Giving a Dog a Bath

Category Grooming
Dog owners love to have their favorite pets looking and smelling good. Bathing your dog at home is an excellent way to save money on pet grooming. This is a page about giving a dog a bath.


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One of my long-haired Chihuahuas is now 6 years old, but right from day one she has hated being bathed. I normally use a detachable rubber shower hose so I can wash the dogs in the laundry tub, but with her, it took two of us to hold her in the tub; she was like a demented wild cat, it was so stressful for her and me.

I decided to try taking her in the shower with me and it worked like a charm. I hold her in my arms with the water running gently. Having a very long coat, it takes a bit to wash all her parts. I can turn her over on her back and wash her tummy properly, around her genital area and tail and even have the water running on her head.


I think she feels safe and secure because I'm holding her firmly. No doubt it would be a funny sight, but as long as she's not stressed, I'm happy. She then stands on the shower floor and shakes on command whilst I get out and grab the towels. It would be impossible with a bigger dog, but for us it's magic!

She also lays on my legs while I finish drying her with the blow dryer on cool temperature. She is very pampered, but I love her.

By Lois from Qld, Australia

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Editor's Note: The tip below recommends using tea tree oil for the treatment of fleas. It's been brought to our attention that using significant amounts of tea tree oil may be dangerous to your pet. Here's quote from ASPCA's website:
Tea tree, or Melaleuca alternifolia oil, does have toxic potential, depending on the circumstances of exposure. Clinical effects that may occur following dermal exposure to significant amounts of tea tree oil include loss of coordination, muscle weakness, depression, and possibly even a severe drop in body temperature, collapse and liver damage. If the oil is ingested, potential effects include vomiting, diarrhea and, in some cases, seizures. If inhalation of the oil occurs, aspiration pneumonia is possible. Read more here...
To be on the safe side, be sure to consult with you vet about using any homemade flea treatment.
I have been giving baths to my husband's German Shepherd mix dog, and I use the Tea Tree and Dawn mixed with water to bathe her with. She no longer has the tumors or warts she had on her back, above her tail at the end of her spine. These were huge wart like growths. There are a number of things which might be the reason for this improvement.

No Store Bought Treats

She now gets only human treats. I usually by her a bag of honey turkey, that costs .75 cents at my store. I never give her any human food that is wheat or bread or corn in nature. She eats Pedigree dry dog food, and it seems to be doing well for her. There are other better foods out there, like Authority, Pro Plan, Blue Buffalo.

No Topical Flea Treatments

She takes a Comfortis tablet once a month, or whenever she seems to need it. It seems to work more than a month at a time, although it is supposed to be given once a month.

Dawn and Tea Tree Oil Bath

The unhealthy buildup on her coat is gone. These baths help her skin to breathe and kills any kind of yeast and the tea tree oil is like an antiseptic also.


  • Tea tree oil from Walgreens or pharmacy. It must be in a dark bottle.
  • Dawn dishwashing soap (the blue kind)
  • Plastic cup, large size to mix up the oil and Dawn and water in.


Put a capfull of the tea tree oil in plastic cup. Notice I said capfull and not cup-full. Add to that about 1/4 cup of Dawn diswashing liquid, the blue original kind. No need to be exact. I go by how high it fills the cup. I put about an inch to an inch and a half high of Dawn in the cup. Wiggle the cup around a little to mix the two ingredients. Set aside where it will not be spilled.

After wetting Dutchess' coat very, very, very good with warm water and making sure she is sopping wet, fill up the Solo cup halfway with water that already has the Dawn and oil mixture.

Stir it really well with your fingers, mixing the tea tree oil and the Dawn. Then fill it up the rest of the way. Mix again with fingers. I pour the contents of the plastic cup onto a very wet Dutchess coat and lather into a rich lather.


If the dog's coat does not lather, even though it is sopping wet, make up another bunch and use it until you know it is on the dog's coat deep down to the skin and rubbed in, gently.

Only if the dog is wet, will it lather up really easy. Make sure to get the legs. The stomach is important too. Also don't forget to rinse the stomach and chest area. These areas might not lather up as much as the back but it is still doing a good job for those areas.

I always let the solution stay on Dutchess for about three to five minutes. It really doesn't matter, just try to let it stay on there at least a minute or two. I use this time to praise her and tell her how good she is doing.

When it is rinsing time, don't ever spray the face or facial area with water or get soap or anything on the face. If you get soap on the face, wipe it off with a dripping washrag. Rinsing does not mean going over once with the shower head attachment. Rinsing means adding a little bit of water, and lathering up the soap that is already on her, and then rinsing and rinsing and more rinsing.


This is what gets all the dead and gross stuff off the skin. A well rinsed dog is a happy dog. If the soap stays on the skin, it will turn into muck, attract dirt and cause problems by matting up and not letting the skin get air to breathe.

I then get a nice bath cloth and squeeze it out slightly. I wash Dutchess' face with this and go over the rims of her ears. This is where she needs it the most. I had put some of the bathwater on her ears and her face before and now I just wipe it off with a wash cloth a few times.

