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How to Bathe a Dog: Ultimate Guide to Bathing Doodles

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As a Doodle owner, you know just how important baths are for maintaining their beautiful coats. A Doodle’s coat is his trademark, after all! Now, you might think you know how to bathe a dog, but do you know how to bathe a Doodle? In this ultimate guide, we will discuss the special bathing requirements that Doodles have due to their long, luscious locks. Let’s get into it.

How Often Should You Wash Your Dog?

In relation to the question of “how to bathe a dog”, one of the most common questions asked about Doodle coat maintenance is “how often should you wash your dog?” There can be a variety of answers to this question, so consider the following factors to determine your pup’s bath frequency:

  • Hair Length: Does your Doodle have long hair? Long hair can trap dirt, debris, and dander (which can cause allergies in humans).
  • Activity Level: Does your Doodle go haywire when they’re outside? If your Doodle likes to dig holes, play at the park, roll in dirt, or go swimming, they probably need baths more frequently than a dog who doesn’t get into trouble when they’re outside.
  • Allergies and Skin Conditions: Some dogs have skin conditions or allergies that will dictate how often they should be getting a bath.

Can I Wash My Dog Once a Week?

“Mine only gets a bath every time he goes to the Groomers which is like every 8 weeks. Unless he gets really dirty then we will bath him. Is it ok to give your Doodle a bath every week, or is that not good for their skin? Wondering if I should be bathing my Doodle more?”

Missy J., Doodle Doods reader

To answer Missy’s question, it truly depends on the aforementioned factors. See how other Doodle owners weighed in:

how to bathe a dog - how often should you wash your dog
how to bathe a dog - how often should you wash your dog

As you can see, people can’t seem to agree on a standard Doodle bathing frequency.

What Happens if You Bathe Your Dog Too Much?

Now, many people said they bathe their Doodle weekly with no resulting skin issues. However, be mindful that your dog produces natural skin oils that promote hair growth. Over-bathing can cause irritation and dryness for both the skin and the coat.

If you are committed to bathing your Doodle on a weekly basis, be sure to use a high-quality shampoo and conditioner. These will help to retain moisture and overall health of the skin and coat. Also, you will need to blow dry your pup’s hair fully after each bath to ensure no mats start to form.

matted dog hair

At the very least, though, you should wash your dog at least once every three months. This tends to be right on par with visits to the groomer. In the meantime, if your dog starts to smell bad, it’s probably time for a bath at home.

I personally only bath my F1 Goldendoodle Chloe once every two months or so, and it’s typically only because she got more dirty than usual. However, her hair is kept relatively short for convenience and she doesn’t seem to get too dirty on a day-to-day basis. She doesn’t stink, and her skin and coat seem fine despite going longer stints between baths.

-Whitney, Doodle Doods founder

Bath time is a great time to check for scratches, bumps, fleas, ticks, and other abnormalities. These things are easier to see when their hair is wet and flat against their body. If you have an active or adventurous dog, bathing more frequently can help to catch and manage these things early on.

Do Dogs Really Need Baths?

I mean, have you ever seen a wolf taking a shower? HA!

Jokes aside, this heavily depends on the breed of the dog. The more “natural”, or wolf-like, their hair is, the less likely it is to need extra attention. Since this site is about Doodles, we’ll address whether Doodle really need baths.

The short answer is: yes, Doodles really need baths. Doodle coats have almost no resemblance to a wolf’s coat. In fact, they almost resemble human hair more than anything. As such, Doodles have significantly more issues with trapped dirt and debris than a German Shepard or Siberian Husky would, for example. This is why knowing how to bathe a dog properly when you have a Doodle is very important.

At What Age Can You Bathe a Puppy?

You can bathe a puppy starting the day you bring him home! Bathing is a great introductory activity to the greater experience of grooming. The sooner you get a Doodle puppy familiar with the process, the better off he will be at handling a long life of frequent grooming.

What You’ll Need to Wash Your Dog

Sure, you can get away with just a shower sprayer and some dog shampoo. But if you really want to give yourself and your Doodle a good bath experience, consider adding a few more items to your pup’s bath time arsenal. The following items are sure to turn “just a bath” into a full-on spa day for your Dood (…and lord knows he deserves it)!

