How to Wash Your Dog




About: I'm just a lady who likes making stuff. I got my degree in engineering but also enjoy cooking, sewing, knitting, gardening and backpacking, among other things.

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

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

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

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!

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!

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!

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!

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!



    • Trash to Treasure

      Trash to Treasure
    • Weaving Challenge

      Weaving Challenge
    • Tape Contest

      Tape Contest

    75 Discussions


    1 year ago

    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.


    2 years ago

    I love this site


    3 years ago on Introduction

    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!

    1 reply

    4 years ago on Step 7

    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?

    River Sleeping.PNG
    3 replies

    Reply 4 years ago on Step 7

    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

    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


    4 years ago on Introduction

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

    1 reply