I put a towel or my robe on the floor and call her out of the tub. She shakes and we go outside and take pictures. She is smiling in one of them. She knows we will either go on a car ride and get a human grade treat or go to the park and walk around in the warm sun.

Here is Dutchess on the patio in a towel, smiling with the few teeth she has left after 10 years. This is my favorite picture of her!

By Robyn Fed from Tri-Cities, TN

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January 20, 2006

When bathing your dog or cat, dilute the shampoo with water so it is a 1:1 ratio. Then pour the mixture in a clean spray bottle.

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I just discovered this by accident and wondered if anyone knew this and why I didn't. Instead of chasing my dog around the laundry tub to give him a bath, I put him in my double sink with the divider between his front and back legs.

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I have found that using a shammy (like you use for drying off your car after washing it) is fantastic for drying your pet after her bath. They hold a tremendous amount of water, are much easier to use and better that a bath towel.

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Catherine Forman
April 11, 2006

Tips for giving your a dog a bath. It's a dirty job, but somebody's gotta do it. Two factors make giving your dog a bath a huge undertaking: The size of your dog and how much your dog likes (or hates) water.

wet white dog

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My Lab/Husky mix has thick hair. Once a month during the warm days, I will take plain vinegar and mix it to a sprayer (just like you were spraying your plants) and spray the dog.

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Do you have a large dog that hates water and baths? I take two leashes, put one around the dog's collar (so he thinks he's going for a walk) hook it up tightly to a fence. Take 2nd leash and wrap it around the underside of his hind legs tightly.

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Using baby shampoo, even the cheap stuff, as long as it really is sensitive, is perfectly fine for dogs and cats. Cats don't need to be bathed at all unless they get into something that's gotten them extremely dirty. They clean themselves.

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Bathe you dog in the tub? Catch his hair before it clogs the drain. Save the netted bags that potatoes and onions come in. Scrunch one up tightly and stick it down into the drain before letting the water out. All of the dog hair will collect around the top of it. Then, just toss it in the trash.

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To help keep a dog secure during a bath, place a yoga mat in the tub before bathing the dog. This will provide a non-slip surface that will hold the dog in place during the bath.

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November 14, 2004

When bathing your pets, do it outside on the lawn or near plants that need watering.

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May 20, 2009

If your dog hates a bath like mine do, I give them a sponge bath. Fill the sink with water and wet them with their own face cloths. Soap them up and rinse them off. Towel dry them and they are now clean once again.

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Most dogs that have itchy skin, have yeast as at least a part of the problem. Oatmeal is a grain. Yeast feeds on grain. Tea Tree oil shampoo would be a better solution.

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Bathing your dog indoors can be very messy. I hate cleaning the dog hair out of the bath tub when they are bathed in the house. I prefer to do it outside when the weather permits.

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Ask a QuestionHere are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community or ask a new question.

July 5, 2011

How often can I bathe my one year old dog in Dawn?

By ashleyrocks from Dallas, TX


July 5, 20110 found this helpful

I've always given my dogs 2-3 weeks before bathing them again...unless they roll in something of course.
also to help their skin bounce back from losing the natural oils they need and to neutralize the wet dog smell use vinegar and water rinse. i do 2part vinegar 1 part water. remember to give them a slight rinse after using the vinegar.

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July 21, 2005

Tips to help you when giving your dog a bath. Post your ideas.


June 4, 20050 found this helpful

I have two dogs that love to swim. I throw a stick for them in the lake and get them nice and wet. Then I lather them up with dog shampoo and throw the stick in the lake to get them rinsed. There you have any easy dog bath.

By christine rogalski

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By edieparks (Guest Post)
June 4, 20050 found this helpful

I am a dog groomer. My best tip is to use baby shampoo on your pets face. It is tearless and you can give the face a good scrubbing.


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By guest (Guest Post)
June 5, 20050 found this helpful

I give my dogs a bath in the shower. They love the massage setting on the shower head, which is a handheld, so I can get the water into their fur and make sure I get all the soap out. Also, when they shake off, they don't get the entire room wet, just the shower. Then we towel off in there and they run around like crazy all over the house. During flea season I use the tub and fill it up so my little dog is mostly underwater except his head and part of his neck. I tell them to "sit" for a minute or two in the water after they are cleaned up. This drowns any fleas that may be on them. The fleas float off and I scoop them out into a cup and just pour them back in when I let the water out of the tub.

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By Claudia (Guest Post)
June 6, 20050 found this helpful

Sure wish I had a lake handy! That sounds easy and fun for the dogs! I tried washing my two long-haired dachshunds in the shower, but they shed so much, all the hair in the tub really grossed me out. So it's the basement laundry tubs for us! Tearless shampoo is great and I also apply a sweet smelling conditioner which helps untangle their coats.

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September 23, 2013

What are the benefits to be gained from a beer bath for my dog?

By D Hall

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I heard Dawn was also good for giving pets a bath. I was wondering if I could give my Yorkie a bath using the green Dawn ultra antibacterial soap?

By Kayla

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