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Puppy Bath Tips! – When Can You Start Bathing Your Puppy and What Should You Wash Him With

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New puppy parents often worry about bath time. Knowing when to start giving your puppy a bath, how often to bathe him, and what kind of shampoo to use are all questions to consider carefully. Giving your puppy a bath should be a fun experience for you and your pup. Read on to find out everything you need to know about when and how to give your puppy a bath…

Should You Give Your Puppy a Bath?

person thinking

Your puppy will likely be fine if you never bathe them at all, but there are advantages to giving your puppy a bath once in a while. One of the most important reasons to bathe your puppy is to get them acclimated to bath time. Even if your puppy does not get dirty enough to need a bath, they will almost definitely need to be bathed at some point during their adult life.

When Can You Give Puppies a Bath?

puppy bath time with 7 puppies

You do not need to give your puppy a bath every day. Once a month is a completely reasonable schedule for puppy bathing. For puppies, we recommend using Burt Bees Tearless 2 in 1 Shampoo and Conditioner Puppy Shampoo. You can give your puppy a bath more often if he gets into something icky. There are benefits and disadvantages to bathing dogs regularly, especially once they are old enough to venture out into the world outside.

Daily shampooing with even the gentlest of shampoo formulas can be disruptive the natural balance of your puppy’s skin and fur. Giving your puppy a bath too often will also reduce the natural waterproofing ability the fur develops as the puppy matures.

There exists a balanced environment of healthy bacteria right under the fur that helps to keep your puppy’s skin at exactly the right level of acidity. Shampoo too much changes this balance and can reduce your puppy’s natural resistance to skin infections. 

During the first few months of your pup’s life, the soft baby fur coat is replaced by an adult coat. Most puppies will have grown into their adult fur between six and twelve months of age. 

The oils in the dog’s skin give an adult coat of fur the benefit of waterproofing. This helps to keep your dog both warmer and more comfortable when swimming or going out on rainy days. Shampooing too much will strip natural oils allowing any water to go straight through your dog’s coat all the way down to the skin.

How Often Can I Give My Puppy a Bath?

happy puppy taking a bath

Regular baths are not necessary and do have some negative results. However, your pup does need a bath every once in a while, right? So just how often is too often? And how often is enough? 

A good rule of thumb is to bathe your puppy no more than once a week until up to three months old. You can bathe your puppy once a month until six months old. Then you only really need to bathe your dog a couple of times per year or as needed thereafter.

Make bath time easier with a super absorbent pet bath towel. Order on Amazon Prime here.

Super Absorbent Dog Drying Towel, Medium

How Old Does a Puppy Have to Be to Take His First Bath?

There is no specific date on which you should give your puppy his first bath. You can give your puppy a bath from the first day he arrives home (which is usually at about eight weeks old).

When Should You Bathe a Puppy?

Most puppies will require a bath at some point in their young lives because they are prone to falling and stepping in poop and puddles. However, a small puppy’s fur does not to be washed with shampoo on a daily basis. For small messes such as those from spilled food can easily be wiped off with a damp cloth or dog grooming wipes. We recommend Pogi’s grooming wipes. They’re deodorizing, earth-friendly and hypoallergenic so it’s safe to use on puppies.

How Do You Know When Your Dog Needs a Bath?

smelly puppy

Dogs need baths to get rid of strong odor, to remove any dirt or harmful things they may have gotten into or stepped in, or for health reasons such as allergies, infections, and parasites. 

Imagine you have never given your puppy a bath. As an adult, he suddenly needs a bath because he rolled around in the mud or stepped in motor oil. Getting a bath for the very first time as an adult could be much more traumatizing than it would be for a veteran bath-taker.

Another benefit of bathing your puppy regularly is more for you than for your pet. Some dogs stink! There are certain dog breeds that have a strong natural body odor. A lot of sporting breeds such as Labradors can have really bad body odor.

The level of odor varies by individual dog, some can be really smelly, while others may not get stinky at all. Age is another odor factor. A lot of dog breeds will develop a stronger smell as the age.  Elderly dogs are likely to be particularly smelly if they are not bathed once in a while.

Starting your dog off on the right foot by giving them the bathing experience as a puppy will set your dog up for a lifetime of comfortable bath times. Avoiding bath time while your dog is a puppy, on the other hand, will set them up for upsetting experiences in the future if you need to start bathing them occasionally when they get to be elderly.  

Give your puppy a bath once a week for the first three or four weeks you have them, then give them a bath one time per month every month until they are six months old. Bathe them at least twice a year from the on and bath-time should be a peaceful and even enjoyable experience for your dog. Bath time will be a breeze for your pup and they won’t run and hide when the shampoo comes out.

What Should I Wash My Puppy With?

You should always use a shampoo that is formulated for dogs. For puppies, we recommend using Burt Bees Tearless 2 in 1 Shampoo and Conditioner Puppy Shampoo.

Order this puppy shampoo here.

If you are in a pinch and have some human baby shampoo lying around, it is safe to use on your puppy’s coat sparingly.

However, baby shampoo is made for human baby skin that is much more acidic than a puppy’s skin. Baby shampoo is not the best balance for your pup’s less acidic skin. Never use adult human shampoo on your puppy. If any of it gets into their eyes, it will sting and you can kiss stress-free bath time goodbye for the rest of your pup’s life.  

