The Best Way to Bathe a Dog: 8 Steps to a Clean Canine

Dogs get dirty, real dirty. As a pet owner, you know how easy it is, even after a single outing, for your dog to get absolutely filthy and bring that filth into your car and home. Not only is that dirty dog bad for your environment, that dirt is bad for their health. Keeping your dog clean is essential for their overall health and well-being. 

One of the most important aspects of maintaining your dog's hygiene is regular bathing. However, not all dogs enjoy bath time, and thus, it can be challenging to wash a dog properly. While all dogs are different, there is generally a proper way to wash your pup - so in this blog, we will walk you through the steps to wash your dog properly. Following these steps will make bathing as stress-free and easy as possible for both you and your pup, so that at the end of the day your house is clean, and your pup is happy.


portable dog shower

8 Steps to Washing a Dog Properly

  1. The first step in washing your dog is the preparation. Get a shampoo that is suitable for your dog's skin and coat type, a water spraying or dispensing device like a portable shower, a towel, and a brush or comb. You may also want to have a treat on-hand to reward your pup at the end of the bath.
  2. Next, you need to choose where you will give the dog a bath. While many dog owners will opt for an indoor bathtub or shower, if the dog is extra dirty you will probably want to wash them outside. 
  3. Before you start the bath, you should thoroughly brush your dog's coat to remove any tangles or mats. This will make it easier to work the shampoo through their fur during the bath.
  4. If you’re bathing your dog in the indoor shower, prepare towels around the shower to catch any water that sprays.
  5. If you’re bathing your dog outside, prepare a tub with a hose, or a portable dog shower if that’s what you’re going to use. If you can, fill up the dog shower with warm water. We will go over portable dog shower options below.
  6. When you're ready to begin the bath, start by getting your dog’s coat wet with warm water, making sure to avoid getting water in their ears and eyes. You then slowly pour or spray water over their body and work the shampoo into their coat, starting at the head and working down to the tail. 
  7. After you have worked in the shampoo to the coat, massage and lather their coat thoroughly. This will help to get the larger dirt and debris out while also promoting healthy skin and fur. Once you have finished massaging in the shampoo, rinse your dog's coat thoroughly. This is when having good water pressure can really help, as simply pouring water on with a pitcher may not provide enough pressure to get the suds out.
  8. After the bath, dry your dog with a towel or let them air dry. If your dog has a lot of fur, it may take more than one towel to absorb all the water. If you choose to let them air dry, make sure that they are not allowed to go back into dirt, and that it’s not too cold out.

There you have it, the 8 steps to cleaning your dog properly. Like we mentioned, this process may be modified depending on the breed of dog, as some have a lot more fur that is of different consistency than others. 

There is one part of the process that needs to be discussed further - specifically, the method by which you spray or pour water on your dog. As we mentioned, there are a few common ways to soak your dog - so let’s look at the pros and cons of the various methods to see which one is best suited to your situation.


portable dog shower 

The Different Ways to Wash Your Dog

  • In the Shower - Perhaps the most intuitive way to wash your dog is the same way / place you wash yourself - in the shower. Let’s look at the Pros / Cons of this method.


    • Warm water
    • High pressure (for knocking off grime)
    • Able to contain dirt / grime in the tub
    • Climate Controlled


    • Lots of dog fur down the drain
    • If the dog is really dirty, they will track the dirt and mud through the house on the way to the shower
    • All the mud and dirt into your drain / into your bathroom
    • If you don’t have a detachable shower head, hard to get the water where you need it
    • Have to towel dry the dog
  • With a hose outside - For those that don’t have a proper shower, or don’t want their dog to walk through the house while they’re dirty, a hose outside is what most dog owners will choose. Let’s look at the Pros and Cons of this method:


    • Dog doesn’t have to track dirt and grime through house
    • Can get decent pressure with hose
    • Dog can air dry afterwards


    • Hard to control water temperature
    • Air temperature is not climate controlled
    • Have to be close to the hose source
    • Have to be careful about where the dog walks afterwards, as it can get dirty again
  • With a Portable Dog Bath - A portable dog bath is a good option for those that are more serious about showering their pups properly. These range in size and price, but they are specifically designed for bathing dogs, which makes them superior to other options in a number of ways. Portable dog baths are not perfect either, so let’s take a look at both the pros and cons.


    • Specifically designed for washing dogs
    • Shampoo holder included
    • Hose specifically made for getting out dirt and grime
    • Easy to store
    • Tub contains all dirt and grime that is washed off
    • Variety of sizes for different breeds
    • Dog can air dry afterwards


    • Pressure from hose is not super strong
    • Can be costly for how specific the product is
    • Dog has to be lifted up into tub
    • Has to be used near house hose
    • Air temperature is not climate controlled 

    • With a Portable Shower - A portable shower is also a great way to wash a dog, especially if you don’t have access to a hose. The right portable shower will also have enough pressure to get off all the dirt and grime, and some can heat the water so your dog will have a nice, comfy warm shower. Due to the fact you can move them around, you can also move it to get different angles at which to spray the dog. Let’s look at the Pros and Cons of portable showers for washing your dog:


    • Can be used away from your house and hose
    • Can provide warm water
    • Can provide as much pressure as shower at home
    • Easy to pick up and move to adjust angle of washing
    • Easy to store
    • Can be used for other activities like camping, surfing, etc.


