Introduction: How to Wash Your Dog

Picture of How to Wash Your Dog

I have an awesome dog, Lyric, who works hard but plays dirty! Some of her favorite hobbies include digging, swimming in the ocean, and rolling in mud puddles, (see pictures above) which creates the need for frequent bathing. Professional groomers can get pricey, especially for a big golden retriever like her, so I like to wash her myself.

Regularly washing your dog can promote healthy skin and fur and help reduce that "dog-smell" all dogs seem to have. I wash my dog approximately every two weeks because she comes to work with me and I don't want the whole office smelling like stinky dog! I wouldn't recommend washing more often than that, unless they get dirty, because it can irritate their skin.

Let's get soapy!

Step 1: Supplies

Picture of Supplies

Here's what you will need:

  • a dirty dog
  • a bathtub
  • dog shampoo (I use this kind because my dog tends to get dry skin) and conditioner (I would highly recommend using a conditioner especially if you have a dog with longer fur, and if your dog has dry skin)
  • a mitt brush for scrubbing
  • small treats
  • big treat for when it's over
  • towel


  • clothes you don't mind getting wet, or a bathing suit
  • dog bathrobe (I know this seems silly, but it's great because it won't slip off when your dog shakes)
  • a cup you can use to pour water on your dog

EDIT: An Instructables user had a question about dog hair clogging the bathtub drain and would definitely recommend using a hair catcher like this one to avoid that problem.

Step 2: Introducing the Bathtub

Picture of Introducing the Bathtub

If your dog isn't used to the bath tub, spend some time letting them get used to it. Make sure you have a grippy mat or something on the bottom of the bathtub so your dog doesn't slip and slide around when they are in the tub. I have traction stickers that are attached to the bottom, which you can kind of see in the pictures. Use lots of treats and vocal encouragement so your dogs learns that the tub isn't a bad place!

I have been washing my dog myself since she was a puppy, so she's very used to the bathtub by now and will just jump in when I tell her to, but I still give her treats every time.

Step 3: Wet Your Dog

Picture of Wet Your Dog

Once your dog has gotten used to the bathtub, it's time to get wet! Make sure the water isn't too hot since dogs have fur and water that might feel fine to us can make your dog uncomfortable. Aim for lukewarm water closer to room temperature.

It helps if you have a cup or something to help pour water over your dog to get them completely wet if you don't have s hose in your bathtub.

Step 4: Lather!

Picture of Lather!

Now it's time for my dog's favorite part! Squirt a thin line of shampoo down your dog's spine, then use the scrubby mitt to rub in a circular motion and get a nice lather going. My dog loves this part because it's like a massage! Make sure you don't get any soap in your pup's eyes! You can also just use your fingers instead of a mitt, but I feel like that kind of brush really helps get a lot of dirt out of their coat.

Once your dog is lathered up, rinse the shampoo out of their coat and repeat the process with the conditioner, if you are using it.

Step 5: Rinse!

Picture of Rinse!

Once you have shampooed and conditioned your dog, rinse them off thoroughly. It helps to have a cup again at this point to help pour water over your dog and get all the soap off. I also like to take this time to try and clean up the bathtub a little bit.

Step 6: Dry!

Picture of Dry!

Before I let me dog out of the tub, I try to towel her off a little bit so when she shakes, she won't get water all over the bathroom! Once she's out of the tub, I cover he completely in the towel and try to get as much water off her as possible.

Step 7: Enjoy Your Clean Dog!

Picture of Enjoy Your Clean Dog!

Give your dog their big treat to distract them while they finish drying. Don't use a hot blow-dryer because the heat could be too much heat for your dog.

I have a super absorbent dog bathrobe I put on my dog so she can finish air drying without getting water all over the house. I know it seems silly but it is actually really useful since she can't shake it off but she can still walk around the house without soaking everything. She is already used to wearing vests, harnesses, and backpacks, so she doesn't mind wearing it, but not all dogs will tolerate it.

Enjoy snuggling with your clean pup!


