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Shake it off – how to bathe your dog

Shake it off – how to bathe your dog

As happy dog owners, we’ve seen our fair share of bath-time fun. Some dogs love a bath and others will run a hundred miles. Whether your pooch is a real water-baby or not, keeping them clean is part of keeping them healthy. So bathing is an activity that can’t be avoided.

At YuMOVE, we get lots of questions about bathing dogs, so we thought we’d share our top tips with you.

Washcloths and towels at the ready!

Why does my dog need a bath?

Dogs need to be clean for their health and hygiene. You should keep an eye on their general cleanliness, especially after walkies and outdoor playtime.

How often should my dog go in the tub?

This varies from one dog to another. The general guideline is that your dog probably doesn’t need bathing very often, unless they regularly get very dirty on walks, or you notice that they are starting to smell a bit more ‘doggy’ than usual. Dogs who avoid dirt or spend a lot of time inside will only need a few baths a year, whilst those who regularly roll in the dirt will need more regular bathing.

The key test is the ‘smell test’: if you can smell your dog well before you can see him, it’s probably time for a wash.

What shampoo should I use?

We often get asked if it’s OK to wash dogs with human shampoo, or a more sensitive version, such as baby shampoo. We always recommend specialist dog shampoo – and there’s a really good reason for this.

Human products are designed for human hair and skin, which has a very different make-up to canine coats and skin which have a higher pH balance. Using human products could result in dry, itchy or irritated skin, making your dog uncomfortable and prone to scratching or dandruff.

Gentle dog shampoos are ideal, and you’ll find a wide range at the pet store. They’re not expensive, particularly if you’re only bathing your dog once in a while. What’s more, you can choose a shampoo which is designed for your dog’s hair type – long, short, wiry – they’re all out there!

What’s the best way to bathe my dog?

Dog having a bath

This is where the fun starts!

If you have a small or miniature dog, you should be able to wash them in a large sink, or flexible container in the garden.

Larger dogs will need to go in the tub or perhaps in the shower, so you might need a hand to get them in and out – trying to remove a slippery dog from the bath is no end of fun!

We’ve made this handy list for each time you bathe your pooch:


  • Have your shampoo, brush, towel and any other accessories close by and ready to use.
  • Make sure the water is lukewarm – test this by running it on the inside of your wrist or arm.
  • Wear clothes you don’t mind getting wet!


  • Avoid your dog’s head to start with. Instead, wet your dog’s body first – if you can wash and rinse it too, that’s ideal. Why? Because it’s when your dog’s head gets wet that they start to shake off the water!
  • When you wash your dog’s head, keep the shampoo well away from their mouth and eyes, where it could be an irritant and dangerous if ingested. It’s often safer to use a wash cloth or cotton pad to wipe their eyes clean.
  • Make sure you rinse your dog really well – for larger dogs, a shower attachment is good for this, or a large jug so that you can rinse with plenty of water. Leftover shampoo isn’t great for your dog’s skin, so make sure you get rid of it all.

This approach should leave your dog glowing with health from head to tail!


It’s important that you dry off your dog well – leaving their coat and skin damp can result in skin concerns and fungal growth.

  • Have a dedicated, absorbent towel and dry the coat in the direction of hair growth. Ensure you pay attention to the legs and tail, behind the ears and all those nooks and crannies.
  • If your dog needs some motivation to stay still while you do this, get someone to help you distract him with a toy or a treat so you can concentrate on drying everything.
  • We’d also recommend you speak to a professional groomer or to your vet about drying long-haired or double-coated dogs to make sure that you get them really dry with as little hassle as possible.
  • This is also a good time to administer ear drops

So fresh and so clean

Dog shaking off water

To recap:

  • Wash your dog only when they really need it
  • Make sure you use proper dog shampoo
  • Get all your equipment and accessories ready before you start
  • Make sure you dry them off thoroughly afterwards
  • Finally – don’t forget the treats! It’s not only your pooch who will deserve a big congratulations after bath time…

We hope these tips come in useful next time your doggy needs a bath. As long as you’re prepared, bath time can be a really fun process!