Dog Bath Tub

Step up your “how to bathe a dog” game by adding a dedicated, elevated dog bath tub to your home. These dog washing stations come in a variety of shapes and sizes, but all have one overarching goal: to save your back. Here are a few highly-rated dog bath tub products:

Portable Dog Shower

If you’d rather know how to bathe a dog without a big dog bath tub, perhaps a portable dog shower might be better suited for you. These are perfect for families who move around a lot or go on outdoor adventures with their Doodle. There are a variety of devices that are either electric powered, or not. Some highly-rated portable dog shower products include:

Pet Shower Sprayer

For those who simply want an easy, affordable method for how to bathe a dog, pet shower sprayer attachments are great for using in regular bathtubs. With a pet sprayer for your shower, you simply attach it to your shower head or faucet so you can bathe your pup in the comfort of your bathroom (with great water pressure!). Some highly-rated pet shower sprayer products include:

Best Dog Shampoo for Your Doodle

If you end up with none of the other items on this list, make sure you at least grab some high-quality dog shampoo. There are plenty of them on the market, so be sure to choose the best dog shampoo for your Doodle with our ultimate list.

best dog shampoo for Doodle Coat Care, Various Purposes

What Can I Use to Wash My Dog if I Don’t Have Dog Shampoo?

What can you wash your dog with if you don’t have dog shampoo? The absolute safest option: water. Water is gentle, pH-neutral so it won’t break down your dog’s acid mantle (source), and will get the job done until you can get your hands on an official bottle of dog shampoo.

In terms of washing your Doodle with just water – you can, but it probably won’t suffice. Since Doodles sport naturally long hair, you want to make sure that all the dirt, grime, grease, and other debris can be cleansed away sufficiently. The best dog shampoo products will do just that, but water won’t.

Can I Wash My Dog with Human Shampoo?

No. Human shampoo is not pH-balanced for a dog’s skin. In fact, human shampoo is more acidic, and if used on a dog, it will break down your dog’s acid mantle.

“The acid mantle protects the topmost layer of the skin, the stratum corneum, from contaminants such as viruses and bacteria. It also keeps the body hydrated by absorbing water and reducing evaporation.”

AKC (source)

Can You Use Human Conditioner on Dogs?

No, for the same reason as stated above.

Can I Use Body Wash on My Dog?

No, for the same reason as stated above.

Can I Use Baby Shampoo on My Dog?

While it’s a big no-no to use human shampoo on a dog, baby shampoo is the exception. It’s the one human product that’s safe and effective for dogs. This is because baby shampoo is specifically formulated to be gentle and mild. We all know that a baby’s skin is highly susceptible to irritation, which is why most baby shampoo products contain only simple ingredients.

In other words, if you’re wondering “is baby shampoo ok for dogs”, the answer is yes. You can safely use baby shampoo on your Doodle, but only if you don’t have any actual dog shampoo on hand.

Can I Use Dove Soap on My Dog?

If you’re really in a pinch and can’t wait until you can grab some dog shampoo, it would probably be okay to use Dove soap on occasion to wash your Doodle. Dove soap and Ivory soap are the most gentle of bar soaps. Preferably, use the Dove Sensitive Skin Unscented Beauty Bar, since it is an unscented, hypoallergenic soap and is extra gentle on sensitive skin. Just be sure to rinse your dog thoroughly, and don’t make a habit of using Dove soap.

Can You Use Dish Soap to Wash a Dog?

No. Dish soap is definitely too harsh on a dog’s skin. Dish soap like Dawn will strip your Doodle’s skin of its natural oils. Please don’t use dish soap regularly, and only use it if your dog got into motor oil or grease, got sprayed by a skunk, or has been infested with fleas.

Can I Sprinkle Baking Soda on My Dog?

Yes! This is actually a great little trick when you’re in a pinch and have a smelly dog following you around.

You can use baking soda as a dry shampoo as it’s safe and effective at neutralizing odors (source). Here are some steps to take to “bathe” your Doodle with baking soda:

  1. Brush his coat to remove loose hair.
  2. Sprinkle baking soda in his coat (avoid the face) and let it sit for a few minutes to absorb any odors.
  3. Brush out the baking soda with a brush, use a towel in a drying motion to remove any excess.
  4. Optionally, blow out any excess baking soda with a force dryer (see below for recommendations).

Can I Put Febreeze on My Dog?

