How To Get Puppies To Like Baths

Adopting a new puppy is a fun, exciting time, whether you’re an adult or a child. Puppies are full of energy and life and bring vitality to any house, apartment, or living space you call home. However, like any living creature, a puppy won’t always stay clean and smell good.

Here’s the thing; running, playing, and getting crazy causes puppies to sweat, and rolling around in the grass or dirt can leave them absolutely filthy. (They don’t care what they roll around in, even if it smells disgusting.) 

That means you’ll need to give your puppy a bath, something that many of them don’t like to do. Some puppies are terrified of taking baths, also, and will freak out if you try to give them one. Even if they don’t get spooked, the fact is that taking a bath isn’t something puppies do. (The closest they get in nature is a good tongue bath from their momma.)

I thought about this the other day as I helped my friend bathe her new pup. The poor thing was terrified and trembling but managed to get through the ordeal in one piece. As she was getting dried, I thought about a question I hear all the time from new puppy parents like yourself; how to get puppies to like baths.

The answer is that there are several methods you can use to get your precious pupper to like taking a bath. From tiring them out with a long walk beforehand to giving them a snack while they bathe, convincing your puppy that baths are no biggie can be done.

If you’d like to learn all the methods to get your puppy to like baths, read on. I’ve got them below, including facts about what age to start bathing your puppy and how to wash a puppy if it’s scared of water. It’s great information that will help you when bath time comes around for your new pupper.

How Often to Bathe a Puppy

How often to bathe a puppy depends on several factors, including their age, how often they play outside, and several more. For example, if your puppy is outdoors playing in the grass, mud, and dirt all the time, bathing them about once a week is a good idea. If they happen to roll around in another dog’s feces and urine (it happens), you might need to bathe them more often.

However, puppies with skin problems, including dry skin, should probably be given a bath less frequently. Baths tend to dry out their skin and can worsen the situation. Whether it is winter or summer also plays a role in how often you bathe your puppy. For example, in winter, your puppy will likely stay inside more and get less dirty. In summer, however, you’ll probably be outside with them more often, allowing them to get nasty and stinky.

Generally speaking, however, if your puppy isn’t being exposed to dirt, dog doo, dead animals like birds, wet grass, and other stuff that can make them dirty, washing a puppy about once a month is recommended. Remember, in the wild, dogs and puppies don’t bathe as humans do. So, except to remove fleas and ticks with a flea bath, baths are typically something that dogs don’t require.

At What Age should you Start Bathing your Puppy?

Dog experts recommend that you don’t bathe a puppy that’s younger than 8 weeks old.  The most prominent reason for this is that, when they’re younger than 8 weeks, most puppies can’t self-regulate their body temperature. If you bathe them too early, you can cause their body temp to drop precariously, which could make them sick or worse.

The best suggestion to clean a puppy younger than 8 weeks is to use a soft towel that’s been moistened with warm water. Wiping them down with the towel will remove any exterior dirt, debris, or dog doo they might have gotten on their fur or skin.

If your puppy will be outside often, getting them used to baths as early as possible is essential. That way, they will be used to baths when they’re bigger and stronger and won’t cause as much of a fuss or mess when you try to give them one. 

Tips for Getting a Puppy to Like Baths

Below are several excellent tips that will help you when it’s time to bathe your puppy and make it a more enjoyable experience for both of you.

  • Pick the best location. If you’ve adopted a tiny Chihuahua, bathing them in the kitchen sink or bathroom sink will probably work just fine. However, a larger puppy might require that you purchase a large bucket or even a kiddie pool. Also, for bigger puppies, giving them a bath outside will eliminate the disastrous mess they can cause inside your home.
  • Use toys and treats to keep them calm-ish and happy. Like a child who isn’t exactly fond of taking a bath, enticing your puppy with a new toy or treats will help make bath time more enjoyable for both of you.
  • Be cautious when cleaning around their eyes and ears. Both parts are quite sensitive and can be painful, itchy, or both if exposed to dog shampoo.
  • Rinse your puppy very well after their bath. Even if you’re using a special shampoo for puppies, any leftover shampoo can cause your puppy’s delicate skin to dry out and become very itchy.
  • If it’s cold outside, don’t bathe your puppy outside but choose a spot inside. Your mudroom or a spare bathroom works best and will keep any mess made in that specific location.
  • Have a big towel handy so that, as soon as your puppy’s bath is finished, you can throw it on them and towel them off. That way, when they shake off (and they will), water won’t go flying everywhere.

How to Give a Puppy a Bath if it’s Scared of Water

Some puppies, for whatever reason, are scared of water, while others are absolutely petrified of it and avoid it like the plague. That, of course, will make bathing them much more difficult. To help, below are several excellent tips that will help you give a puppy a bath even if it’s scared of water.

  • If you have sprinklers in your front or back yard, get your puppy used to playing in them so that their fear of water subsides.
  • Let your puppy explore water while you are walking, including puddles, streams, lakes, etc.
  • Don’t spray them with water initially but instead, use a wet washcloth to get your puppy wet. This will reduce your pup’s fear and anxiety.
  • Use a gentle spray, not a harsh, forceful spray.
  • While bathing, be sure to use gentle, supportive tones and a sweet voice.
  • Get in the bathtub and take a bath with your puppy simultaneously.

Why Do Some Dogs Hate Water?

Most dogs and puppies don’t hate water but, for some reason, have been scared by it in the past. Another reason puppies will hate water is simply due to lack of exposure. Figuring out why your puppy hates water, frankly, isn’t all that important. More importantly, you should gently and frequently expose them to water so that, in time, their fear and anxiety are significantly reduced.

Final Thoughts

Getting puppies to like baths is relatively straightforward if you follow the advice and tips I’ve given today. One of the best ways is to slowly but surely, over several weeks, expose them to water regularly. Also, ensure that you protect their eyes and ears when bathing them. If not, the pain they experience will make their next bath more difficult for both of you.

Did you enjoy today’s blog? I hope so and that it answered all of your most pressing questions about puppies and baths. If you have more or would like to find out more information about being a great puppy parent, please see my other blogs on the subject. They’re filled with excellent information, advice, and real-world tips to help you raise a healthy, happy, and well-adjusted dog.