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When Can You Give A Puppy A Bath – A Step-By-Step Guide

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Young puppies are curious and active creatures, and it’s in their nature to investigate every puddle and roll in mud every time they get outside.

Depending on your puppy’s sense of adventure, they may be dirty more often than clean. If this is the case, it’s only natural to wonder when can you give a puppy a bath for the first time?. 

Whether you’ve raised a puppy before or not, you can guess that bathing a puppy isn’t as simple as a walk in a park. It’s much easier for a puppy to get dirty than to become clean and fresh-smelling again.

When Can You Give Your Puppy A Bath? - Adorable puppy covered in soap inside a yellow bath tub.
When Can You Give Your Puppy A Bath?

Like toddlers, puppies can’t stay clean for very long. However, while you can bathe your child whenever they get dirty, you will need to be more careful with your puppy.

You see, a puppy will always need a bath, but you shouldn’t bathe a puppy whenever they are dirty.

In this article, I will tell you when it’s the right time for a puppy bath, how to bathe a puppy, and how often you should do it.

Bathtime should be an enjoyable experience for both you and your puppy, so you need to get it right from the start. 

When Can You Give A Puppy A Bath?

Puppies have trouble self-regulating their body temperature and can easily get chilled if bathed at a very young age.

Therefore, you shouldn’t bathe your puppy until they are eight weeks old. Better yet, hold off on giving a puppy a bath until they are 12 weeks old if they aren’t extremely smelly and dirty. 

Besides being easily chilled, young puppies can also accidentally get water in their lungs during the first bath.

Not only will this traumatize the puppy and make them afraid of bath times, but it can be lethal. So, no matter how dirty or smelly your puppy is, don’t attempt to give them a bath until they are at least two months old.

However, this doesn’t mean you must live with a grimy and smelly puppy until they are old enough for a proper bath.

Before your pup is eight weeks old, you can wipe it down with a warm and damp cloth for a quick clean. 

Moisten the cloth only with warm water and use it to rub your puppy in the direction their hair grows gently.

Depending on how dirty your puppy is, you may need to wipe them down several times to get all the dirt and grime out of their coat.

If you’re raising sibling puppies, you will need to wipe them more often since they will get dirty more quickly with all that playing and running around.

Wiping your puppy with a cloth will keep dirt and bad doggy odor at bay, at least until the puppy is old enough for a proper bath.

Also, depending on how damp the cloth is, you may want to dry your puppy after each quick clean. That way, the pup won’t be at risk of getting chilled or catching a cold once they are playing outside. 

How To Give A Puppy A Bath?

While giving a puppy a bath for the first time isn’t rocket science, it is definitely harder than it seems.

Don’t be surprised if you hear your tiny puppy growling during a bath, as they tend to do this when afraid. The most important thing is to keep your puppy safe during the entire bathing process. 

A puppy’s first bath can be an exciting or challenging experience, depending on your puppy.

Some puppies naturally love water and will enjoy being soaked and lathered. Others, however, may get anxious from the start and do everything in their power to escape. 

The way your puppy is going to react depends a lot on their personality, but it also comes down to their age.

Generally, the younger the puppy is introduced to bathing, the quicker it will learn to enjoy the routine.

Older puppies, however, are often more challenging to bathe than younger puppies and need a lot of reassurance and praise to calm them down. 

That’s why it is very important to start bathing your puppy from an early age when they are at least eight weeks old.

This will help you establish a life-long grooming routine and teach your dog from a young age that bathing isn’t scary at all!

Now that that’s covered, here are some tips on how to give a puppy a bath for the first time:

1. Brush Your Puppy First

Before you attempt to give your puppy a bath, you will have to brush them first.

Brushing will remove excess dirt, grime, and any loose hair. Furthermore, you will be able to take out any tangles or knots that can become matted once wet.

Be gentle and brush your puppy in the same direction their hair grows. Make sure that your puppy is having an enjoyable grooming experience.

In the end, the sooner you start brushing your puppy, the faster they will get accustomed to a regular grooming routine. 

