When & How to Bathe a Puppy

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Just like adult dogs, puppies too have a love for frolicking in the mud and getting themselves into a mess. And while you want your fur baby to stay clean, puppy bathing and grooming can be slightly more complicated as compared to grooming adult dogs. There are certain things one must keep in mind when caring for a puppy because their tiny bodies and needs are different. With the right technique, tools, and approach, puppy bathing can be a fun activity that brings you and puppy closer. 

When can puppies take a bath?

Puppies cannot regulate their body temperature like adult dogs and, therefore, it is not advisable to bathe them when they are too young. You can start bathing your pup when he/she has crossed the age of two months. Prior to that age, the best method to keep your puppy clean and fresh is to use a wet towel dipped in warm water to wipe their body and fur. Once they are old enough, you can slowly start introducing the puppy to bathing. A positive experience with bathing when they are young can be beneficial after the puppy grows up. It can help your furry friend get accustomed to bathing and enjoy the activity instead of fearing it. 

Essential items for puppy bathing 

Here are some of the essential items that you will require to bathe your puppy. 

The right shampoo 

Choosing the right shampoo on your puppy’s breed and the length of their fur is very important. Puppy shampoos are formulated to be gentler as puppies’ skin and fur can be sensitive. Also check with your veterinarian if your puppy has a pre-existing condition that requires a special shampoo. Based on these factors, select a quality shampoo for them. This is key when you are trying to learn how to bathe a puppy for the first time. 

The right brush

In order to get rid of dead skin cells, loose hair, dirt and other paraphernalia from their fur, using a good quality brush is crucial. It makes your job much easier and also gives a pleasant spa-like experience to the puppy. A brush can reach deep into the puppy’s fur, help dislodge any dirt accumulated inside and even help you untangle any knots in the puppy’s fur. 

The right treat

Using your puppy’s favorite treats while bathing can help make them more comfortable and participate willingly in the activity. Using treats and praising your puppy for obedience while bathing can serve as positive reinforcement which is immensely beneficial. Use treat sticks or any other snack that your puppy loves to bribe them for a smooth and trouble-free bath time. 

The right towel 

In order to wipe down the puppy and dry their fur, use a soft, micro-fibre towel which is gentle on their sensitive bodies. You can also use a hair dryer to quickly blow dry their fur if your puppy is comfortable with it. Some pets are uncomfortable and sometime scared of a hair dryer due to the noise, and can take some time to get used to it. You can use treats, praises and petting to calm them down while you blow dry their fur. If your puppy is still not comfortable with it, avoid forcing the hair dryer on them. Just using a towel is also good enough. Know the benefits of protein to improve your dog's skin and coat health.

How to bathe a puppy? 

Follow these steps closely to bathe your little pooch the right way. 

Step 1: Understand the puppy's coat and fur type

Does your puppy have short hair or long hair? Depending on the answer to that question, you may have to tweak your approach a little bit when bathing your puppy. There are different shampoos for different breeds, and long hair dog breeds may require additional care and products such as conditioners to keep their fur healthy and shiny. 

Step 2: Gently brush fur 

Use a brush to dislodge and remove any dirt, mud or other objects that might be stuck in the puppy’s fur. Brushing also helps relax the puppy before bathing which can be helpful. Learn how to keep your furry friend look and feel their best by following dog grooming tips. Discover valuable techniques to enhance your grooming routine, including brushing, bathing, and more. 

Step 3: Choose the right spot for bathing your puppy

Since keeping the puppy feeling safe and comfortable is key, choosing the right spot can go a long way to make bathing a positive experience for them. A large tub or bathtub are good choices for a bathing space. Try getting your puppy used to their potential bathing spot by playing with them there. 

Step 4: Begin with water and a bathing brush

It is best to use warm water to bathe your puppy. Try to fully wet your puppy’s fur before you begin to apply the puppy shampoo. Use the bathing brush to make sure the water reaches under the puppy’s fur and reaches its skin too. If your fur baby seems anxious, reward them with a treat and use praises to keep them in a positive and cheerful mood. If your puppy has a favorite toy they like to hold in their mouth at all times, let them have it while bathing. This can help the puppy stay relaxed and feel safe. 

Step 5: Apply shampoo and scrub slowly and carefully

Once you have managed to wet their fur, you can begin to apply a sufficient quantity of shampoo based on the puppy’s size. Use the bathing brush to lather the shampoo up and scrub the puppy’s body. It is key to be gentle and slow while brushing your puppy to make sure you don’t startle, hurt or anger them. Make sure you are able to remove all the dirt, food or any other impurities on your dog’s fur or skin. Do not forget to clean their paws, tail and underside carefully. Avoid getting any water or shampoo into your puppy’s eyes, ears or mouth. It is best to wet your hand and then gently clean their face and mouths without pouring water or applying any shampoo in this region. 

Step 6: Rinse, rinse, rinse

Getting the shampoo or soap out of your puppy’s fur can be a long and tedious process. However, it is important to ensure you use lots of clean water and the bathing brush to rinse their body well. Any leftover shampoo or soap can cause dry and itchy skin, rashes and even infections. Therefore, get ready to be as thorough with rinsing as you possibly can. 

Step 7: Towel time

Once you have finished bathing and rinsing your puppy, you can get a towel to wipe off any excess water. While your puppy may try and shake off all the water from its body on its own, you will need to offer some extra support with a towel. Use a pat drying method instead of rubbing them down aggressively as it can cause knots if the puppy has long hair. Gently patting their body down with a towel is a much safer method. Afterwards, you can use a hair dryer to finish the process. If your puppy does not like the hair dryer, don’t force it. Allow your puppy’s fur to fully dry on its own in a room with the fan and air-conditioner turned off. Give the puppy a soft blanket to keep them warm.

Step 8: Who's a good boy/girl? 

Puppies respond well when they are rewarded for good behavior. Treats and praises are often key to your puppy’s heart. After bathing, reward your puppy with their favorite treats and lots of praises. Make this a routine and you will find that puppy bathing isn’t that difficult.

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Frequently Asked Questions on Puppy Bathing

Puppies and adult dogs do not require to be bathed very often. Just once every three to four weeks should be enough. You may need to bathe your puppy often if it regularly gets itself dirty by rolling around in mud and grass. The frequency of puppy bathing can differ depending on the breed, length of fur, skin conditions and more. Even different seasons need to be considered to decide how often and when to bathe a puppy.

If your dog spends a lot of time outside in the backyard or garden and tends to get dirty too often, then it is all right to bathe them once a week. If your dog stays indoors most of the time, it is fine to bathe them once every two weeks.

After a bath, it is preferable to use a soft and thick towel to dry your puppy or dog. Be gentle, pat dry them and avoid being too vigorous. You can also use a hair dryer to fully dry your dog after using a towel.

Ideally, it is preferable to use warm water to bathe your puppy. However, depending on the weather where you live, your dog may enjoy bathing with cold water. Unless necessary, it is best to stick to warm water for bathing your puppy.

The right age for a puppy to have its first bath is around the age of two months. You may consult the vet to know whether your fur baby has any special requirements for bathing.