A New Owners Guide to Dog Washing

Washing your dog is a task that many new owners underestimate. Even though in theory it should be easy, you may be surprised how quickly it can become overwhelming if you aren't organised.

The good news is that there are few simple steps you can take to make bathing your dog a little easier! In this blog post, we share a few simple tips to make washing your dog as relaxing of an experience as possible for both human and hound.

how to wash a dog and avoid dog's eyes

When should you wash your dog?

It is not necessary or healthy for dogs to be washed every day or even every week. Over-washing of your dog can lead to dry skin and other health problems. A good rule of thumb is once every two weeks. However, there are a few variables to consider, such as:

  • The breed of the dog. In general dogs with longer coats will require more regular bathing. If you’re not sure how often to suds up to suit your pup, check with a groomer or ask your vet.
  • What mischief your pup has gotten themselves into. You may need to bathe your dog more frequently due to contact with dirt, dust, and other allergens.... So, depending on the grime and sniff factor after a day out in the wild, a wash down may no longer be optional activity.
If your dog is dirty you should bathe your dog

Before bathing

Go for a walk!

Before bath time, it is always a good idea to go for a nice walk. This way your dog will have expended some energy and hopefully be a little bit less energetic during bath time, making your job as chief washer a touch easier.

Give your dog a thorough brush

Give your dog's coat a good brush before getting them in the tub. This helps remove excess fur that prevents the shampoo from penetrating all the way down to the skin. Opting for a pre-bath brush also means you won't waste time and shampoo washing fur that is only going to end up clogging the drain.

Before you bathe your dog you should brush the dog's coat

Choose the right shampoo for your dog

We know it can be tempting to reach for your own shampoo when your pup needs a wash and you have run out of dog shampoo. It is though really important to use shampoo made specifically for dogs. This is because dogs have a different skin pH balance to that of people. What this means is that dogs are actually more alkaline and using human hair care products can be irritating to their delicate skin.

Always check the label of your dog shampoo and conditioner. Aim to always steer clear of chemical ingredients such as SLS, SLES, EDTA & Paraben's to name a few.  Check out our detailed list of nasty chemicals here. Avoiding these chemicals is important as they can strip the natural oils from your dog’s sensitive skin leaving their coat dry, itchy and overtime, more damaged than before.

We always recommend using natural grooming products that are delicate on dogs’ skin and coat.  The Hound Lab’s entire range of small batch, natural formulations have intentionally been developed free from any nasty chemicals that can strip natural oils. You can explore our natural dog shampoo here.

choose the best shampoo to bathe your dog


Use warm running water when bathing your dog. The water temperature should not be hot to touch as this will distress the dog as fur actually retains heat more so than your skin.

Lather up the shampoo in your hands and massage all over pups’ skin and coat until you start seeing lather bubbles, which indicates that you have enough product to ensure a good clean.

while bathing a dog it is important to keep your dog's head dry

Use your fingers to work the shampoo through the entire coat. Don't forget to hand scrub paws, tummy, armpits, and tail. These are often forgotten or hard to reach spots that need attention as part of the bathing routine.

If their coat is really dirty you might not get much lather in the washing process. Rinse and wash a second time. Thoroughly rinse with water running from above and below until the coat feels “squeaky” under your fingers. It is important at this stage to remove any excess soap or dirt.


Washing your pups face

When you bathe your dog, washing of the head is one of the trickiest areas to work with. It is really important to avoid getting shampoo or water in sensitive areas like your dog’s eyes, ears, and nose. Running the shower head over the dog’s head can make the dog very uneasy and also push water into these sensitive spots. Using a washcloth can help to prevent this issue.

Place some shampoo in a bowl of warm water and swirl it together. Take the cloth and dip it in the soapy water, carefully wash your dog’s face and head avoiding soapy water running into ears and eyes.

Applying Conditioner

After you have washed all shampoo off your dog it is time to condition. Conditioner should be applied to the whole body (including their belly) before rinsing out again. Using conditioner is important for a healthy coat as you are re hydrating the skin and coat when applying. You can explore our natural dog conditioner here.

Post Bath

Drying Off

It is important that after a bath you dry-off! Use a towel to dry down your pup and then comb through fur with your fingers or you may prefer using a brush. Avoid using hair dryers as most dogs don’t like air blowing at them and they can also get too hot.  The towel dry-off in our house is met with great enthusiasm and is (in our hound’s case) the best part of the bath time routine.

after bathing your dog, take time to dry your dog's coat

Always keep treats nearby

Not all dogs will warm to bath time, however following a consistent approach should eventually make the process easier for both you and your dog. Be sure to keep treats nearby (if your dogs a foodie) or a favourite toy as it's important to give your dog a reward and to encourage calm behaviour. Offering a treat or a play at the beginning and end of bath time will help you and your dog to enjoy the experience together!

after bathing your dog and drying your dog be sure to give a treat