Keeping your dog clean is one of the most important means of keeping him healthy. However, preparing to bathe a puppy for the first time is likely a nerve-wracking experience. It doesn’t have to be, however. Puppies will get into situations where they need to be bathed; unfortunately, puppies may roll in waste or they may get dirty when eating and drinking. It’s important to know when as well as how to bathe a puppy.
However, one of the most important things we pet parents fail to consider (inadvertently, of course) is the fact that how to socialize a dog especially puppies to any part of the grooming process. Like bathing and dressing a toddler, bathing a puppy can be a task that requires patience and a positive attitude.
The goal for bathing your puppy and socializing her so that she learns to enjoy bath time is to make it enjoyable for her. As she grows, she will not fight a bath so much nor will she be fearful of water.
1. First, you should find a truly all-natural puppy shampoo (and conditioner, if you so choose).
Many pet parents don’t realize that they are a “niche” market for many companies. However, in 2020 alone, pet parents spent a whopping $103.6 billion (yes, billion with a “b”) on their fur babies. This number includes food, toys, dog beds, and other essentials, including dog shampoo and conditioner.
Think about the last time you went to the pet store to pick up something for your dog. If you looked over at the shampoo and conditioner, you may have noticed some that are oatmeal-colored, while others may be a bright pink or blue. Occasionally, there will be a shampoo that is a very light yellow.
Now, keep in mind that your dog doesn’t see colors the way we humans do. In fact, you’re never going to be able to grill your pup and ask what her favorite color might be. In other words, who are those bright pink, fancy-looking bottles of shampoo marketed to? Puppy parents, of course! However, these products could actually be harmful to your dog in a number of ways.
That bright pink or blue? That’s an artificial color derived from chemicals. A shampoo that promises lots of lather? Again, there’s another chemical reaction that creates all that foam; it is also quite harmful to Fido’s skin. The strong fragrance in many of these popular shampoos? You guessed it; chemicals that can dry out your dog’s skin in the least are plentiful in these shampoos. What’s worse is these shampoos are often marketed as “natural” or “derived from all-natural ingredients.”
You’ll want a gentle puppy shampoo so, it is important to know what is in the product you purchase before bathing Fido.
In a nutshell, you’ll want to look at the ingredients list. Avoid the following ingredients:
- propylene glycol
- sodium Laureth sulfate
- MEA/ Cocomide DEA
- methylparaben (or any parabens)
- artificial colors (blue #5, for example)
- isopropyl alcohol
If there is an ingredient in the shampoo that looks like it might be a chemical (but not on the preceding list), avoid it.
Here’s the gist of a truly all-natural shampoo: choose a shampoo that is a very light yellow (it will probably look almost clear), possesses very little fragrance, is thin (almost like water).
2. Be sure to choose an all-natural shampoo that is best for your dog’s coat type.
Short coats will need more oil (however, avoid mineral oil). Longer coats will need humectants or extra moisturizers.
Conditioners are not always necessary; however, if you prefer, just check the ingredients list to ensure that you’re not putting harmful chemicals on your pup’s tender skin. It’s also helpful to know how to moisturize dry skin on dogs.
3. Begin socialization.
Before you bathe Fido, be sure to have plenty of treats around to reward (even the most insignificant) good behavior. Remember, you want to make this a pleasurable experience for your puppy so that she will grow to enjoy the bath.
Puppies can be bathed at eight weeks of age. However, if you can put off the actual bath, you may want to carry out some other grooming jobs in order to begin socialization. It is important to make sure your puppy doesn’t very the bath as scary.
Turn on the faucet and get Fido used to hear the water run. Later in life, if Fido hears the water come on (and he previously associates bathing with a negative experience), you’d better believe he’ll run and try to do anything to avoid bath time.
Get out some of the instruments you’ll be using to bathe your puppy. Let him sniff the items. Run a brush over his body. Take the time to talk soothingly to him and to make him feel comfortable.
4. Break him into a bath time routine slowly.
The first time you give a puppy bath, it is probably best not to even use products on him. In fact, you might be better served to use a washcloth and a pan of lukewarm water to simply introduce him to the practice.
This is another step in socialization. Allow him to hear you wringing water out of the bath cloth. Be careful about using the damp cloth on his head. It might be a good idea to “show” him the wet cloth while you gently run it over his feet. Next, run the cloth over his back and rear legs.
