How to give a dog a bath

Wondering how often should you give your dog a bath?  One of the mistakes first-time dog owners make is bathing their dog too often. That will strip the natural oils from your Morkie’s coat and can cause skin irritations. Plus dry hair is more prone to tangle and go frizzy.

Limit dog baths to every 2 to 3 months

Too much washing will actually harm your dog’s coat and skin rather than make it healthy. Your Morkie’s skin can become dry and flakey, and his coat will go dull when the natural oils are washed away.

Generally speaking, a bath more than once every 6 to 8 weeks is too often. Most experts recommend waiting at least 3 months between baths. Try more combing instead: regular combing keeps your Morkie’s coat smooth and mat-free. Frequent combing can reduce dirt and even reduce the smell.

Try a foot bath for your Morkie instead of a full bath

Your dog’s feet can pick up lots of stuff outside including road salt. Plus, dogs sweat almost entirely from the bottom of their paws. Their little feet can end up smelling like a teenage boy’s who’s worn high tops all day!

Clean paws will make your Morkie more comfortable, and a cleaner companion. There’s even a handy little cup tool for dipping one foot at a time in warm soapy water available from Amazon. (Be sure to use unscented, dog-friendly shampoo.)

Hey, how come my dogs feet smell like FRITOS?

The American Kennel Club’s Chief Veterinary Officer Dr. Jerry Klein, DVM, explains this odd mystery!

bag of Frito corn chips

At any given time, dogs have some level of bacteria and fungi on their feet. Bacteria called Pseudomonas and Proteus have a real yeasty odour and can smell just like Frito corn chips.

But don’t worry, this is completely normal and doesn’t mean your dog has an infection or problem. Anything wrong with your Morkie’s feet will show up as lumps or bumps on his paws, or the paw pads are red or irritated. Then it’s time to see your Vet

It’s not hard to bathe your Morkie and if you make it a habit when the dog is young, he may even enjoy it.

Remember that your goal is more than a clean dog. You want to create a positive bonding experience between the two of you. Take your time, be positive, and offer lots of praise.

Dog expert Cesar Millan recommends a long walk before the bath, to burn off your dog’s excess energy. I can attest that this is a great idea.

BEFORE YOU START, make sure your Morkie’s hair is mat- and tangle-free. A matted coat will only get worse when you add water. In my experience, there isn’t a conditioner or special treatment in the world that will help. In fact, these products can make it even worse. (I know professional groomers will bath a tangled dog, but I leave it to their expertise.)

Step One: gather together everything you need before you start

Get organized first; you can’t dash off and get what you forgot. A smaller dog might jump down from the counter and injure himself. A bigger dog might panic and become aggressive. 

Keep everything you need within arm’s reach and be calm and measured. Your dog can sense if you are nervous, and he’ll get worried too.

  • a plastic apron for you.
  • 2 large towels.
  • a non-slip rubber mat on the bottom of the sink or tub to keep your dog from skittering around on the slick surface.
  • a non-slip mat for yourself.
  • a good quality dog shampoo. It must say “Certified Organic” because terms like natural, pure, or organic have no standardized meaning.
  • cotton balls.
  • wide-toothed comb or a coat rake.
  • hair dryer.
  • ear cleaner: an over-the-counter type of ear cleaner made for dogs.
  • treats to give throughout the process.

Step Two: start the bath

Put the rubber mat in the bottom of the sink or tub, and run some lukewarm water. (Dogs cannot tolerate hot water the way we can.) For smaller pets, a laundry tub works well, or you can use your kitchen sink. Some people prefer a portable dog bath, available at pet supply stores.

Take your dog’s collar off and put one or two cotton balls in each ear. Don’t jam them in with anything other than your finger.

Put the dog under the lukewarm running water, encouraging him to keep all four feet on the bottom of the sink or tub.

Wet your dog’s body but leave the head and neck for last; dogs aren’t crazy about water on their head or in their face. As you wet down your dog, praise him and talk to him in a low, gentle voice.

As he gets used to the water, put the plug in, and fill to the top of his legs. Now, pour some of the dog shampoo in the palm of your hand, and rub to warm it up. Don’t use too much or it’s hard to rinse out. Apply to your dog’s body, not the head.

