Shampooing Techniques: Proper Ways to Bathe Your Dog for Optimal Results

Shampooing Techniques: Proper Ways to Bathe Your Dog for Optimal Results

Bath time doesn’t have to be a chore for you or your dog. These detailed steps will make brushing, shampooing, washing and drying easy — and even a little fun.


Bathing your dog is more than just a routine chore; it’s an essential part of their overall health and well-being. Knowing how to bathe a dog is crucial for all dog parents—yes, even if you usually take your pup to the groomer. After all, you never know when your dog will roll in something funky after-hours, or when unforeseen circumstances might close your favorite grooming salon for a while.

Proper shampooing techniques and dog grooming tips ensure your dog’s coat remains clean, shiny, and healthy, while also helping to prevent skin conditions and other issues. In this blog post, we’ll cover the best methods for bathing your dog, including tips on choosing the right shampoo, preparing for the bath, and the correct way to wash and rinse your furry friend.

Why Proper Shampooing is Important

Health Benefits

Regular baths help remove dirt, allergens, and parasites from your dog's coat, reducing the risk of skin infections and other health issues. Proper bathing also promotes a healthy coat by removing excess oils and dead skin cells.

Bonding Time

Bathing your dog can be a great bonding experience. It provides an opportunity to check for any unusual lumps, bumps, or skin conditions, ensuring early detection and treatment of potential health problems.

Choosing the Right Shampoo

Consider Your Dog’s Skin and Coat Type

Dogs have different skin and coat types, and selecting the right shampoo is crucial:

  • Oily Coats: Choose a degreasing shampoo that helps remove excess oil.

  • Dry or Sensitive Skin: Opt for a moisturizing shampoo with natural ingredients like oatmeal or aloe vera.

  • Normal Coats: A balanced, all-purpose shampoo works well. You can choose a shampoo based on whether your dog is a shedder or a non-shedder.

  • Puppies: Use a gentle, tear-free puppy shampoo made especially for these sensitive souls.

If your dog has specific skin conditions or allergies, consult your veterinarian for a medicated shampoo tailored to their needs.

Avoid Human Shampoos

Human shampoo can be too harsh for a dog’s skin, disrupting the pH balance and leading to dryness or irritation. Always use shampoos formulated specifically for dogs, like PRIDE+GROOM. Just like us humans, dogs can suffer from dry, itchy and sensitive skin.

Preparing For The Bath

The key to bathing a dog is to be prepared. There’s nothing worse than having a wet dog chasing you through the house as you search for towels! Follow these steps before you get started to make sure you have everything you need.

Gather Supplies

Before you bathe your dog, make sure you have all the necessary supplies within reach:

Brush Your Dog

Brushing your dog regularly and before the bath helps remove loose fur and tangles, making the bathing process easier and more effective. It also helps to distribute natural oils throughout the coat and your dog's fur.

Remember: water makes mats worse for many dogs. If your dog has medium or long fur, brush them and remove mats and tangles before the bath. Regular grooming and brushing will be beneficial for both you and most dogs!

Protect the Ears

Did you know one of the top causes of dog ear infections is moisture trapped in the ear canal? It’s one reason dogs with floppy ears tend to get more ear infections than those with perky ears.

Place cotton balls in your dog’s ears to prevent water from entering and causing infections during bath time. Be sure to remove them after the bath.

Where to Bathe Your Dog

First things first: Where are you giving your dog a bath? Depending on your home and your dog’s size, you have a few options for where to wash them:

  • The kitchen sink. This is an ideal place to bathe small dogs, because it puts them right at your level. Cover the drain if you have an garbage disposal.

  • The bathtub or shower. Here’s an indoor option for washing larger dogs. Beware: The drain can get clogged if your pup sheds a lot, so you may want to use a hair catcher or strainer.

  • In the yard. If you have space outdoors, you can wash your dog outside. Just be sure you have a way to secure them so they don’t run away before you’re done. Attaching their leash or grooming loop to a fence post, column, or a yard stake should do the trick.

  • Dog bathing stations. Some grooming salons and pet stores have self-service dog bathing stations. They’ll include everything you need to wash and dry your dog–and you won’t have a mess to clean up afterward! Pet Supplies Plus has many locations with self-serve pet washes including PRIDE+GROOM shampoos and grooming products plus additional grooming tools!

Dog Shampooing Techniques

Wetting Your Dog

Start by thoroughly wetting your dog’s skin and coat with lukewarm water. Use a spray nozzle if available, or pour water over your dog using a cup. Ensure the water penetrates through the fur to the skin.

Applying Shampoo

Dilute the Shampoo: Some shampoos can be diluted with water to ensure even distribution and easier rinsing. Check the instructions on the dog shampoo bottle. PRIDE+GROOM shampoos can all be diluted 16:1.

Start at the Neck: Apply the shampoo starting from the neck and working your way down to the tail. Avoid getting shampoo in your dog’s eyes, ears, and mouth.

Massage the Coat: Gently massage the shampoo into your dog’s skin and coat, working up a lather. Use circular motions to ensure the shampoo reaches the skin, where most dirt and oils accumulate.

We Recommend: THE BATH BRUSH, the perfect dog brush with silicone teeth and a natural bamboo base to release debris, excess fur & undercoat, stimulate natural skin oils, detangle, and massage your dog both in and out of the tub for an overall healthy coat.