Before you use the cloth to clean his face, rinse it and wring it out so there’s no excess water. Be sure he can see the cloth; wipe along with his mouth and muzzle. When wiping the cloth around the ears, be sure no excess water runs into Fido’s ears. This could cause a nasty ear infection. Be gentle around Fido’s eyes, and, since this is the most stressful part of the cleaning process for both you and your pup. Be sure to treat and praise Fido so that he begins to feel safe and understand he’s rewarded for good behavior.
5. You can begin using a real dog shampoo at around twelve weeks or three months of age.
After a month of bathing with a damp bath cloth, Fido should be fairly socialized to the process. You’ll likely notice he becomes more relaxed as you carry out the “bath cloth wash.” At this time, around three months of age, you can begin to add a truly all-natural shampoo (and a conditioner if you wish) to the bath.
Most groomers will advise choosing a product made with plant-based products. However, remember that some shampoos will try to claim an “all-natural” status while saying they have “derived” some products from plants .
To be honest, truly natural shampoo is going to be a little more expensive to produce, so you’ll pay more for that product. However, remember, you’ll pay way more in vet bills when Fido develops skin issues.
6. Simple—be gentle during the bathing process.
Keep in mind that bathing a young puppy is a lot like bathing a human infant. Bathe your pup in a warm room using warm water. Never scrub Fido’s baby skin. What you want to do is to use water to assist you in moving the shampoo naturally through Fido’s coat. Move the shampoo and water in the direction of the puppy’s coat. If you have to brush and blow-dry your pup’s hair, use the same type of motion.
7. Be careful around Fido’s face.
We’ve already talked about using a damp bath cloth around Fido’s eyes and ears. However, keep in mind that a three-month-old or four-month-old puppy is still a little apprehensive when it comes to bathing, no matter how well you socialize him. He may shake his head or try to “escape” the bath. So, it is always, always important to make sure you don’t get a lot of soap around Fido’s eyes, ears, nose, and mouth. It’s important to learn how to wash a dog’s face properly.
In fact, you’ll probably want to continue to clean your puppy’s face with the damp bath cloth ONLY. Never pour water over your dog’s head in an effort to rinse the soap away. This can get in your dog’s ears (remember, an infection can set up) or the soap and water can get in his eyes, causing a lot of discomforts.
Another good idea from top groomers is to pinch the base of the ear when cleaning your dog’s facial area.
8. Rinsing is a must
Leftover soap on Fido’s skin can dry it out at the least and possibly cause itching that leads to hair loss at the worst. If you have an attachment on your shower, turn it on the lowest setting and gently rinse Fido until you can see that the soap is all washed away.
If you are using a cup to pour water over your dog, be sure to keep an eye on his belly and legs. It is hard to make sure your dog is fully rinsed when using this type of rinsing method, but it can be done.
9. Let’s talk about conditioner.
It is important to make sure that you don’t strip important natural oils from Fido’s coat when bathing him. In truth, unless your puppy gets really dirty, bathing him every four to six weeks is plenty. However, if you need to bathe him more often, then consider choosing a conditioner to put some of those moisturizers back into Fido’s fur.
It is important to make sure that you rinse all the conditioner away from Fido’s skin, just as you did with the shampoo. Again, be sure to get tricky areas like the legs and the tummy.
10. To dry, or not to dry
You can use a small blow dryer (much like the one you likely already own) or you can get a blow dryer that groomers use. The groomers’ dryer will not be nearly as loud and scary as a traditional dryer might be. In fact, make sure you’ve exposed your puppy to the sound of a blow dryer before you ever bathe Fido.
Be gentle. Turn the dryer on the lowest setting. Make sure the dryer isn’t too hot on Puppy’s gentle skin. It’s also very important to make sure that you praise and treat your dog for good behavior during this time.
1. At what age can you bathe a puppy?
One can begin bathing a puppy around eight weeks of age. However, at that age, it is important to use a damp bath cloth and lukewarm water to bathe your puppy. It is best not to put any kind of product on your dog until she is at least three months old.
2. How do you give a puppy a bath for the first time?
The best way to give a puppy a bath for the first time is to use lukewarm water and a damp bath cloth to wipe over your puppy’s gentle skin.
3. How do you give a puppy a bath?
You will want to socialize your puppy before giving him a real bath. Be sure to get him used to hear the sound of running water as well as a blow dryer if you’ll be using one in the future.
4. Can you bathe a puppy at 8 weeks old?
Yes, bathing a puppy at the age of eight weeks is the best time to begin a bath routine. However, you should never bathe a puppy with shampoo and conditioner until she is about twelve weeks old.