How to Bathe a Puppy in the Least Stressful Way Possible

Congratulations on Your New Puppy!

Whether you have adopted, found, purchased, or been given a puppy, we would like to congratulate you on your newest addition to your family! Of course, puppies do not come with an instruction manual and this can have you freaking out when you get home, especially when it comes to bath time, but not to worry! Below, we have provided you with some tips on how to bathe your puppy in the least stressful ways possible.

Getting Started:

Bath time can be nerve-wracking for all puppies, especially those who are new to the experience.

To get started, you should gently introduce your dog to the bathtub, sink, or area in which you intend to wash him or her. Offer treats to your puppy and place him or her in the tub without the water on at first and give lots of praise. This will help ease your puppy’s mind and demonstrate that this is not an area to be feared and it is not a punishment.

You’ll want to turn on the water, lukewarm (never cold or hot) and gently encourage your puppy to explore the water. He or she might be hesitant, so do not force your puppy and always give lots of praise and kind words. You can choose to partially fill the tub or sink, up to your puppy’s ankles or just barely above; you do not want the tub to be so full that your dog can swim or submerge himself in the water; this will only cause a mess and stress out your puppy.

how to bathe a puppy

What Type of Shampoo to Use:

When choosing the type of shampoo to use, make sure it is tear-free. Puppy shampoo is always the best choice, with Johnson’s Baby shampoo being a close second. We do not recommend using a dog shampoo since most brands are not tear-free and usually contain a lot of fragrance that can irritate your puppy’s skin. Most puppy shampoos are gentle on your dog’s skin and do not contain a lot of fragrances that are put into dog shampoos to reduce odor.

Washing Your Puppy:

When wetting your dog, never stick him or her under the showerhead or running water. This will startle your puppy and stress him or her out. Instead, use a cup or detachable showerhead to wet your puppy thoroughly. If using the showerhead, gently rest it against your dog’s body and give lots of kind words. Having the water against their skin will greatly reduce the stress factor and if using a cup, keep it close to their skin as well when wetting them. Never pour water directly onto your puppy’s face! The water can get into their eyes, which does sting, and in the very least will give your puppy anxiety. When rinsing or wetting the face, always shield your puppy’s eyes, tilt the head back, and rinse with the water pointing from the top of their head back.

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When shampooing your puppy, always avoid putting soap directly onto your dog’s face and do your best to keep it out of his or her eyes; even if it is tear-free. You may wash the top of your dog’s head and use the soap on your hands to gently wash around his mouth and nose, always avoiding the eyes. Rub the shampoo into the fur from front to back; avoid making circles if your puppy has longer fur since this will cause painful tangles. Washing in a front to back scrubbing motion will remove dead fur, skin, and gently cleanse your puppy.

When rinsing, make sure you rinse your puppy thoroughly; you do not want any soap residue left behind that your puppy may accidentally lick and ingest. Remember to tilt your dog’s head back when rinsing around the face and you can use your hands to work the shampoo back up to the surface while rinsing. Continue to keep the cup or showerhead close to your dog’s skin.

Drying Off:

Gently squeeze your puppy’s legs, ears (very gently!!), tail, paws, and around the body to remove the extra water. Never squeeze your puppy hard or pull on the fur to wring it dry. Transfer your puppy to a towel and rub him or her all over with the towel, taking care to dry his or her face thoroughly. He or she might be slightly damp still after the toweling and this is fine as long as the puppy is not dripping wet. Now, reward your puppy with lots of praise and even some treats. You can even make him some tasty homemade dog biscuits for this special occasion.

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