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How to Bathe a Goldendoodle and Make Your Dog Feel Like It’s a Day at the Spa

Splish, splash! How do you give your Goldendoodle a bath? To answer this question, I put together this how-to guide filled with my favorite tips on how to bathe a Goldendoodle. Plus, like everything you’ll find at Happy-Go-Doodle, our how-to guide has one goal: happiness. Our sweet Doodle dogs deserve a happy, stress-free bath that’s the doggy equivalent of a day at the spa.

Multiple photos of a wet Goldendoodle dog with a towel and the quote, "Anybody who doesn't know what soap tastes like never washed a dog by F. P. Jones

How often should you bathe a Goldendoodle?

Before we dive into the how-to, you may be wondering how often to bathe your Goldendoodle. This is one of those questions that would seem like it would have an easy answer, but it really doesn’t. It depends on how much time your Goldendoodle spends romping outside, your Doodle’s coat type, and how dirty they get.

In theory, I bathe my Goldendoodle once a month. In reality, my Dood gets a bath when her coat just doesn’t feel as soft, she’s rolled in something stinky, or when she’s had the zoomies on a muddy day. Plus, I throw in a few quick clean-ups along with other hacks I’ve found for muddy dog paws.

How to bathe a Goldendoodle: A step-by-step guide

So, let’s put the “ahhh” in “spa” for our Goldendoodles! Here are my favorite tips that I’ve collected over eight years of Goldendoodlehood and at-home Goldendoodle grooming.

1. Thoroughly brush your dog’s coat.

First, thoroughly brush your dog’s coat. Many Goldendoodle parents wonder whether they should bathe then brush or brush then bathe. Actually, when it comes down to bathing a Goldendoodle, I recommend all three: brush, bathe, and brush again.

Brushing thoroughly before the bath will remove tangles and mats. If you don’t, the water only helps tighten the mats and make them worse. I use a dog comb and a Chris Christensen brush, which I’ve found to be the best brush for Goldendoodles. I make sure that I’m brushing and combing to remove any tangles.

Also, if I find mats lurking in high friction areas like the ears or under “armpits” (i.e.the front legs), I’ve found that cornstarch for matted dog hair is one heck of a hack.

2. Gather your supplies.

The next step in bathing a Goldendoodle, is gathering supplies ahead of time. Here are my suggestions…

For your dog…

  • Dog shampoo
  • Nonbreakable cup or container for diluting the shampoo with water
  • Clean, absorbent towels
  • Nonslip mat to place in the bottom of the tub
  • Lick mat as a happy distraction
  • Washcloth for face
  • Treats to reward for successes

For you

  • If your own hair is long, you may want to grab a pony tail holder to keep it out of the way while you’re bathing your Goldendoodle. Most Doodle dogs have enough hair and fluff to go around!
  • You’re going to get wet. Choose clothing accordingly. Some Goldendoodle parents even make clothing optional!
  • Your cell phone because who can resist taking a few pics of a soggy doggy!

3. Create an atmosphere your dog enjoys.

Just like a human spa day, creating a calming environment will help your doggo enjoy the experience. Also, if you’re having fun and feeling calm yourself, your dog may sense your vibe.

Here are some ideas:

  • Play soothing music. According to a study on music and dogs I found in Science Direct, dogs respond positively to soft rock and reggae music. If you don’t play music, you could try singing to your dog. Splish, Splash I Was Taking a Bath is popular at our household. Just hearing your happy voice can set a happy tone for your dog.
  • Make it positive. Give your dog plenty of verbal praise, love, and even treats.
  • If your dog is food motivated, it may be helpful to use a lick mat that can be suction cupped to the side of the tub.

4. Wet your dog’s coat.

Before your dog hops into the bathtub, place a nonslip mat in the bottom of the tub. This will give your dog traction and reduce your dog’s fear of slipping. Also, it could help prevent a slip-and-fall injury for your dog.

Here are several additional suggestions for wetting your dog’s coat down before applying shampoo:

  • Use lukewarm water. Check the temperature of the water before you wet your dog’s coat. Use the inside of your wrist to check the temperature, much like what you’d do if you were giving a baby a bath. This is very important. Since dogs are a little more sensitive to warm water than we are, even making it a little less warm than you might like it is probably about right.
  • Keep the water pressure low and gentle.
  • Wet your dog’s coat while avoiding the head and muzzle area for now. I like to wash Chloe’s head last because she won’t have a wet head during the rest of her bath. Also, if your Goldendoodle has hair anything like Chloe’s, it will resist the water at first.

GOLDEN TIP: Leave washing your dog’s head until last. This way your dog’s head won’t get chilled while you’re washing the body. Also, it allows you to focus on keeping water out of the ears and eyes.

5. Use a dog shampoo to wash your dog.

“Dog” is the keyword when it comes to shampoo. Do not use human shampoo to bathe your Goldendoodle.

I’m not a fan of applying shampoo by squeezing it out of the bottle and down a dog’s back. It’s hard to get all that shampoo distributed evenly over the body.

Instead, I’ve found that diluting the shampoo with water makes it so much easier to distribute the shampoo evenly. I simply put shampoo and water in a nonbreakable cup and mix it up. Then, I massage the shampoo into her coat one section at a time.

