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When bringing home a new little bundle of furry joy, many proud puppy parents focus on food, cuddles, toys, and all kinds of other fun puppy stuff. At some point, though, your new furry friend might start to develop a bit of doggy smell, which means it’s bath time for the little fluffy one. As a good pet parent, you should know how to bathe a puppy properly.
Part of your puppy’s care involves regular baths, and most breeds do well with a monthly bath schedule. Monthly baths help slough off dead skin cells and loose hairs, reducing your pup’s shedding and dander. This effort could help reduce allergic reactions and keep you from having to invest in a whole stash of lint-removal products.
While it seems like a simple task, there are a decent number of details to consider regarding how to bathe a puppy so that you and your pet can make bath time an enjoyable experience every time. Read on for more puppy bathing tips.
When Should You Start Bathing Your Puppy?
The earliest age you’ll want to bathe a puppy is at four weeks, in part because they have a hard time regulating their body temperature and can become chilled or overheated. Some recommend, however, that unless your fur baby has been playing in a mud puddle, it’s better to wait until your pup is six to eight weeks since the new bathing experience could also provoke anxiety or feel traumatic. You can also get your vet’s advice on when your furry one should have its first puppy bath.
You’re Establishing a Routine
If you start bathing your puppy once a month from the beginning and bathe it consistently, you’ll make bath time much easier for both of you. When giving baths, you are essentially pet training on how to behave while it’s being washed. Your pet will likely need much more than just one bath session to get used to the whole experience. Take your time, be gentle, offer treats and reassurance, and over time your puppy might even start to like baths.
How To Bathe A Puppy (The First Bath)
To introduce your new puppy to its first bath, start with lukewarm water and a small towel or dishcloth. If your dog is just a few months old, it likely won’t need soap or puppy shampoo yet, and this gives your pet a chance to adjust to the idea of getting wet without the additional step of adding shampoo, scent, and bubbles to the experience.
After a few warm water baths, you can move on to shampooing by using a small amount of diluted puppy shampoo and massaging it into your pet’s back, sides, stomach, legs, and tail. Take care to avoid your dog’s ears, eyes, nose, and mouth. When first learning how to clean your dog’s face, begin with a warm cloth wet with water then gently wipe the facial areas.
For your new fur baby’s first shampoo bath, you can probably handle the task at home using your sink. Puppies and adult dogs can overheat quickly, so keep tabs on the temperature of the water and run it slightly warm rather than cool or cold.
Consider bathing it using a plastic tub or your regular bathtub as your puppy grows. Consider visiting a do-it-yourself pet-bathing facility for larger breeds or very squirmy pups. These establishments typically have deep tubs equipped with a hook for dog leashes and a showerhead-type water sprayer on a hose. These sprayers have good water pressure to make it easier to remove suds and dirt from your dog’s fur.
Prep for Bath Time Success
When new puppy parents learn how to bathe a puppy, helpful puppy bathing tips make the process easier . Before you start running the bathwater, lay out everything you need in advance, and make sure it’s within reach while bathing your puppy. Hopefully, you won’t have to find out the hard way the challenges of keeping your soggy pup from fleeing the sink or tub while simultaneously walking across the room to grab the shampoo or a towel.
To prevent ear infections and other issues, place a dry cloth over your puppy’s ears and face during the bath while you’re washing and rinsing the neck area. This method keeps water and shampoo from seeping into the ear canal, eyes, nose, or mouth.
Have your puppy shampoo and conditioner ready, along with a small comb to remove any tangles, twigs, or matted dog hair and a small pair of scissors. The scissors come in handy to cut out any thick matted or tangled fur that won’t comb out. On the off chance that your little furry friend has had a bout of diarrhea, it’s also helpful to have some disposable rubber gloves handy to wash the area underneath the tail while avoiding any spread of bacteria.
Consider Your Dog’s Temperament
Many puppies take some time to get used to the unfamiliar feeling of water and wetness when you bathe them. Some breeds take to baths immediately, while others tremble like a leaf before they’ve even gotten wet! To keep your pup on good terms with bath time, proceed gently, and keep in mind that if your puppy keeps trying to escape, it’s not misbehaving; it’s just scared.
The more scared your dog feels the more treats, cuddles, and soothing talk you’ll want to use before and after the puppy bath so that your pooch builds a positive connection to the whole bathing process. Some higher-energy breeds might not ever be able to relax during a bath, but with positive reinforcement, they’ll be able to tolerate the whole thing at least.
If your pup hates taking baths, you might need to enlist the help of a partner to hold your puppy while you lather and rinse. Your helper can also distract your dog with some treats, dispensed one at a time for the bath duration. This little trick can keep the puppy distracted enough to let you get through the whole bath without your dog continually trying to slither out of reach.
Consider Your Pup’s Coat Type and Skin Condition
Pet shampoos are usually gentle on your pet’s fur, but if your puppy has a short coat, it might not need bathing quite as often. Longer fur can become dry, just like human hair, and need gentle washing with more frequent conditioning. It also tends to collect more dirt, twigs, and other foreign matter.
