky, you may wish to use a deodorizing shampoo. Puppies with longer fur can benefit from a conditioner as well, or a 2in1 shampoo and conditioner. If possible, choose a tearless shampoo.
You will need to have one large towel on the bathroom/kitchen floor, one towel for drying your puppy off in the tub, and one towel outside of the bathroom on the floor for when your puppy runs out and rolls on the floor. A total of 3-4 towels is what you will need.
Hand Held Shower Spray:
If you are bathing your puppy in the kitchen sink, you can use the kitchen sprayer to wash and rinse your puppy. A hand-held shower spray works really well in the bathtub.
If you do not have a sprayer to use, a good idea is to use a plastic measuring cup to wash and rinse your puppy.
Treats For Your Puppy:
Have a few treats on hand to give to your puppy before, during and after the bath. Treats are a good way to offer your pup distraction, and reward for good behavior.
Extra Pair Of Hands:
Bathing your puppy for the first time will be easier if you have someone who can help you. An extra person will be able to help keep your puppy calm, and help to prevent your puppy from trying to jump out of the tub. An extra pair of hands will also speed up the whole bathing process.
Before your puppy goes into the tub, fill the tub with lukewarm water, you can do the elbow test to make sure the water is not too hot or cold. Do not fill the tub full, just enough water for your puppy to stand in, it can be level to your puppy’s knees.
Use a plastic cup to wet your puppy, or a hand-held sprayer set on low. Your pup may get spooked by spraying water, so it is important to only use a low setting. Slowly wet your puppy down, avoiding the face, and keep the sprayer close to the fur to soak it.
Apply a small amount of shampoo onto the wet fur and lather. Re-apply shampoo as needed, and be sure to avoid getting shampoo and water into your pup’s ears and eyes.
Make sure to rinse your puppy well, using lukewarm water, you will want to make sure that all the shampoo is rinsed out. Any shampoo left in the fur can cause dryness and itching, and possibly an allergic reaction. It is best to rinse twice if possible.
During the bath your puppy will probably try to jump out of the tub, this is where another pair of hands is helpful to reassure your puppy and to offer your puppy treats to keep him in the tub.
After you have rinsed off your puppy, be sure to place a towel on your puppy and dry as much water as you can to prevent any water splashing when your puppy shakes.
If your puppy has not jumped out of the tub yet, pick your puppy up out of the tub and start drying him off. This is the fun part for your puppy, your puppy will love to be dried off, and will try to run away with the towel, and engage in a game of chase and tug of war.
Your puppy will run to the nearest spot and will shake and roll around on the floor to dry off. That is why you have placed an extra towel just outside the bathroom on the floor.
Here is a short 2:11 min. video of a cute 9 week old Golden Retriever having a bath.
After The Bath
Hopefully your puppy’s first bath was a happy experience, and your bathroom or kitchen doesn’t look like a water bomb exploded. Make sure to praise your puppy and offer treats, that way the next time you bathe your puppy, your puppy will be able to tolerate the experience even more.
Puppies with short coated fur will dry quicker than those with long fur, and you may wish to use a blow-drier to dry your puppy. You will want to use the blow-drier on a low setting, and warm not hot. If your puppy is okay with the noise of the blow-drier, then use it, if not let your puppy air dry in a warm room.
Make sure that your puppy is completely dry before allowing him outside on a cold day. Puppies get chilled easily and can become sick.
How To Bathe A Puppy-Final Thoughts
With a little preparation and slowly introducing your puppy to the sights and sounds of a bath, your puppy’s first bath can be happy and successful. Bathing your puppy too often is not recommended, but you will want to get your puppy used to the bathing experience.
If you bathe your puppy every couple of weeks when they are young, they will be much more tolerable of it, and certainly bathe your puppy when needed, just don’t overdo it.
Most of the time your puppy can be cleaned with just a damp washcloth or wet wipe.
When you must bathe your puppy, remember to have extra towels on hand, and only use a shampoo meant for dogs.
How About You?
Was your puppy’s first bath a success? Please share your comments below, I would love to hear from you.