Written by Vet Tech

How To Bathe A Puppy For The First Time Safe And With No Trauma

Amber LaRock
Written by: Amber LaRock, Vet Tech
Puppies will get dirty while exploring the world. Here is what you should know about bathing them safely.

Welcoming an adorable puppy into your home is an exciting time. They’re lovable, playful, but also, stinky from time to time.

Their adventurous behaviors can have them rolling around in the dirt, exploring new territories, and other activities that can lead to a serious need for a bath.

In this article we’ll dive into the basics of bathing your puppy for the first time, and what to expect!

Supplies You’ll Need For Their First Bath

Before you officially bathe your furry friend, you’ll need to gather some supplies for the task ahead.

By gathering your supplies before you draw the bath you will have everything within arms reach once your pup enters the water and this way you can devote all of your attention to calming your pup’s nerves once you turn on the water.

Some supplies you’ll need to gather for your puppy’s first bath include:

1. Brush

In order to make your puppy as comfortable as possible, you’ll want to brush through their fur to make sure they are tangle-free ahead of time.

Try your best to use a brush that is gentle on their skin, and make sure to make a few passes through their fur to make sure you have removed any tangles or debris.

Once your brush runs smoothly through their hair, they are ready for bath time.

2. Puppy Safe Shampoo

It’s important to make sure you are using a shampoo that is gentle on your puppy’s skin. This is important for their overall safety, as well as helping to eliminate any factors that can make them fearful of bath time.

For example, using a harsh smelling shampoo can be frightening for your pup to adjust to, making them a bit fearful of the process going forward.

Make sure to choose a shampoo that has a mild smell, is gentle on the skin, or is incapable of irritating the skin (Dawn Dish Soap for example.)

3. Warm Towels

Your pup can easily catch a chill while being bathed, making a warm towel a comforting step in your bathing process. A warm towel can soothe your pup as they dry off, and can help them bond with you after their first bathing experience.

Make sure to have at least 2 towels ready for your puppy’s first bath.

4. Treats

Your pup may be nervous to take part in their first bath, so you may need to have some treats ready to go as a form of encouragement. You can even offer them treats throughout the bathing process, which can help to keep them cheerful and less fearful of the process.

Once your puppy has made it through their first bath, you can shower them with their favorite treats.

5. Old Clothes

Make sure to wear clothes that you don’t mind getting dirty. You will likely get a little dirty at some point in the process, so make sure you are not wearing anything of value.

Getting Them Use To The Idea

Your puppy’s first bath can be a bit nerve-wracking for your new furry friend, so you’ll need to ease them into the idea.

The new sounds and smells of the bath can be a bit overwhelming, so you should try your best to warm them up to each step.

Whether you are bathing your puppy in the sink or in the tub, make sure to turn the water on before you put your puppy in the water. This will help them get used to the noise of the water running, along with letting the bathwater come to the perfect temperature for a comfortable bath.

Next, try putting a small amount of the shampoo in your hand and let them give it a sniff. This will make it a bit less scary once you apply the shampoo to their skin, and the new smell won’t be so overwhelming once they begin their bath.

Though we’ve touched on this briefly, water temperature is an extremely important part of your puppy’s first bathing experience. It’s best to make sure the water is on the warm side, but not too hot to the point where it can irritate their skin.

Imagine how nice it feels when you step into a warm and cozy shower and try your best to replicate this temperature for your pup. Also, make sure it’s no deeper than about halfway up their legs.

Since you can use a cup to rinse them of shampoo, you won’t need the water to be too deep.

Bath Time

Now that you’ve helped your pup prepare for what’s coming, it’s time to enter the water! Make sure to ease their way into their water, as some puppies can panic as they enter.

By easing their way in by holding on to them as they enter, you can catch them if they slip due to being nervous.

Make sure to keep your hands on your puppy as often as possible, just in case they slip or try to make a run for it.

Puppies can injure themselves if they slip around while in the tub, so you’ll want to try your best to keep them upright.

As you are bathing your pup, try your best to let them know you are here for them during this new experience.

By talking to them softly, offering them treats, and making sure to pet them throughout the process, you can help to ease their nerves.

Remember, you are trying to pave the way for a love of baths in the future, and are trying to avoid any occurrence that may lead to them being fearful of baths in the future.

Once you’ve lathered your puppy with shampoo and rinsed their fur clean, it’s time to dry them off in the warm towels you set aside earlier.

After The Bath

Once you’ve adequately bathed your pup it’s time to dry them off to the best of your ability. First, allow them to shake and tap into their natural instincts when they become wet.

Your pup will quickly begin to shake in an effort to dry off, so be aware that this is coming!

Once your pup has done the signature shake, you can remove them from the water and dry them off with your first warm towel.

Once this towel becomes damp, switch to your second towel for the remainder of the drying. The first one will quickly become cold and damp, so the second towel will give your puppy a warm boost.

Once you have dried your puppy with the second warm towel, you can let them run free in the area that you deem safe!

Puppies will often run around in a fit of energy, rolling and rubbing on every object they cross paths with.

Puppies are known to rub on the couch cushions, roll all over your cozy comforter, and any other surface that helps them believe they are drying themselves off.

As long as you are aware of this bath time ritual and control the room you give them access to, it can be an adorable episode to witness.

Your puppy will probably be worn out after this charade, so they will likely take part in one of their many naps soon after!

How Often Will You Need To Bathe Your Puppy?

Now that your puppy has made it through their first bath time experience, you may wonder how often you will need to do this going forward.

The average healthy puppy and the adult dog will only need to be bathed once every few months. If your pup is a wild child and is always getting themselves into something, try to limit their baths to once a month at most.

Frequent bathing can lead to skin sensitivities in your dog, so you never want to disrupt the natural oils of their skin by bathing them too often.

If for some reason you believe that your puppy needs to be bathed more often than once a month, it’s best to speak with your vet.


Your puppy’s first bath does not have to be a scary time. As long as you educate yourself on the ways to make their bath time as smooth as possible, your pup will grow into a bath loving adult!