Some dogs don’t need bathing as often because the natural oils in their fur repel dirt and keep the fur in good condition. Regular brushing is the secret. Your vet can give you more information on your specific breed’s fur type. However, you must also know how to brush different coats. For this type of fur, you’ll need to brush often to remove dead skin cells and shed fur. Certain dog breeds, such as Huskies, have a dense undercoat that requires regular brushing to prevent overheating during the warm weather months.
Certain breeds, such as Yorkshire Terriers, have fine silky “hair” that grows long, tangles easily, and requires more care. If you bathe them carefully and keep their hair trimmed, you can usually keep their coat in good condition. This type of dog may require a periodic visit to the groomers for some specialized trimming and care.
While bathing your puppy, especially if it’s a longer-haired breed, check behind its ears, and other areas of its body, for any small areas of matted hair. Matted clumps of fur can develop in dog fur that’s long and fine, even if you brush them.
If you catch furry matted areas while they’re still small, you can try rubbing conditioner into them and easing apart the tangled fur while taking care not to pull the hair away from your puppy’s skin. If the fur mats become more significant, you must carefully remove them with a razor comb or small scissors.
If your puppy has any skin condition, such as a rash, try adding some ground oatmeal to the bathwater and let your fur baby soak for five to 10 minutes to soothe the itching. For puppies with smelly fur, you can add baking soda to the bathwater to help deodorize their coat.
Check Your Puppy Shampoo and Conditioner Products
Puppies have a different optimal pH level for their fur and skin than humans, so it’s best to purchase shampoos and conditioners made especially for dogs. Otherwise, you risk giving your pup dry, itchy skin and a dull, rough coat of fur. Take care not just to choose the cheapest pet shampoo option, however, because some shampoos and conditioners could be heavy on synthetic ingredients or chemicals that you wouldn’t even use on your hair, much less your puppy’s fur.
When applying the shampoo, dilute it first with some water so that you can easily massage the suds into your dog’s coat. On the other hand, read the label if your puppy has a prescribed medicated shampoo. You might need to use the shampoo at full strength and leave it on the fur for a short amount of time before rinsing.
How to Rinse Your Puppy’s Fur
Once you’re done with the shampooing and ready to rinse your puppy, it’s time for congratulations! You’ve both made it to the home stretch. It’s helpful to have a large empty cup for rinsing or a spray nozzle and hose on your water source so that you can run a large amount of water through your puppy’s fur. This process helps ensure that you rinse all traces of shampoo out of your pet’s coat. Any traces of unrinsed shampoo or conditioner will attract dirt and give your dog’s fur a limp, unclean appearance.
Get your puppy-drying strategy ready ahead of time because once your little one gets out of the bath, they might not be very easy to control. Try laying a large towel out on the floor, then pick your pet up out of the tub and place them down on the towel. Then immediately wrap up your pet and rub and squeeze the fur out to absorb as much water as possible with the towel. Dry your puppy as much as you can in a warm room to keep your pet comfortable while it’s still drying.
For some reason, after a bath, many dogs love to run immediately outside onto the grass or dirt, roll over and rub their whole body. Maybe it’s because they’re excited that the bath is over, but to avoid undoing all of your hard work, keep your puppy leashed or keep it inside until its fur has dried completely.
Some puppies can tolerate being dried with a blow dryer, while others experience a lot of fear because of the loud noise and the force of the air. If your pup tolerates the dryer, use the coolest setting, and take care not to overheat your pet while drying its fur. It helps to bathe your pup during the day, preferably when the air is warm enough so that its fur can air-dry after a good toweling-off.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
At what age can you bathe a puppy?
If necessary, you can bathe your puppy after four weeks, but it’s recommended to wait until your fur baby is at least eight to 10 weeks old before you start giving baths.
How do you bathe a puppy for the first time?
The very first time you bathe your little puppy, use a wet rag and wipe down your pet’s fur. Add in some treats and gentle talking while you introduce your pup to water and the feeling of washing its coat. Take care to dry your fur baby and keep it warm. Young puppies have trouble regulating their body temperature, and they can become chilled or overheated easily.
How do you bathe an 8 week old puppy?
Give your eight-week-old puppy its first bath with a wet rag and wipe down its fur and face. Once your little one gets used to the water, start placing your pup in the sink with a small amount of lukewarm water. Use treats and a gentle voice to keep your baby calm, and use diluted dog shampoo to massage through its fur.
Take care to rinse your puppy’s coat gently yet thoroughly, and towel-dry as much as you can. Keep your puppy inside and warm while it’s wet, and use a hairdryer on the cool and low settings if needed to finish the drying process.
How do you wash a puppy at home?
You can bathe your puppy in the sink while it’s still small or in the bathtub. You can also use a separate plastic tub if needed. Ease into the bathing process with a wet-rag wipe down first, then graduate to a bath with running water and diluted shampoo. Reward your puppy and make baths a regular and pleasant experience, and your dog might even start looking forward to bath time.