Dave54321 (author)2017-04-11

My dog has short fur and I wash her with a ozone generator that you

can purchase on Ebay for about 50 bucks. I put two cups of water

into a glass bowl, warm it up in the micro and let the ozone gas bubble

in the water for around ten minuets. The water has absorbed the ozone

gas ( that kills bacteria ) and remains activated for a short time. Next you

place a sock on your hand , dip it in the water and wipe the dog down

with it. All you need to do to finish the dog washing is dry the dog and presto , no more dog oders.

and you haven't put harsh chemical cleaners on their skin. Of course if the

dog has rolled in oily or gross things like poo or something I would reccomend

the instructable above to do the job.

Mw25658 (author)2017-01-25

I love this site

CorgiCritter (author)2015-03-23

Good info! My corgi hates baths, but he just stands there looking pitiful until the deed it done. Then he gets the ultimate reward... getting to chew a towel!

Ah yes, the towel! The greatest toy of them all!

violingirl (author)2015-03-05

Whilst attempting this instructable I realized I didn't have a dog. (dirty or clean) :(

Ask around, maybe you could borrow one! Or volunteer with a rescue organization :)

Or you could toss your stuffed dog into the nearest mud puddle. Then you would have a dirty dog.


rayleb (author)2015-03-09

I have found that using a :"shamwow" to dry works great

Thats the type of material that her bathrobe is made out of :)

NerdzerkerZero (author)2015-03-05

I'm pretty sure I have your dog's twin. If yours in anything like mine it probably sheds like crazy. Any advice keeping a handle on the ludicrous amounts of hair?

rayleb (author)NerdzerkerZero2015-03-09

I have long fur dogs and have found that the "furminator" is absolutely great. a bit expensive, but far better than any others I've tried

This brush is literally the same brush as the furminator but it's an off brand so it's a fraction of the price!

It works just as well!

Aw, twins! Is yours a white golden retriever also?

As far as keeping a handle on hair, I use three different brushes on my dog, and brush her often. I use this one on her body and this brush on her long feathers on her legs and tail when she's dry. I also use a slicker brush like this on her sometimes after her bath when she's still slightly damp which makes her extra fluffy, but she doesn't like that type as much.

I know it seems silly, but all three brushes perform differently and my dog has two very different hair lengths and types, so I've found that brush combination to be most effective, not to mention better for my vacuum cleaner! haha

thundrepance (author)2015-03-09

she's so sweet! i'm usually a cat-lover, but this was fun to view! x^D

Thanks! That's the ultimate compliment!

Lyric is also a cat-lover, so you have something in common :) haha

S189 (author)2015-03-07

Loved this, and I don't even have a dog :)


dillonsparks (author)2015-03-06

I'm picturing washing my cat using your examples. let u know after the emergency room visit and the swelling and claw slashes heal.

Be careful! Fortunately, most cats are self-cleaning! haha

Brett Beedrill (author)2015-03-06

I worked as a dog washer for a while so I'll give you my thoughts. First, brush thoroughly before washing (it will save time and shampoo). Use a stripper brush if you have one, but be sure not to brush one area too long because this brush can remove healthy hair too.

How do you tell when your dog is clean? After rinsing the shampoo, rub your hand flat along the hair going with the grain. If it's clean, you will feel a bit of friction that might make a squeaking sound (squeaky clean, just like dishes).

Some breeds (poodles) require you to blow-dry them for the hair to dry straight, in preparation for even cuts. If you happen to have an industrial blow dryer (looks like a big vaccum cleaner) I find that the high powered air will 'blow out' lots of hair that is loosened when washing. They use stretchy fabric to go over the ears in grooming shops so that dogs don't get too freaked out.

Thanks for the expert advice! Fortunately Lyric doesn't have a fancy hairstyle to maintain, so I don't worry about blowdrying her, although if it helps with shedding, maybe I should give it a try!

