Step 5: Be Gentle
“Bathing a puppy under six months old is very comparable to bathing a human infant,” says Bishop-Jenkins. “Puppies, like babies, aren’t used to the feeling. They can’t protect themselves.”
Don’t scrub. Rather, use a very soft stream of water and gentle hand motions that move in the same direction that your puppy’s hair grows. Use this same direction when brushing and blow-drying.
Step 6: Avoid Openings Around the Face
No one wants soap in their eyes, including your puppy. Even tearless shampoos can irritate your dog’s eyes and you’ll also need to be careful around the ears, nose, and mouth.
“Dogs’ ear canals are shaped like an L,” says Bishop-Jenkins. “If water gets down there, it gets trapped and causes ear infections.”
She advises using minimal product around the face. Also, pinching the base of the ear shut using your thumb and forefinger when cleaning the face.
Best Puppy Shampoos
Looking for the best puppy shampoos? Here are our top picks from Chewy.
This affordable puppy shampoo is made with all-natural ingredients that won’t irritate any part of your dog’s body. It has buttermilk to soothe soft skin, honey to help them regulate and retain moisture in the hair, and it won’t interfere with any topical treatments you may be giving your pup. As well as being all-natural, it is also cruelty-free.
This tearless and soap-free shampoo has the right pH balance and the right ingredients for sensitive puppy skin. If your dog is suffering from an itch, they will thank you for the soothing aloe vera in this formula.
This is another shampoo made from all-natural ingredients and without soap, so it won’t dry out your puppy’s coat. While it does have a slight coconut aroma, it should be mild enough not to set off your dog’s senses.
This is a great option if you have a particularly smelly pup as it neutralizes odors while cleaning and conditioning their coat. It is safe to use with topical skin treatments for fleas and will also reduce static electricity in your dog’s coat.
This tearless formula will leave your puppy’s coat soft, shiny, and natural-looking. It contains no parabens or sulfate, which means it is safe to use on puppies who may not have learned never to eat shampoo!
This puppy shampoo uses vitamin E and Pro-V B5, organic aloe vera, and rosemary leaf extract to create a gentle shampoo that also conditions young coats.
The shampoo is hypoallergenic, so it’s guaranteed not to leave your puppy with any blotches. It also comes with a waterless shampoo that you can use to freshen up your pup between washes if they do manage to get into some dirty trouble.
How Often Should I Bathe My Dog?
When you collect your puppy from their breeder, they may be a bit smelly so you could be tempted to bath them. But is this a good time?
Beware of bathing your puppy before they are 7-8 weeks old. When they are this young, puppies can’t control their own temperature and can’t warm up afterwards. They could become ill.
The general rule is to bathe your puppy once a month once they are over eight weeks old.
Keep them warm and make sure they are totally dry before they go outside, especially in winter. If it’s cold or they spend a lot of time outdoors, limit the number of baths you give them.
When it comes to teaching your puppy about bath time, the earlier your start, the better!
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