Please don’t do this. While claimed to be safe to use around pets, Febreze is only intended for use on fabrics. It should not be sprayed directly on any pet, and pets should be kept away from sprayed fabrics until the product dries.

Dog Bathing Brush

A dog bathing brush is used to increase lathering of shampoo, allowing less product to go further. The tips are also meant to achieve a deeper cleanse, while quickly scrubbing away dirt, dander, and loose hair. A few highly-rated dog bathing brush products include:

Slow Feeder Dog Mat (How to Bathe a Dog that Hates Water!)

A slow feeder dog mat can help to keep you and your Doodle happy during bathing. These are especially great for bathing a dog that hates water. Simply spread some peanut butter on the mat and then stick it to the wall of your bathtub or shower. It will certainly get your dog’s attention and make him feel at ease. Some highly-rated slow feeder dog mat products include:

Condiment Bottle

Wait…what? A condiment bottle? Yes!

Here’s a wonderful hack for washing your Doodle. Sometimes the shampoo can be way too thick, especially for Doodle hair, and might fall straight off the coat when trying to apply it.

This hack to prevent wasted shampoo is simple – use a condiment bottle! The bottle also helps to provide a much more even distribution of shampoo.

Simply put two inches of the thick shampoo into the bottle and fill the rest with hot water. Shake gently to mix.

This will allow you to apply the diluted shampoo all over your Doodle’s body and to really control where you want it to go. This way, you can target and focus on extra dirty areas with ease!

How Do I Dry My Dog After a Bath?

Dog Towel

If you’re wondering “how do I dry my dog after a bath”, a dog towel is going to be your first step. Using a dedicated dog towel will be extremely useful for drying a long-haired Doodle.

Specialized dog towels are super absorbent and can hold up to many times their own weight in water. Quickly dry off your Doodle after bath time, or after a rompin’ outside in the rain with a dog towel that is made for tackling a muddy and soaked pet. Some highly-rated dog towel products include:

Dog Hair Dryer

After using a dog towel to get most of the water off your Doodle’s coat, you will want to use a dog hair dryer in order to keep mats at bay. Dog hair dryers are different from regular hair dryers in that they are higher in velocity. This means that they can forcibly blow out and dry dog hair quickly and efficiently. A dog hair dryer will dry a Doodle’s “undercoat” and eliminate after-bath “wet dog smell”. A few highly-rated dog hair dryer products include:

Can You Let Your Dog Air Dry?

I mean, no one’s stopping you from not using a dog hair dryer. But blow drying your Doodle until his coat is completely dry will make him look his best. And we all know how important it is to maintain that trademark Doodle look!

Look, you can leave your Doodle outside to air dry. But it’s likely that he will end up rolling in the grass or dirt and ruin all of your hard work. Air drying is also not recommended for Doodles since they have thick, long hair.

“Usually air drying is not recommended because it can cause fungus growth in between the paw pads or under the armpit, and can also cause more serious problems like an ear infection. If a dog with long hair or an undercoat is left to air dry, it may cause matting of the fur and other skin problems like hot spots.” (Source)

It may seem like an annoying extra step, but blow drying your Doodle’s hair is an important one. After using a dog hair dryer, your Doodle’s hair will be straight, fluffy, clean, and much easier to brush through.

Drying Before Grooming

Now, if you are bathing in preparation for a home grooming session, you have some options when it comes to drying the hair.

Depending on how long (or short) you will be clipping your Doodle’s coat, it may not make much sense to spend a ton of time blow drying your Doodle, only to clip all his hair off in the end.

This would be the case if you’re going to be using a clipper blade by itself (rather than in conjunction with clipper combs). In this scenario, you don’t need to blow dry him beforehand. You can if you want to, but air-drying can be fine in this case.

However, if you will be using clipper combs, you really, really need to blow dry your Doodle with a force dryer before clipping him. If you don’t, you won’t get a good finish, your blades will yell at you, and hair is going to get snagged and not go through the coat cleanly.

How to Bathe a Dog – 13 Steps to Take for Doodles

Here’s a short video on how to bathe a dog. In this video, I also demo the aforementioned Rinse Ace pet shower sprayer that I personally use. (Watch until the end and you’ll see why you shouldn’t let your dog outside to air dry…HA!)

YouTube video

Step 1) Brush Your Doodle

If you’ve ever wondered if you should brush your dog before or after a bath, the answer is: both! Likewise, it is better to brush a dog when he’s totally dry.