Pay Attention to Problem Areas: Spend extra time on areas that tend to get dirtier, like a dog's paws, underbelly, and tail.

Avoid getting shampoo directly on your dog's face, because it can irritate their sensitive noses and eyes. Most dog shampoos are not safe to get in a dog's eyes. For dogs with short hair, pet face wipes are the safest, easiest way to clean your pup’s muzzle. Being careful around your dog’s eyes, wipe their whole face.


Thorough Rinsing: Rinse your dog thoroughly with lukewarm water, ensuring all shampoo is removed. Residual shampoo can cause skin irritation and dryness.

Think your dog is completely rinsed? Go ahead and rinse them some more. No, really. Dog fur is great at hiding pockets of soap, and if you don’t rinse it off now, it could cause skin problems ranging from flakiness to irritation to infections. Use your hands to feel around your whole dog to find soapy spots you can’t see, especially around the belly, under the armpits and genitals. Continue rinsing your dog until the water runs clear and you can no longer feel any shampoo residue on your dog’s coat.


If your dog has a long or particularly dry coat, or is prone to knots & mats, you may want to use a dog safe conditioner to keep the fur soft and manageable. Apply the conditioner following the same steps as the shampoo and rinse thoroughly.

Add extra shine to your pup’s fur and make it easier to brush by using a leave in detangling spray after the bath and before drying to prevent pain when brushing. To apply, follow the instructions on the packaging.

Drying Your Dog

Towel Drying

Use a large, absorbent towel to gently pat your dog dry. Towel dry your dog and avoid vigorous rubbing, which can cause tangles and discomfort in your dog's fur.

We Recommend: THE TOWEL by PRIDE+GROOM, a handsome, thick and thirsty microfiber towel cleverly designed for your dog with pockets to make drying your pup much faster & easier than a regular towel. It’s the only towel you need for bath time and all their wet & wild adventures.

Blow Drying and Brushing Post Bath

If your dog tolerates it, use a blow dryer on a low, cool setting to dry their coat completely. Keep the dryer moving to avoid overheating any one spot.

Once your dog is mostly dry, brush their coat to remove any remaining tangles and ensure even drying. Especially if they have long hair or double coats.

dog bath towel

Post-Bath Care

Clean Your Dog's Ears

After you towel dry or blow dry your dog, remove the cotton balls from your dog’s ear canal and check for any signs of moisture. Use a gentle ear cleaner if necessary.

Reward Your Dog

Give your dog a treat and plenty of praise for good behavior during the bath. Positive reinforcement helps make future baths a more pleasant experience. Regular grooming and more frequent baths will become easier as you bathe your dog with calm energy, positive rewards and the right shampoos. Most dogs would prefer the comfort of being bathed or groomed at home rather than with a professional groomer.

If your dog hates water, they are not alone. Believe it or not, nearly 40% of our furry friends across various breeds share a common fear: water. It's not that they're party poopers; they just have their own doggy reasons for keeping their paws dry. Some might have had a not-so-great experience with water, while others simply didn't get introduced to it properly. So don't be surprised if they aren't ecstatic about their monthly bath or getting completely wet.

Tips for a Stress-Free Bath

How to Keep Your Pup Calm

The key is to go slow and offer plenty of treats to your dog during the process, with a big reward for when you’re done (like a bully stick). A lick mat slathered in peanut butter, can be a great way to keep your pup focused on something other than the bathing process.

Keep in mind that your dog will pick up on your stress if you get frustrated. When you stay relaxed during bath time, it helps your pup stay calm, too.

  • Start Early: Get your dog used to baths from a young age to reduce anxiety and resistance.

  • Stay Calm: Maintain a calm and reassuring demeanor throughout the bath to help your dog feel more relaxed.

  • Use a Non-Slip Mat: A non-slip mat in the tub or bathing area can help your dog feel more secure and prevent slipping.

  • Keep Baths Short: Try to keep the bathing process as short as possible to minimize stress, especially for dogs that are not fond of water.


Proper shampooing techniques are essential for maintaining your dog's health, hygiene, and happiness. By choosing the right specially formulated dog shampoo, preparing adequately, and using the correct bathing methods, you can ensure your dog enjoys a clean, healthy coat and skin.

Remember, frequent bathing not only keep your dog looking and smelling great but also provide an opportunity for bonding and early detection of any health issues. Happy bathing!

Author Image


Paige Chernick is a Social Media and Communications expert living in NYC. For 10 years, she ran her own consulting company called PaigeKnowsFirst where she managed social content & strategy for many brands, finding her niche within the pet industry.

Paige has been a guest contributor for several publications and featured in articles on her successes with pets and social media. Paige’s rescue dog, Charlie, famously known by her social media handle @puppynamedcharlie, has accumulated hundreds of thousands of fans and made her a successful pet influencer early on in the game. Paige is also one of the Founders of The Pet Summit, a conference in the pet industry for creators and marketers, where she used her experience to create programs and classes to help guide and teach others.

In 2022, Paige became the Social Media Director for PRIDE+GROOM. She is now the Senior Vice President of Communications and remains very immersed in the pet industry on both the corporate side and the influencer side.