Where Should I Bathe My Puppy?

happy puppy in a sink

There are a lot of places to bathe your puppy. Try a few out and see which one works best for you and your pup. Most puppies are small enough that you can bathe them in the kitchen sink. Just be careful not to let a wet wiggly puppy jump out and fall and hurt themselves.

An alternative to the kitchen sink is the bathtub. Puppies may be nervous in a giant bathtub full of water, so start slow to ease your pup into bath time in the tub. You can get your puppy used to the tub by having them stand in a tub with just a little water in the bottom of the basin for just a few moments two or three times per day. Give him some treats while he’s in there and the process will likely go even faster.

A lot of pet parents prefer to use a plastic washtub on the kitchen or bathroom floor. You can also use a portal dog bathing tub. These containers will be less intimidating to your pup and will be easier to manipulate and clean. If the weather is warm, you can take the plastic tub outside and do the whole bath there.

Another option that is pretty cool is the portable shower. There are several different kinds to choose from with various tank sizes for dogs of all sizes. You can also try a battery-operated portable shower head with a pump that you can put in a bucket of water.

It’s Puppy Bath Time!

Are you ready to give your puppy a bath? Get your supplies ready! You will need your specially formulated puppy shampoo, some towels (at least two, but you may want more!), and a cup for rinsing (unless you have a handheld shower spray). Make sure all these items are within reach of the bath before you get started.

It is important to make bath time as fun and relaxing for your pup as possible so he will want to repeat the process next time. One way to do this is to keep some yummy treats on hand. You may want to enlist a puppy-helper for the first bath as you will not know how your pup will respond and a wet slippery puppy is hard to manage. He may jump right out of the tub!

How to Bathe a Puppy

steps to bathing a puppy

Step One: Use the rinse cup to wet the puppy’s fur a little before applying the puppy shampoo.

Step Two: Shampoo! Apply a small amount of shampoo along the puppy’s back and slowly work it into his coat with wet hands. Work the shampoo into each leg, tummy, and bottom. Do not shampoo the puppy’s face unless absolutely necessary!

If you do have to clean your puppy’s face, be extremely careful not to get any of it into his eyes. As you shampoo, add more water as needed to help penetrate the water-resistant coat and work the soap into the coat to get the pup’s fur thoroughly clean.

Step 3: Rinse! Make sure to use your cup or shower spray to rinse the pup really good and change the water before repeating the process.

Step 4: Repeat! The second round of shampoo should be much easier to get a good lather and get deeper into the puppy’s water-resistance coat. Make sure to rinse your puppy thoroughly after the final round of shampooing to ensure no shampoo remains in their fur.

It is a good idea to give your puppy a treat frequently. The first time you bathe him, you may go through more treats than usual to keep the pup happy. You can taper off the number of treats as he gets more used to bath time. Cloud Star puppy training treats work well for this.

What Do You Do After Puppy Bath Time?

puppy wrapped in a towel

After your puppy has been completely rinsed off use the towels you set aside next to your bath. Put one towel on your lap and use the other towel to pick you puppy pup. With the puppy in your lap, you can give them a good rub down to dry them off. Puppies usually really enjoy this, so be prepared for lots of playful nipping at the towel.

If you have a puppy-helper you can have one person hold onto the puppy while the other person dries them off. Be prepared once you put the pup down. No matter how well you have dried him off, he is going to shake.

You can leave your pup in a room to air-dry if it is warm. You can give the pup a towel or two to roll around on. This will help him dry off faster while keeping your floors dryer.

Try using a hairdryer if your dog doesn’t mind the sound of it. If the puppy seams unsure about the dryer, you probably should not use it. You don’t want to give him any negative feelings about any part of the bath time process or he won’t want to do it again.

If you have a pup with a thick coat like a Husky or Samoyed, we recommend purchasing a dog grooming blow dryer to make drying your puppy easier. It’ll also help with their shedding when they get older. Shelandy Dog Blower is the best for this, which you can buy here.

If the pup seems to like the hairdryer, make sure to use a low setting, warm setting. Use your hand as a buffer with your fingers splayed out so you can keep an eye on the temperature.

Bath Time for Your Puppy

happy puppy in a bath

Are you ready to bathe your puppy? It is good to bathe your puppy occasionally, but don’t over-do it. Always bathe your puppy if he has gotten into something really dirty, smelly, or toxic. You do not need to give your puppy a bath every time he steps in something, a few wet wipes or wet cloth will do just fine.

Wash your puppy frequently enough that he gets used to bath time, typically once a week in the beginning, then all the way down to just a couple times a year after about six months.

Remember the goal is to make bath time as enjoyable and fun as possible, so your puppy will be happy to take another bath next time. This includes providing treats, washing carefully and calmly, making sure to keep soap out of his eyes, and easing him into the water. Follow these guidelines, and bath time will become a happy experience for your pup! And if you and your furry friend are looking for the perfect shampoo, check out our article on A Professionals Top 5 Favorite Shampoos for Dogs!

Sarah Nishimoto

The author Sarah Nishimoto

Sarah is not only a pet owner but loves animals of all shapes and sizes.

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