Puppies bring a wealth of new experiences, like giving them their first bath!
Puppies are a lot of work, but they can also be a lot of fun! The best part about getting a new puppy is experiencing all of their firsts. Granted, some of those firsts are a little more fun than others. All new puppy owners probably wouldn't mind skipping the first few nights of crate training and we don't know anyone who enjoys their new pet's first accident in the house. But it's all worth it for those other adorable moments, like giving your puppy a bath for the first time.
Of course, your dog's first bath may not be all bubbles and laughter either. It all depends on what kind of puppy you have, their age, temperament, and the reason why they need a bath in the first place. (An encounter with a skunk is a lot different than a romp through the mud!) Some pups don't like the idea of getting soaked head to tail, while others actually enjoy splashing around in the tub.
If you're a first-time dog owner, you may not even know where to begin. We spoke to expert Molly Bissantz, owner and dog groomer at Grooming by Molly, to get the best advice on how to give a puppy a bath.
When to Bathe a Puppy
As a general rule, puppies should not be bathed if they are younger than 6 weeks old. It can be hard to wait because puppies get dirty so easily, but consider using pet wipes or a warm washcloth to wipe your dog down instead. When your puppy is old enough for a bath, try to make it a positive experience. "Puppies should be exposed to the bath very early on in life," Bissantz says.
If you have a dog that you plan to take to the groomer often, consider taking them to a professional for their first bath. "You want to establish a good relationship with a professional so that the dog will enjoy the experience," Bissantz explains. "The professional will be able to help guide you through the process so that the puppy doesn't get traumatized at home and hate the experience."
How Often to Give a Puppy a Bath
How often you give a puppy a bath will depend on the puppy's breed, lifestyle, and coat type. Bissantz recommends monthly baths for most breeds, but says "washing when extremely dirty in-between is okay, too." Giving your dog a bath too often can strip their coat of its natural oils, so unless your pup is really dirty, using a pet wipe or washcloth will do the trick.
How to Give a Puppy a Bath, Step by Step
It's important to follow the proper steps for giving a dog a bath. Bissantz recommends following this step-by-step guide for your puppy's first bath and beyond.
1. Introduce the dog to the bathtub with treats. (Tubs can be scary!)
2. Introduce the dog to water. (Once they're comfortable with a dry tub, put the dog in the tub with a little bit of water in it.)
3. Practice drying the dog before the bath. (Dry your dog's paws and body with a towel in the bathroom.)
4. Once the dog is comfortable with the tub, water, and towels, begin bathing. Use low-pressure water or a small bucket to wet the dog. Shampoo with diluted, dog-specific shampoo. Use a gentle massage to work the shampoo into the fur and down to the skin. Avoid circular motions, which will cause friction and lead to matting.
5. Rinse well with lukewarm water until all shampoo is gone.
6. Towel dry, avoiding circular motions and motions that cause friction.
7. Gently brush the dog and dry with a blow dryer on a low- or no-heat setting. (You can also allow them to air-dry.)
8. Give the dog a treat as a reward!
If you have a smaller dog, you can always give them a bath in the kitchen sink and rinse them with the faucet. A detachable shower head can make the bathing process a lot easier if you're using the shower. In a pinch, you can also make use of a small bucket or container.
Always be sure to use special puppy or dog shampoo, because human bath products are not designed to be used on animals' skin or coats. Although they're small, you don't have to worry too much about puppies getting cold in the bath—dogs are excellent at regulating their own body temperature. However, they can get water into their lungs if you're not careful. Also remember to keep water out of your dog's ears! You can use cotton balls to clean and dry your pup's ears post-bath to ensure there isn't any lingering water that might cause an infection.
Must-Have Bath Products for Puppies
1. Puppy Shampoo
Puppies cannot use human shampoo, even if it's baby shampoo. The pH of their skin is different, so it's best to use a specially formulated dog shampoo. This shampoo is gentle on puppies' coats and it's tearless, which will make you feel a little less guilty if some gets into your pup's eyes.
2. Pet Shampoo Brush
This silicone brush is easy to clean and does a marvelous job getting into thick fur. Burs, leaves, and dirt scrub easily out of your pup's fur. It also helps with the even distribution of shampoo.
3. Microfiber Towel
The last thing anyone wants is their puppy shaking all over the bathroom and getting everything wet. While the puppy is still in the tub, use this microfiber towel to sop up any excess water and get them dry. Of course, they will still want to shake, but they will have a lot less to work with after you use this.
4. Shower Sprayer
Having a handheld shower sprayer makes the process of bathing your dog so much easier. This particular tool is designed especially for pups and helps get out all of the suds, ensuring a thorough rinsing. Dirt and grime won't stand a chance against this sprayer!
5. Puppy Grooming Kit
As fun as it is to buy things for your puppy, we're suckers for an affordable kit! This puppy grooming kit literally has everything you need for your puppy's first bath. (Minus the pooch, of course.) Your puppy will be looking show-ready in no time with the help of these tools.
Editor's Note: Products featured on Wide Open Pets are independently selected by our editors. However, when you buy something through our links, we may earn a commission.
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