Now, we all know how prone to matting Doodles are. For Doodles, brushing out the coat entirely before bath time is extremely important. This is because matted dog hair will get worse when it becomes wet. Be sure to brush all the way down to the skin and clear out every single knot and mat before the bath.

line brushing doodles

Step 2) Wet Your Doodle With Warm Water

Run warm water all over the body to get the coat thoroughly wet, except for the head and face.

goldendoodle bath how to bathe a dog

Step 3) Apply Dog Shampoo and Lather Into the Coat

Apply a generous amount of dog shampoo to your Doodle’s coat. Using your hands or a dog bath brush, lather the shampoo deep into the coat. Get the shampoo around his entire body, including his belly, privates, and tail, but not the head and face yet.

how to bathe a dog

Step 4) Rinse the Shampoo Off

Rinse the shampoo off your Doodle with warm water. Use your hands to rinse and to ensure that all the shampoo is being washed away. Be extra diligent about rinsing under his arm pits and around his groin.

Residual shampoo left in the coat or on your dog’s skin may cause skin irritation.

Step 5) Wet Your Doodle’s Head and Face

Let’s work on your Doodle’s head and face now. Rinse with warm water until all areas are wet, ensuring that water does not get into his ears or run directly into his eyes or nose.

Step 6) Apply Dog Shampoo and Lather

Apply a generous amount of dog shampoo to your Doodle’s head, neck, and face. A tearless dog shampoo is nice to have on hand specifically for the face. Use your hands and fingers only for more precision. Lather the shampoo deep into the hair on the face and muzzle, paying extra attention to tear stains or beard stains. Be extra careful not to get the shampoo in his eyes, ears, or mouth.

goldendoodle bath how to bathe a dog

Step 7) Rinse the Shampoo Off

Rinse the shampoo off your Doodle’s head and face with warm water. Use your hands to rinse and to ensure that all the shampoo is being washed away. Again, be extra careful not to get the shampoo in his eyes, ears, or mouth. Use one hand to cover his eyes or pull back the ears while rinsing those areas.

Step 8) Rinse Your Entire Doodle Once More

Run over your Doodle’s entire body once more for good measure and to warm him up a bit.

Step 9) Allow Your Doodle to Shake Himself Off

Take a step back and encourage your dog to shake himself off a few times. He’ll probably even do it without you asking…and without notice (so get your towel ready to cover yourself up!). This will help eliminate excess water before you step in with the next drying methods.

You can also gently squeeze excess water out of areas with long hair. I like to “ring out” Chloe’s ears, beard, and paws before getting her out of the tub.

Step 10) Dry Your Doodle With a Dog Towel

Using a dog towel, dry him off thoroughly until no more water can be absorbed into the towel.

Step 11) Use the Dog Hair Dryer

Most likely the dog towel will not have dried your Doodle off completely, particularly his “undercoat”. This is when you’ll need your dog hair dryer.

Start off with a low power setting and a low temperature. Blow the air all over while using your fingers to comb through and separate the wet hairs. Gradually turn up the power, and temperature if necessary.

Once your dog is completely dry, move on to the next step.

Step 12) Brush Your Doodle…Again

Since your Doodle’s hair was just wet, it was especially prone to tangles and matting. This is why brushing your Doodle after his bath, when he’s completely dry, is very important. You don’t want bath-induced tangles to turn into full-blown mats that can lead to unwanted consequences.

Step 13) Apply Leave-In Conditioner

Brush a small amount of leave-in dog conditioner into the hair to prevent tangles and to add an extra beautiful oomph to your Doodle’s coat.

Check out recommended leave-in conditioners for Doodles here.

And that’s it! Now you know how to bathe a dog, Doodle-style! Yes, it’s a lot more work than bathing a short-haired dog, but alas, it is the price we pay for a dog with a trademark coat.

How often do you give your Doodle a bath? What other products would you recommend for how to bathe a dog? Leave your comments below!

One thought on “How to Bathe a Dog: Ultimate Guide to Bathing Doodles

  1. You made a great point about how puppies that are energetic and playful need more baths than usual. With how much my son wants a “fun pet dog” to play with, I can already see him and his pet running around the yard and getting messy, so I have to prepare for something like this. As soon as I find a doodle breeder in the area, I’ll have to ask them what their recommendations are for bathing supplies.

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