JohnnyMorales (author)2015-03-05

Nice instructable, but I had my fingers crossed it was the instructions to turn an automatic dishwasher into a hands free automatic dog washer by installing a bay to hold the dog still inside along with a port to the outside that would allow the dog to stick it's head out so you can pet it and keep it calm while the spinning dishwasher arms wash every last bit of dirt out of the dog's hair. :D

Haha, that would be awesome!

push_reset (author)2015-03-05

The fantastic main pic grabbed my attention (so cute!), then I saw the others that followed. Amazing. Luckily my cat doesn't like muddy water, although it looks like she is missing out!

Haha, thanks!

clewis21 (author)2015-03-05

Thanks for the instructable!

You're welcome!

KentR1 (author)2015-03-05

My wife had a grooming shop for years and says this about the technique. Wet the body first, from neck to tail, keeping the dog's head dry. Then shampoo, wash and rinse body. Lastly wet, shampoo and rinse head. Rinse eyes gently after shampoo step. Reason to do head last is that dog will shake him/herself off when head is wet. So wetting/shampooing head last makes it all easier.

That makes sense! I'll have to try that next time!

mwseniff1 (author)2015-03-05

I put the dog shampoo in a small plastic bowl and add water to make a soapy mix. I use a net bath puff to apply this to the dog. It works much better and you don't end up with a big blob of shampoo to hose off from the back. It also seems to cause less skin irritation. Saves time too.

Oh that's a great idea! I'll have to try that next time!

PJSolarz (author)2015-03-05

My dog jumps in the tub (reluctantly) on his own when I point him in that direction. He loves water (English Springer) and I can't keep him out of the lake at our summer home. His problem is we won't stay still long enough in the tub for me to wash him in one spot. He is forever turning around. He smells great once it's over but as soon as he is free, he starts licking himself to get the "dog" smell back... :-0

I use a removable shower head (WaterPic) to wash him instead of a cup to wet and rinse.

Haha, I usually end up having to just get in with my dog so I can close the shower curtain which keeps the rest of the bathroom dry and encourages her to stay still. I removable shower head is definitely on my wish list! It would make washing her so much easier!

I'll do that sometimes, get him in the shower with me. It does make it mush easier.

Bown86 (author)2015-03-05

I love it! Your dog is adorable. :) My Pom/Shitzu mix hates the bath but loves getting blow dried. He comes running when he hears it running. The conditioner makes a huge difference I find, some people just don't take the time to do it.

That's so cute! I've never dried blowdrying my dog since she's so big it would take forever (and I don't even own a hairdryer, so there's that), haha.

Euclas (author)2015-03-05

Why would someone leave to have a quiet life and more look for a problem to solve?

I'm afraid I don't know what you mean?

mikeasaurus (author)2015-03-05


jsawyer13 (author)2015-03-05

I never thought of a dog bath robe for big shakers. I have a German/Austrailian Sheperd mix and a beagle/Sheperd mix. Pepper, my GSD, has a terribly thick coat and can really sling some water!

I'm thinking old beach towel + a bit of snippery = dog bath robe => next instructable.

You should definitely do it and enter it in this contest! I have gotten a few requests for how to make the bathrobe, but I bought this one, so I'm not much help :/

渣渣 (author)2015-03-03



jbrizzle (author)2015-03-05

This is the best!


johnthelarge (author)2015-03-05

Hi, what a lovely dog! We have a retriever as well and we give him a shave when summer hits us. He jumps up and sits on his Kennel roof and waits for his "hair-cut". As a result we find it easy to keep him clean as he does not have the urge to "puddle hump".

My mom shaved our childhood dog (also a retriever) when I was a kid and part of his hair never really grew back :(

Also, I live in San Francisco where we have some pretty rapid weather changes throughout the year so I wouldn't want to shave her and then have her shiver through a cold snap! haha

mooster (author)2015-03-05

Nice instructable and beautiful, well mannered dog! If the tub has a shower, it would make things much easier for you to thoroughly rinse her if you had a hand-held shower head - just a suggestion. It could cost less than a single visit to the groomer, and you'd enjoy having it, too. They are usually very easy to install, and if you're renting, you can easily switch it back when you move.

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