2. Gather Your Supplies

Gather everything you will need to bathe your puppy before you get them wet. Having all the supplies close at hand will make the entire bathing process much easier for both you and your puppy.

Just imagine how stressful it would be if you had to run out of the bathroom in the middle of the bath because you forgot the shampoo.

When it comes to supplies, you will need a puppy shampoo and conditioner, lots of treats, cotton balls, a rubber mat, and several towels.

You should also consider wearing some old clothes since you will most likely get wet and in need of a bath yourself later on.

3. Bring Your Puppy In The Bathroom

Once you double-check that everything you need is within a hand’s reach, you can bring your puppy into the bathroom. Depending on what you have available, you can bathe your puppy in a bathtub or in a sink. 

If you’ve decided to bathe your puppy in a basin or a bucket, fill it in with lukewarm water before bringing your puppy in.

Filling the bucket beforehand can help a lot if your pup is afraid of the sound of running water. 

When everything is settled and you have the bathroom door firmly closed, gently pick up and place your puppy in the tub.

4. Start Bathing Your Puppy

Before wetting your puppy’s coat, place cotton balls into their ears to prevent water from entering the ear canal.

Furthermore, make sure that your puppy is standing on a rubber mat that will ensure good footing and prevent slipping accidents.  

Start bathing your puppy with warm water using the faucet on a low setting or a pitcher. Please note, that you should always bathe your puppy with lukewarm water!

If the water is too hot you can easily burn your puppy’s sensitive skin, and if the water is too cold your puppy can easily get chilled.

Keep the faucet or sprayer on a low setting the entire time and place it close to the coat to soak the entire fur evenly.

Do not spray water on your puppy’s head or face – this is extremely scary! Instead, use a damp washcloth to clean your puppy’s face. 

5. Work Up A Good Lather 

Once you are sure that your puppy’s coat is properly soaked you can graduate to using a puppy shampoo.

Use a shampoo and conditioner that is specially made for puppies. Ideally, you should use a plant-based puppy shampoo that is pH-balanced and made without any chemicals that can damage your pup’s coat and dry their skin.

Spread a thin line of shampoo along your puppy’s back, or work up a good lather in your hands and then apply. In either case, gently lather your pup’s entire body, including the backside, paws, and belly.

Keep the suds away from your puppy’s face and rinse out immediately if something gets in their eyes or mouth.

6. Rinse Your Puppy Thoroughly

After you have lathered and washed your pup’s entire body, you can start rinsing the shampoo out of their coat.

Your puppy won’t be completely clean until the shampoo is actually rinsed away. Therefore, rinse your puppy thoroughly and then rinse a little bit longer.

Use one hand to hold the sprayer and the other to gently scrub your pup until all the suds are out of their coat.

Even if you think that you rinsed thoroughly enough, continue rinsing some more until the water is completely suds-free. 

Rinsing is one of the most important parts of the entire bathing process and you have to do it right.

Leaving shampoo in your puppy’s coat can cause an allergic reaction and give the coat a dull and greasy feel. So continue rinsing your puppy’s coat until every ounce of shampoo and suds is out. 

7. Dry Your Puppy’s Coat

Now that your puppy is clean and fresh-smelling again, you can proceed to dry them off.

But be warned: puppies like to shake dry, so be prepared for water droplets flying everywhere! To avoid water stains on your walls, throw a towel over your puppy and start toweling off the excess water. 

Continue toweling until most of the water is out of their coat and then give them a gentle blow-dry. Using a blow dryer is a great way to dry your pup’s coat quickly and completely.

Bear in mind, though, that some puppies are afraid of blow dryers, so you may need to use treats and praise to get your puppy to tolerate one.

If you are blow-drying your puppy’s coat use the lowest setting, making sure that the temperature isn’t too hot on their skin.

Furthermore, make sure your puppy is completely dry before you let them outside, especially if it’s a cold day. 

How Often To Bathe A Puppy

After bathing your puppy for the first time, you can continue to bathe them whenever they get smelly and dirty.

Ideally, you should bathe your puppy once a month, or every two months if they spend a lot of time indoors and aren’t dirty.

