How to Give a Big Dog a Bath Indoors

Maybe you'll be one of the lucky ones who has a pup who just loves getting baths.

Maybe you'll be one of the lucky ones who has a pup who just loves getting baths.

The thought of bathing your canine giant when the weather has soured probably has you pressing your fingers against your temples to prevent the inevitable headache. But rest easy -- shampooing your big pup indoors isn't too much trouble, and you can do it in your own bathtub.

Ready the supplies. This might sound like commonsense, but it's easy to forget the puppy towel, shampoo, ear cleaning solution and anything else you use to spruce up your big guy. Your dog is probably constantly eyeing an escape route. Leave the bathroom for a few seconds to grab something you forgot and he has his opportunity. And getting a wet, slippery pup back into the bath isn't easy. Lay a few rubber absorbent mats outside of the bath area for when he's done.

Attach a hose attachment to the shower head. You can pick up a specific dog hose attachment at your local pet store, or use an attachment you already own. If you have a faucet and not just a shower head, you can use a plastic pitcher to wet your pup's fur and rinse him off, although it will take longer than a hose.

Persuade your pup into the tub with a treat or toy. Toss the toy or treat in the tub, and act overly excited for him to get in. Stand in the tub, clap and talk to him in an uplifting voice. You might have to stand there for a few minutes as he prepares himself. He'll probably duck in and out, look at the tub, put a paw on it and then retreat again. Just have patience. Avoid lifting your big guy into the tub. Lifting a big dog safely requires you to either cradle him with one arm under his neck and one arm behind his hind legs, or perform a fireman's carry.

Turn on the water so that it's lukewarm. Remove his collar to prevent ruining it and so that you can wash around his neck. If you think you'll need to hold him in place, put an older collar on him, but remember to wash his neck area.

Get his fur nice and wet, and then apply the shampoo. Do not spray or dump water on his face. Instead, use a washcloth to wet the sensitive areas, like around his eyes, nose and mouth. Hold his ears up when you clean the back of them so that water and shampoo don't find their way into those big canals.

Rinse off the shampoo. Rub your hands into his fur as you're rinsing him off, so you get all the shampoo out of his coat. If you're using the pitcher, you'll probably run into a small problem when you get to his stomach area. You can't really pour water onto his stomach, so position the pitcher underneath and throw water onto his stomach and groin area. While that might seem like a pain, it usually doesn't take too long to fully rinse him in those areas, because he has little fur there.

Turn off the water when you're finished. Drape him in a towel, and rub him all over so he's just semi-wet. You're not going to fully dry him, but get him to the point where everything in your house won't be soaked when he runs past. Tell him he's all done, and persuade him out of the tub with a few claps.

Items you will need

  • Rubber absorbent mats
  • Shower hose attachment
  • Toy or treat
  • Dog shampoo
  • Washcloth
  • Towel


  • If your pup sheds a lot of hair when in the bath, use a hair catcher for the drain. They fit right over your drain and prevent loads of hair from clogging your pipes.
  • If your pup has trouble keeping his balance in the tub, place a rubber absorbent mat or two inside the tub as well.
  • Brush your dog before you bath him to remove a good portion of hair that would otherwise come off in the tub. If you clean his ears when you bathe him, do that before you wash him down.
  • If your pup refuses to get a bath, call a few local pet stores. Many have bath stations where you can bring in your pup and wash him down for a small fee.


  • Do not use a glass cup or pitcher. It's too likely you'll drop it when dealing with slippery water and shampoo, and that could mean a bunch of glass shards all over your bath and in your pup's feet.

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About the Author

Located in Pittsburgh, Chris Miksen has been writing instructional articles on a wide range of topics for online publications since 2007. He currently owns and operates a vending business. Miksen has written a variety of technical and business articles throughout his writing career. He studied journalism at the Community College of Allegheny County.

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