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Bathing Your Puppy for the First Time

Updated on January 27, 2011

Bathing your puppy can be an extremely challenging task – especially if you have never attempted to do it before! Many new puppy owners aren’t sure exactly how they should go about giving their puppy a bath for the first time. I had absolutely no clue what I was doing when I first got my puppy Molly! The first time you give your puppy a bath it may seem scary, but it will be well worth it!

Unfortunately, many puppies do not like baths at all, especially at first. The good new is, most will get used to being bathed if you do it on a regular basis, and are gentle with them during bath time.

If your dog is small enough, you may opt to bath your puppy in the kitchen sink the first couple of times. Just make sure your puppy does not jump out! As soon as you start getting them wet, many young puppies won’t understand what is going on and will bark or whine and scratch at the sides to get out. Molly certainly tried her best to escape what she must have thought was her certain doom during her first couple of baths! Even though she always freaked out at first, she has gotten much better about behaving nicely during her bath time as time has gone by. If you have a larger puppy, the bathtub is probably the best place for bathing. They will not be able to jump out quite as easily – but definitely prepare your self to get soaked! Although you will honestly more than likely get soaked no matter where you chose to bath your puppy!

When you are getting ready to start the bath, it is a great idea to get everything set out before hand. Some of what you may need includes: puppy shampoo and conditioner, a towel, something to help you rinse of your puppy such as a large cup, and treats to reward your puppy for good behavior. You can purchase many different brands of puppy shampoos that are tearless and will not hurt your puppy if the shampoo gets into their eyes. The conditioner makes your puppy’s hair soft and silky. It will also help to condition your puppy’s coat and skin to help prevent it from becoming too dried out.

When you have everything prepared, fill the tub up about a couple inches (more for bigger puppies, less for smaller ones) with luke-warm water – not too hot and not too cold for your sensitive puppy. After you have gotten the puppy completely wet, lather up some shampoo between your hands and work it into your puppy’s fur. Make sure to get them clean everywhere! Be extremely careful around their face; try not to get water into their eyes, nose, or ears. It is a good idea to stick cotton balls in your puppy’s ears – especially if you have a floppy eared puppy. Getting water in your puppy’s ear can cause it to get stuck deep in the ear canal and possibly become infected. After you have completely washed your puppy (and applied conditioner if desired) make sure to rinse the shampoo and conditioner completely out of the coat, as leaving any residue can cause your puppy to become irritated and scratch at his skin.

When you are done giving your puppy a bath, offer a treat and be sure to give your puppy lots of praise! Gently get your puppy out of the bathtub with a towel and towel dry the puppy for a minute or so. You will be surprised how much water a towel will soak up off of your puppy! Some people choose to also dry their puppy with a hair dryer, and this is a great idea, especially in the winter when homes are generally colder. Molly could never stand the hair dryer, so I always just tried to get her as dry as possible with the towel and let her run around afterwards.

Although giving your puppy a bath for the first time might seem intimidating, it really isn’t so bad at all, and you will be delighted to have a sweet smelling puppy!



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    • Donna Janelle profile imageAUTHOR

      Donna Janelle 

      8 years ago from Oklahoma

      Oh my! Puppies can make such messes!! But they are so worth it :)

      Thanks for commenting!

    • TurtleDog profile image


      8 years ago

      Thanks for posting on the doggie bath! As you mentioned in the beginning, be careful they don't jump out! I had the dog jump out, jump into my bed and under the covers, water, soap and all. I was washing more than just the dog that day :-)

      Thanks! voted UP

    • Donna Janelle profile imageAUTHOR

      Donna Janelle 

      8 years ago from Oklahoma

      Thanks Elisa! I think it is a great idea to put a towel in the dryer during her bath so she can be nice and warm afterwords. I will have to try that next time!

      Aunt Debbie, I wish Molly liked her fur dried as much as Tara does! :) She can't stand the dryer being used on her at all, although she has gotten better as she has gotten older!

      Jillsama, I have seen those adjustable shower heads, and even thought about buying one, but I never have. I really should consider it though, I'm sure it makes bathing puppies (and dogs!) much easier!

    • jillsama profile image


      8 years ago from Gwinnett County Georgia

      That puppy is adorable. I found my puppies adjusted easier to bathing when I added an adjustable shower head that has different pressure settings. They really enjoy it :)

    • profile image

      Debbie B 

      8 years ago

      Tara tolerates her bath - I think because looks forward to the drying time with the blow dryer! When she was a puppy, every time I dried my own hair, she would rush up and wait for her own grooming time. So cute.

      One warning though. We may love how sweet they smell after a bath, but we had to watch Tara closely whenever she went out for the first day or so afterwards - she couldn't wait to roll in something nasty (I guess that must be preferable to a doggie palate....), and then she wasn't so sweet smelling :)

    • Elisa Taylor profile image

      Elisa Black-Taylor 

      8 years ago from The beautiful Carolina's

      I LOVE the photo you used. That baby reminds me of my little Darla, who gets a bath every few weeks because she always seems to get into something that leaves her either smelly or dirty. She runs and hides and sometimes we swear she can spell b-a-t-h but she's pretty used to it by now.

      She still has her baths in the wintertime, where we place a towel in the dryer while the bath is taking place and switch out for the warm towel after the first towel soaks up as much as it can.

      You did a great job on your hub.


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