Of course, if your pup rolls in the mud or doggy poop, you can bathe them more often, just don’t overdo it.

Frequent baths can strip the skin of its protective layer, resulting in dry skin and a dull-looking coat.

If your puppy has dry and sensitive skin, you should wait longer between baths and only use a natural puppy shampoo with moisturizing properties. 

On the other hand, if your puppy has skin infections or parasites you may need to bathe them more often with a medicated dog shampoo.

Depending on the type of skin condition, you will probably have to bathe your puppy once a week at least, for treatment to be effective. 

If your puppy has a skin condition like dermatitis, you should consult your veterinarian and follow their advice. Don’t attempt to diagnose and treat your puppy at home, since you can make matters even worse. 

And if you have any concerns about how often and when can you give a puppy a bath, talk with your veterinarian or a professional dog groomer.

They will be able to tell you how often to bathe a puppy based on their coat type, age, and potential skin problems. 

FAQs About Giving A Puppy A Bath

When Can You Give A Puppy A Bath For The First Time?

You can bathe your puppy for the first time when they are at least eight weeks old. Younger puppies don’t know how to self-regulate their body temperature and can easily get chilled and sick.

If your puppy is very dirty but too young for a proper bath, you can use a damp cloth to wipe their coat for a quick clean. 

Can You Bathe A Puppy A Puppy At 8 Weeks Old?

You can safely bathe an eight-week-old puppy, and this is the right time to get your pup familiar with bathing. However, if your puppy isn’t extremely smelly or dirty, you can wait until your pup is 12 weeks old and use a damp cloth to freshen its coat in the meantime.

If your puppy really needs a bath, be gentle and make bath time enjoyable for both you and your puppy. 

How Often Can You Give A Puppy A Bath?

Generally speaking, puppies older than two months should be bathed once a month. However, how often you should bathe your puppy depends on a lot of factors, such as their coat type, lifestyle, age, and any skin problems. 

Puppies that live indoors and spend a lot of time inside the house won’t need frequent baths since they won’t get smelly and dirty as easily.

On the other hand, puppies that spend a lot of time outside are bound to get dirty faster and will have to be bathed often to stay clean and fresh-smelling. 

What Do You Wash A Puppy With?

You should only bathe your pup with a pH-balanced puppy shampoo. Never use human shampoo, dish soap, or baby shampoo to wash your puppy.

These products aren’t formulated to be used on dogs and can dry and damage a puppy’s sensitive skin.

Choose an all-natural puppy shampoo that contains oatmeal and aloe vera, which are gentle ingredients that can moisturize your puppy’s skin.

Shampoo and conditioner can be used on puppies that have medium or long coats and will make brushing much easier. 

How Do I Dry My Puppy After A Bath? 

Use a towel to quickly dry your puppy immediately after a bath. You may need to use more than one towel, especially if your pup has a medium or long double coat.

Using a towel, gently squeeze and rub their fur to get as much water out of it as possible.

After toweling, you can use a small handheld blow dryer on the lowest temperature setting to completely dry your pup’s coat.

If your puppy is afraid of blow dryers, you can wrap them in a clean towel and leave them to dry.

Another option is to leave your puppy to air dry at room temperature after toweling but only do this during warmer months to avoid chills and colds.  


If you are a novice owner and haven’t raised puppies before, you are probably dying to know when you can give a puppy a bath for the first time.

It’s all fun and games until your pup comes from outside covered in mud and grime and smelling like doggy poop. Here’s what you can do when your pup’s odor becomes too strong to bear:

  • It’s safe to bathe puppies when they are eight weeks old
  • Use a moist cloth to rub down and clean young puppies
  • Only bathe your puppy with a pH-balanced puppy shampoo

Bathing a puppy for the first time will be interesting, to say the least. Your pup may enjoy getting wet, or they may try to escape as fast as their legs can carry them.

Whatever happens, stay positive, give your puppy lots of praise and treats, and practice until you both find bath time enjoyable.

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When Can You Give A Puppy A Bath? A Step-By-Step Guide - sudsy puppy in a yellow container of water

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