    • Dog needs to be bathed on a clean surface or in a makeshift tub
    • Capacity can limit the amount of water able to be used
    • Can take long period of time to heat water
    • Can be pricey

    So you can see that there are a number of methods for washing your dog, and some are better suited to certain dog owners than others. If you don’t want to spend money, simply using a shower or outdoor hose can work. If you don’t have access to a hose, you may want to use a portable shower. If you have access to a hose and don’t mind spending money, you could buy a portable dog bath. Every dog owner's situation is different, and therefore, no option is “the best” for anyone.

    In reference to point 4 above, If you are going to choose a portable shower, you’ll want to make sure that you do your research before making your purchase. As we stated, some portable showers are high pressure, have heating options, and are super portable. Some however, are low pressure, don’t have heat, and are complicated to set up. Let’s look at the attributes of a portable shower you should consider when purchasing one to wash your pup with, so you make the most of your dollar. 

    What to Consider When Buying a Portable Dog Shower

      1. Portability - The main thing you’ll want to consider when researching a portable shower for your dog is whether it is easy to move around. To get those hard to reach areas of your pup, you’ll want to ensure that you can move the shower around, as if the shower has to be attached to a door or hooked up to an external water source, it could be difficult to get the right angle with the spray. You also want to make sure that, just in case you need to refill the shower with more water, it’s easy to move back and forth between the water source and the dog.
      2. Capacity - Portable showers come in all shapes and sizes, so you’ll want to make sure the shower you choose can hold enough water to really soak your dog down. The last thing you’ll want to do is keep going back and forth between a water source and your dog, as let’s be honest, the dog is probably not going to stay still. So make sure the portable dog shower you choose is at least 3 gallons + so that you have enough water to fully soak them and wash the soap off.
      3. Pressurization - Portable showers have a variety of pressurization methods - from gravity, to pumping, to battery-powered. The difference in pressure between these methods can be dramatic - gravity-fed portable showers tend to be weak, while battery-pressurized portable showers tend to be strong. You’ll want to make sure that the portable dog shower you choose has strong pressure, strong enough to wash off and out the deep seated soap you soak your dog with.
      4. Heating - You don’t take cold showers, why would you want your pup to? When you’re choosing a portable dog shower, you should consider whether there are heating options available for the shower. Water is notoriously hard to heat up, so even if there is heat, you should research how it works. Electric heaters take longer, while propane heaters can be almost instantaneous. So make sure you do your research as far as how the portable shower heats the water before you make your purchase.
      5. Ease of Use - The last thing you want to deal with when showering your dog is some complicated setup that requires multiple steps and multiple parts to set up. That’s why, when researching portable showers, you should make sure that the one you choose is easy to set up and use. Some portable showers require multiple parts, external water sources and more, so make sure you know how it works before you make your purchase.

    So you can see there’s alot to consider when choosing a portable dog shower. Ultimately, you want one that has high capacity, high pressure, is easy to use and has heating options. If you do your research, you’ll find that the RinseKit PRO matches all the criteria of a perfect portable dog shower. Let’s look at the attributes of the RinseKit PRO to see why it’s the perfect portable shower for washing your dog.


    rinsekit for dogs

    The RinseKit PRO as a Portable Dog Shower

    The RinseKit PRO is perfectly suited for washing dogs on the go. It’s got everything you need to give your dog a high-pressure, hot water bath anywhere. Here are 5 reasons why:

      1. Portable: The RinseKit PRO is the ultimate all-in-one portable shower. It’s got a water tank, battery and pressurization system all built-in to a conveniently shaped box that’s the size of a small cooler. That, and it also boasts a cooler-like handle that makes it super easy to carry around - so it’s easy to carry to and from a water source and your pup, and fits in the trunk of your car easily.
      2. Superior Pressure: The RinseKit PRO’s battery-powered pressurization means that it sprays at a high-pressure consistently, down to the last drop in the tank. It’s comparable to your shower at home, and doesn’t require any manual pumping or repressurization.
      3. Super Easy to Use: That battery-powered pressurization makes the RinseKit PRO the easiest to use portable shower out there. It’s as easy as filling it up via the top cap, pressing the power button and pulling the handle. After that, you have a super high-pressure spray that you can take anywhere.
      4. You Can Use it for Anything: If you’re going to invest in a portable dog shower, why not use it for other activities? Due to its build and battery-powered pressurization, the PRO is not only perfect for washing dogs, but can also be used as a hose, a handwashing station or a post-beach shower.
      5. You Can Heat the Water: With the PRO, you can heat it with either electric or propane heating accessories. So whether you want instant hot water or for it to be heated in an hour, you’ve got options. 

    In conclusion, bathing your dog can be a fun and bonding experience for both you and your pet, as long as you take the time to prepare and do it properly. By following these tips, you can make bath time stress-free and enjoyable for both you and your furry friend. There are many options for washing your dog, but as we have noted, a portable shower is a preferable one, and the RinseKit PRO is the preferred portable shower. If you follow these steps when washing your dog, they will look and smell great, and you’ll be happier that your house and car are clean.