Working gently, I start from the top and work down paying extra attention to the paws, which tend to be the dirtiest.

GOLDEN TIP: Especially for our long-haired or fluffy Goldendoodles, visually assessing the body while wet makes it easier to determine body condition—overweight, underweight, or just right. A dog that’s at an ideal weight will have a “tuck” to the tummy (sideview) and a “waist” or narrowing when viewed from above. For more info, check out the American Animal Hospital Association’s (AAHA’s) article and infographic on body condition scoring.

6. Wash your dog’s head and face last.

As I mentioned in step four above, I wash my Goldendoodle’s face and head last. Also, I make sure to avoid getting water in her eyes and ears.

7. Rinse thoroughly.

Once you’ve gently massaged the shampoo into the hair, it’s just as important to make sure that it all gets rinsed out. This may take several passes. When washing my Goldendoodle, I usually start rinsing from the top and work down. That way all the soap gets off the highest point and goes to the lowest point.

GOLDEN TIP: Rinse the coat completely. Leaving shampoo on the coat can result in irritation.

8. Towel dry working in the direction of the coat.

Once all the soap is out of the hair, it’s time to get that soggy doggy dry! Before towel drying, I usually gently “squeegee” using my hands in the direction of the coat to remove some of the water, so she’s not dripping wet.

Then I wrap a towel gently around her body and help her out of the tub. Holding her like a baby, I pat her coat, working in the direction of her hair and not against it. When bathing a Goldendoodle, my goal is not only happiness but also not to tangle the hair. That’s why I don’t swirl or rub my dog’s hair in different directions. Rather, I towel dry working with the direction of the coat and not against it.

GOLDEN TIP: If your dog knows how to “high five” or “shake,” you can work this into your dog’s bathing routine by asking for this command to help you dry the paws. Over the years, my Goldendoodle has become so accustomed to this, she gives me her paw so I can dry it for her.

9. Blow dry the coat.

After bathing a Goldendoodle, the gold standard is to blow dry the coat with a high velocity pet grooming dryer. This helps separate the hair.

Once you have completely dried your Goldendoodle’s hair, it’s time to brush it again. However, at this point, I’d recommend giving your dog some time to play, rest, or do something else that makes them happy. Check your dog’s vibe. Chloe’s usually ready to chill on the couch.

10. When the hair is completely dry, gently brush the coat again.

Once your dog has had a good break, comb or brush the hair. For this last step, I think a dog grooming table comes in handy.

After all is done, my Goldendoodle’s coat is super soft and feels so clean. Plus, we’ve had a great spa day together! Sometimes we celebrate with our favorite pupsicle frozen yogurt dog treat.

More Goldendoodle bathing tips

What else can you do to help your dog love and not stress over a bath? Here are a few more Goldendoodle bathing tips to help put more “ahhh” in your dog’s spa day:

  • Break the steps outlined above down into smaller tasks and even spread them over a few days. I typically plan on making Goldendoodle bathing a two-day event…one day for brushing and the next for bathing, drying, and brushing. Then, if I’m trimming her hair (my favorite hairstyle is the teddy bear Goldendoodle cut), I plan on a third day.
  • Use your happy voice and give your dog plenty of sweet talk.
  • Always check in with your dog. What’s your dog most comfortable with? Is your dog cooperative? Never take this for granted.

What about bathing a new puppy?

It’s never too early to start preparing your puppy for bath time. If you have a puppy, there are several things you can do set your furry bestie up for a lifetime of happy baths.

When my Goldendoodle was just a puppy, I honestly lucked into making bath time happy for her. She loved drinking out of the bathtub faucet. I turned it on so it was just a trickle of cool water.

She clamored into the tub. She lapped up the trickling water from the spigot. Then I cupped my hands under the faucet and she drank from my hands. She still loves doing this as an adult. Your Goldendoodle puppy may love this too.

Or maybe your dog is food motivated. If so, you can try placing a lick mat on the side of the bathtub to provide a happy distraction. Here are more ideas for how to help prepare your Goldendoodle puppy for the first bath:

Preparing your puppy for a happy bath time experience

  • Before the bath, plan a time to just let your puppy have fun exploring the area where bathing will happen. (Of course, have the area puppy proofed first. Pick up anything in the area that your puppy shouldn’t have.)
  • Let your pup sniff, explore, or approach the bathtub on their own. Slow and steady wins the race.
  • If all is going well, try placing your puppy in the tub, which should be empty with no water running. Give treats, praise, and make it fun! This should be celebrated like you’ve just won the lottery!
  • Always end any new experience on a positive note. If all you get done on the first try is getting your pup familiar with the bathtub, that’s great!
  • Once your puppy likes the bathing area and the bathtub, try turning the water on…just a trickle. Remember, the sound of the water may be frightening to a puppy. Give treats and use your happy voice to give lots of verbal praise.
  • Enhance the experience by using a lick mat suction cupped to the wall. This makes a happy distraction.

Thank you for sharing your valuable time with us and for loving Goldendoodles. By sharing our experience, we hope that you’ve picked up a few ideas that will help make bathing your Goldendoodle a stress-free, happy, and fun together time for you and your sweet Dood!

Goldendoodle hugs and kisses!

adult Goldendoodle licking frozen yogurt treat, photo
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