How to Wash a Dog Outside

Stand back when your dog shakes!
Stand back when your dog shakes! (Image: German shepherd dog enjoying to be sprayed with water. image by zenshot from

Bathing a dog outdoors requires some previous planning, but is generally as easy as bathing a dog indoors. In fact, it is often even easier, since the mobility of a garden hose is likely unavailable in a regular bathroom. Research any grooming requirements specific to your dog’s breed prior to starting. For example, Labradors have coarse coats that would better benefit from a heavy moisturizing shampoo than finer-furred breeds like the Maltese. According to Doctors Foster and Smith, oatmeal-based shampoos work well for dogs with allergies.

Things You'll Need

  • Breed-specific shampoo
  • Scissors, trimming sheers or electric razor
  • Tarp or garbage bag
  • Towel
  • Dryer sheets
  • Hair dryer
  • Baby powder

Trim excess fur around a dog's ears, toes, snout and rear before or after a bath. Trim prior to bathing if the areas are exceptionally soaked with oils. A second trim for style can take place after bathing.

Locate the outdoor electrical plug so you know where you will be blow-drying your pup. Select a bathing area slightly away from this location. Consider laying down a tarp or sliced-open garbage bag over the bathing area to avoid any mud, grass or insects. Some dogs will try to roll on the ground during or after a bath; the sweet scent of grass is like a perfume to canines, especially if they disapprove of the shampoo smell.

Rinse the dog completely with warm to hot water. Hot water will more efficiently break down the oils in a dog’s coat than cold water. Dogs will pick up on their owner’s energy, says Dog Whisperer Cesar Millan, so be sure to remain calm in order to keep your dog from increasing the difficulty of a bath with excited jumping or movement. Apply shampoo and gently rub the shampoo into a lather; massaging down to the root of the fur with the balls of your fingers. Be sure to completely rinse the shampoo off the dog, as shampoo residues can cause a dog to itch.

Stand back and allow your dog to shake before rubbing the excess moisture from your dog’s coat with a towel. Rub the wet dog with scented dryer sheets to decrease wet-dog smells. Lightly spray some puppy perfume if desired, carefully avoiding sensitive areas. Immediately blow-dry the fur. Water opens up the oils in a dog's coat so much that dogs will often smell worse after a bath if not quickly blow-dried to decrease the smell. Brush or comb through your dog’s fur completely to remove any knots or matted areas while blow-drying or shortly afterward.

Depending on the breed, give your dog a few light puffs of baby powder over her coat and rear after being blow-dried. This will soak up oils produced in the future. Powder is typically used on the Bichon Frise, Maltese and wrinkly breeds like the English bulldog or Chinese Shar-Pei. Trim your dog's nails after the bath when the nails have softened from the water.

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