Massage your dog all over with shampoo, starting with the top of the body. Work your way around to the tummy, giving the tail and genitals extra attention. Lift each leg and give it a quick shampoo.

Don’t scrub too hard; your dog’s skin is sensitive and will become irritated.

Refresh the dog’s coat with some more lukewarm water and keep shampooing.

Finally, wet the head and face area with a wet washcloth. DON’T pour water over your dog’s face – it’s like waterboarding him. The washcloth will clean any debris on his face. Don’t use shampoo on his face unless it’s really dirty.

Keep water out of your dog’s ears if possible.

Let the plug out and rinse your dog with more lukewarm running water, starting with the head. Again, don’t run water onto your dog’s face – let a little run on top of the head and down.

There’s no need to ‘rinse and repeat.’ One shampooing will do the job. And dogs do not need a cream rinse or conditioner unless your home is very dry.

Step Three: finish the bath with a towel dry and light blow dry

Once he’s thoroughly rinsed, lift your dog out and put him on the waiting towel. Be watchful he doesn’t try to jump down after his “ordeal.” Pat down his coat with the towel then wrap him up in it. Don’t rub the hair, it will cause mats.

  • Remove the cotton balls in his ears if they haven’t already fallen out.
  • Use ear cleaner to rinse out any residue; the alcohol in it will help dry the ears.
  • This is the ideal time to trim your dog’s nails since they will be softer and easier to cut.

Wet Morkie shivering in the coldOnce your Morkie is dry, give him a gentle, all-over brushing, starting at the head and working your way to the tail. If you want to do any clipping or a cleanup trim, use the right scissors and don’t cut your dog’s hair until it is thoroughly dry. 

Get the second towel you’ve set aside, and pat your dog all over with it. Then, with the setting on cool to medium, use a hairdryer. You can pause every couple of minutes and gently run a comb through, for smooth, tangle-free results.

Keep the nozzle of the hairdryer moving so there’s no chance of overheating one area. Another safety measure is to leave one hand on your Morkie as you’re drying so you can tell how hot the airflow is. Your Morkie hates air blowing in her face, so keep the dryer moving, and never focus the heat on only one area at a time.

The hairdryer’s sound might stress him, so take it slow. 

Don’t forget to put your Morkie’s collar back on – a collar with legible, up-to-date I.D.


7 Mistakes to Avoid When Bathing Your Morkie

The water is too hot

Dogs feel temperature more than we do, so go on the cooler side.

The water is spraying too hard

This will be scary for your little dog. Instead of spraying him directly, let the water run over your hand and THEN onto him. And of course, NEVER spray your dog directly in the face or around the ears!

It’s the wrong shampoo

Our shampoo, even if it’s baby shampoo or marked gentle or organic, is FAR too harsh for dogs. Their skin is only 3 cells deep while ours is 15 cells deep so they are much more sensitive than we are. Invest in a quality organic dog shampoo for your Morkie.

You’re not massaging the shampoo

To get rid of the dirt and grime, you need to massage the shampoo in to your Morkie’s hair, gently rubbing down to his scalp. Gently work the shampoo in for about 4 minutes in each area.

You don’t remove mats BEFORE the bath

A recipe for disaster: take coat mats and add water! Only expert groomers can do it without making the mats much worse. Give your Morkie a light brushing before bathing.

Not thoroughly drying your pet

Start by patting him with a dry towel.  Keep your dryer on LOW heat and never point a  hot stream of air on your Morkie. Low heat takes more time but it’s safer. Lift his hair with your fingers, so the drying air gets all the way down to his skin.

Bathing too often

Remember, your dog doesn’t need to be bathed more than once every 2 or 3  months. If he’s stinky, give him a good combing or brushing and try the footbath.

Try my Kindle Book –

Groom Your Morkie at Home: Keep his coat long and luxurious in just minutes a day

Keep your Morkie’s hair long and flowing yourself… in just minutes a day.

Why settle for a puppy cut?

Instead you can enjoy your Morkie’s beautiful long coat, a combination of colours from the parents, the Maltese dog and the Yorkshire Terrier.  By persevering with your Morkie for just a few minutes every day, you can easily groom him yourself, and keep his hair long, flowing and luxurious. That’s the way the Morkie is meant to be. No more puppy cuts for you!

Groom Your Morkie at Home takes you through the steps you need to know.  Click here to order from Amazon today.