Sorry, you need to enable JavaScript to visit this website.
Your Pet, Our Passion.
Growing Pup logo animated
puppy being held over a bath

First Puppy Bath - The Survival Guide

6 min read

Bathing a puppy for the first time? Don’t fret! Here is everything you need to know.

Puppy bathing might sound simple, but getting your little ball of fur squeaky clean has its challenges. It’s normal for new pup parents to have questions.

From choosing the right shampoo and brush to wondering how often can you bathe a puppy, it’s normal to feel a little bit overwhelmed by all the bathing time decisions. We’re breaking it down for you, step by step.


When can puppies have their first bath? 

A puppy’s first bath shouldn’t be until they’re about eight weeks old. This is because young puppies can’t regulate their body temperature and can easily become chilled. Holding off a puppy’s first bath is generally a good idea but they can be wiped over with a damp cloth if needed.

Once you’ve brought your puppy home, this is something you can begin to think about if you think your puppy needs it.
If you’re still not sure at what age you should bathe your puppy, ask your vet.

How often should you bathe a puppy?

The answer is ‘whenever they need it’ but once a month is usually ideal. This can change based on your preference, your dog’s needs, coat type and what they’re doing. As long as you’re using gentle, dog-specific shampoo, rinsing it properly, and drying them appropriately, it’s up to you. 

What you will need for your puppy’s first bath

When you’re thinking about how to wash a puppy, we need an easy shopping list. Here are the must-haves of puppy bathing time.

·       Somewhere to bath your puppy. This could be a shower cubicle, a purpose-designed dog bath, or a wet room. Just make sure you have access to warm water, the flooring is non-slippery, and you aren’t in a cold area.

·       Towels

·       Puppy shampoo

·       Coat conditioner for long haired dogs to prevent tangles

·       Suitable gentle puppy brush or comb

·       Hair dryer with a cool setting (and make sure you familiarise your puppy with this before bath day)

·       Plenty of treats

·       Ideally someone to help you

How to bathe a puppy: Step-by-step

Bathing a puppy for the first time can be daunting. Don’t worry – we’ve laid it out for you, step by step. Find out how to wash a puppy for the first time (and every time after that!) below:

1. Gently brush your puppy

Before bathing, give the coat a brush or comb to make sure there is no dirt in their coat and that it is free from any tangles and knots.  

2. Get the water to the right temperature

This should be warm but not hot. Puppies will feel the heat far more than you will.

If you are using a shower hose, prepare this in advance, and make sure everyone else in the house knows not to use any water while you are bathing the puppy to prevent sudden temperature changes

3. Place your puppy in the bath

Gently place your puppy in the bath/shower. If you are using a special puppy bath, this should be inside your bathtub/shower cubicle. Make sure the surface they are standing on is not slip (use a rubber mat if necessary) as this can be really scary for a puppy.

4. Distract the puppy with a taste treat

This is where a friend comes in handy - but you can also get treat holders/licky mats that stick to the wall and provide a great distraction/reward.

5. Slowly soak your puppy’s coat in warm water

Be careful not to get water in their eyes or into their ears - and keep checking the temperature of the water. If you are doing this in a bath, don’t let the water level come any higher than halfway up their legs.

6. Prepare the shampoo

Prepare the puppy shampoo by mixing it with water and then spread the shampoo evenly on their body, legs and tail - taking care to avoid their eyes and ears.

Only use the minimal amount of shampoo you can so it is easier to rinse out.

Always read the label as some shampoos are concentrated and so need to be diluted.

7. Massage time

Using the balls of your fingers (never your nails - and if you do have long nails, wear soft gloves so you don’t scratch them), gently massage the shampoo into the coat so you can all the dirt and dust out - as well as being enjoyable the puppy.

8. Rinse

It is important to rinse the fur of all shampoo once you have finished bathing your puppy. You might need to do several rinses to make sure you’ve got rid of all of it.


If your dog has loose facial or body skin, get between the skin folds with baby wipes or a damp cloth to make sure they are clean and soap-free - then make sure they are totally dry.

9. Dry

Wrap your puppy in a towel while still in the bath and rub them gently to remove the excess water - then put them on the floor (again, make sure it isn’t slippery) and stand well back!

When they come out of the bath, your puppy will automatically want to shake themselves. Your bathroom (and you) might get a bit wet, but it’s their instinctive way of getting rid of most of the water.

When they have done this, you can continue to towel dry them. Again, this is where having someone to hold them helps - or you can sit them on their knee on the floor to keep them secure and feeling safe.

Once they are towel dried as much as you can, you can begin to use the hairdryer. Ideally use a diffuser so the heat is spread evenly and only have it on a low, cool setting.
A hairdryer can be a bit scary so always go slowly and avoid blowing air at their face and ears. Try to get them as dry as you can - and with long-haired puppies, stop frequently to brush or comb through the hair to make sure it isn’t getting tangled.

NOTE: You will have spent time getting your puppy used to the hairdryer before bath day!

10. Brush

Once you have finished bathing your puppy and drying them off, comb or brush them through thoroughly.

11. Treat time!

Last but not least, give your puppy one last treat as a reward - and go and have one yourself!

Bathing a puppy: Top tips

·        Make sure the dryer isn’t too close to their skin, is not directed into their eyes and keep the airflow cool/warm but very definitely not hot.

·        When dogs get wet their natural response is to roll and rub their heads, necks and bodies on any available ground, including grass. To stop them getting dirty as soon as they’ve just been bathed, make sure all doors to the garden etc are closed!

·        Small and thin-coated breeds get cold easily, so keep your puppy in a warm room until they’re completely dry.

·        It is very important to rinse the shampoo and/or conditioner thoroughly as residue can make their coat itchy or dry.

·        If needed, you can clean their inner ears using a specific dog ear cleaner (available from pet shops or your vets) but never put anything in their ear canals such as cotton wool or a cotton bud.

·        Make bath-time a fun experience for you both - and if you can have a friend to help you the first few times, it will make it much easier.

How to get your puppy used to the hairdryer

If your puppy coat is very long or thick, they can take a surprisingly long time to dry so you may want to use a hairdryer. Hairdryers can be quite frightening for a dog if they are not introduced properly so give you puppy a chance to meet the hairdryer long before bath day.

Find a quiet hairdryer. Often expensive ones that are high powered and come with high heat settings are the noisiest. Find one with a small motor that is less noisy.

You can start introducing it from an early age, initially just letting them hear the drier in the same room - maybe even when you are drying your own hair. This way the noise won’t be anything unusual for them.

Once they are happy with the noise, you can sit on the floor with it and let your puppy approach it slowly (first off, and later on at a low/quiet setting). From here, you can let them feel the air on their body - with lots of treats to convince them that there is nothing to worry about.


And that’s it – it’s as easy as that to bathe your dog! Now that you know how to bathe a dog, find out the best ways to groom your dog, next!