If you watch people bathing dogs in movies and TV shows, most of the time it seems like a joyous, fun-filled time for all involved. Unfortunately, bathing your dog in real life isn’t always such a positive experience.

Dogs don’t mind being dirty and stinky — in fact, they like it quite a bit — and many aren’t afraid to put up a fight if they think that it will help them get out of bath time. And while watching a favorite actor run after a dog covered in soap suds may seem hilarious, it’s a lot less fun when you have to do it — or your dog is wrestling and clawing to get as far away as possible from you.

How often should I bathe my dog?

While dogs don’t require a daily scrub downs like we do, they do need regular baths — but just how regular depends on several factors, such as the dog’s environment and type of coat.

Here are some general guidelines:

Bathing once a month works for most dogs.

Dogs with an oily coat, like Basset Hounds, may need bathing as frequently as once a week.

Many short-haired breeds with smooth coats, such as Beagles and Weimaraners, do just fine with less frequent baths. Short-coated Basenjis are fastidious in their personal hygiene and rarely need a bath.

Breeds with water-repellent coats, such as Golden Retrievers and Great Pyrenees, should be bathed less often so as to preserve their natural oils.

Dogs with thick, double coats — such as Samoyeds,Malamutes, and other Northern breeds — do better with fewer baths and a lot of extra brushing (which gets rid of loose, dead hair and helps distribute natural oils that keep your dog’s skin and coat healthy).

Of course, if your dog likes to go swimming, is obsessed with mud puddles, or lives in the country and does a lot of rolling in who-knows-what, then you may want to bathe more frequently than if that same dog lived in a condo in the ‘burbs.

That said, avoid bathing more often than truly necessary, or you’ll strip your dog’s coat of its natural.

Oils, making it dry and more prone to dandruff, friezes, and mats. Some shampoos may dry or irritate the dog’s skin more than others, in which case you should bathe less often or try a different shampoo.

Basically, the best way to gauge when your dog needs a bath is to give her a good sniff. How does she smell to you? Not so good? Start running the water.

Keeping Your Dog’s Ears and Eyes Protected

Every dog is an individual, and in Rosco’s case, he doesn’t like to get his head wet at all – this is something I already know about him. In fact, most dogs don’t enjoy getting water poured on their heads, and it’s really not the safest or best way to get the face and ears clean anyway.

I’m putting a cotton ball just inside each of Rosco’s ears to prevent water from getting in them. I’m not going to bathe his head, but sometimes water spills or splashes where you don’t want it to go, so I want to protect his ears just in case.

And no matter what shampoo you use – even if it says it’s safe around the eyes – I don’t recommend you lather your dog’s head. If for some reason you have to, it’s important to hold the dog’s chin up and rinse the soapy water back toward the neck and not down over the face to avoid getting shampoo in the eyes.

Another reason I don’t recommend pouring water over your dog’s head is because lots of dogs develop secondary ear infections from moisture getting into the ear canal.

So I’m going to bathe Rosco from the neck, back, and then finish with a washcloth to clean his facial folds.

Dry right
Many people swear by dog blow dryers, but the noise and feel is definitely something that you have to get him used to. Be careful to avoid burning his skin.

The other way to go is to simply towel her off. If you’re going to do this, use one of the more absorbent dog towels that can be found at most pet stores. And, of course, be prepared for the inevitable “shake” as your dog dries herself off.

By making pleasant associations with bath time and remaining calm and assertive while you’re washing your dog, you can make it another opportunity for bonding and to share affection. Just be patient.