How To Clean Your Dog After a Walk – Owners Guide

How to clean your dog after a walk


How to Clean Your Dog After a Walk

Here are the steps for cleaning your dog after a walk. 

  1. Using freshwater rinse your dog’s fur through, ideally with warm water. 
  2. Using a good quality dog shampoo lather the fur all over being careful to avoid areas around their eyes. 
  3. Rinse your dog’s fur through again with some warm water ensuring all the shampoo has been removed.
  4. Use a small dot of shampoo to repeat the process on any areas that are still dirty.
  5. Wrap your pooch in a nice warm towel and thoroughly dry them.
  6. If you like you can use a dog robe which will continue to dry them without any added effort from you. 

This is a quick and easy process to follow for cleaning your dog after a walk. However, location will play a large part in how you are able to wash your pooch especially if it involves avoided a messy house. So we decided to cover this in more detail along with some additional information for cleaning your dog.

If there is one thing that dog walks generally produce, it’s a muddy smelly dog. Dogs love nothing better than to run around splashing in puddles and rolling in the dirt. The winter months can become hard work keeping both your pooch and your home clean and even in the summer they unbelievably manage to find a muddy puddle. That’s why we think reducing the mud on your kitchen floor should start with cleaning your dog after a walk. You can also check our article on “How To Keep Your House Clean With Muddy Dogs”. Here are some of the ways you can clean your dog after a walk, leaving your home a bit less muddy.

Muddy Paw Prints

Should You Wash Your Dog After Every Walk

It’s important to understand that although your dog may appear as if they require a wash it may be damaging if you keep washing them fully after every walk. Dogs produce lots of oils from the hair follicles on their skin, this oil has the job of creating a scent that other dogs should be able to smell. The oil also keeps the skin healthy and prevents it from drying out. Although water may not completely wash these oils away, dog shampoo most certainly will and this is where washing becomes a problem.

It’s ok to want to wash your dog, especially if they are covered in mud, but refraining from washing with shampoo’s or soaps will help keep some of these oils lubricating the skin. If you decided your dog needs a wash because they now smell bad. Perhaps they have been darting around in the river or its been raining lots and they seem to suddenly smell bad, in other words, “wet dog smell”. You will be disappointed to learn that water will disturb all the scented oils on a dog’s skin which in turn releases a pungent odor…..which we all know and love. We talk about this and more in our article “Why Does My Dog Smell So Bad After A Walk” 

You should avoid washing your dog with shampoo after every walk, but you can certainly rinse them down. Rinsing them with fresh clean water is good practice as any stagnant mud or water they have picked up could contain bacteria which will, in turn, make them ill. If your dog has managed to stay clean throughout there walk then there is no reason to wash them, especially if they are dry….remember wet dog smell.

Best Way To Clean Your Dog After a Walk

So cleaning your dog is something that is perceived to be easy but I’m sure there’s some of you out there that have had the pleasure of trying to trick your dog up the stairs and into the bathroom….. I know I have. It can be a good idea to clean your dog immediately after a walk. This helps to reduce the amount of work needed when you get home.

Cleaning Your Dog At The Car

If you plan to take your dog in the car to the woods or a more open area where they can run off lead then you might want to consider washing them at the car, before you return home. Doing this can make life a lot easier and allow you to assess whether your pooch needs the full works when they get back home. Below is the best way to clean your dog after a walk before returning home.

Preparing to clean your dog after a walk

Preparation is the key to making this whole process a little bit less stressful and less time-consuming. Cleaning mud off your dog can be made a lot harder if that mud is left to dry so if you are able to remove the majority of mud before returning home, the overall cleaning will be made a whole lot easier. Another good thing to do before you leave your walking location is to pull any twigs or seeds that have stuck themselves on your dog. This is something that usually happens with a longer haired dog. However shorter-haired dogs can also have this issue too.

Items you will need to ensure you are fully prepared are:

  • De-tangler or brush
  • Source of fresh water (enough for a full rinse)
  • Microfibre or other super absorbent towels.
  • Car boot or seat liners for protecting your car’s interior.
  • Shampoo if you want, however it’s better to do a full clean at home.

Use a Brush Before Rinsing

If you have a long-haired dog you may want to take with you a brush or de-tangler. Smalls twigs and seeds can get tangled in your dog’s coat and a brush can be a helpful tool for getting them out. Be gentle when brushing as the worse the tangles are the more the hair will pull. If your dog has a particularly stubborn area of fur you can try rinsing first to see if it loosens the twigs. Be careful if you discover mats as these can hurt the dog, especially if they are left to get worse. Sometimes cutting them out is the best option but it is possible to brush them away.

Use fresh water

Taking a large bottle of freshwater is a great idea for cleaning off the majority of mud. As you probably know mud is usually situated around the legs so a couple of large squirt bottles can help to reach those harder places if you’re on a budget. If you wanted to invest in a portable dog washer then there are plenty to choose from including Karcher and Mud Daddy. Essentially what these do is provide pressurized water out of a hose, allowing you to direct the water where you want. The best part is that you can get attachments for the hose, such as brushes which give you more cleaning power. As a little hack, you can also use them at home instead of trying to get your dog in the bathtub they are quite versatile and we will hopefully be doing some reviews on them in the near future.

Whatever way you decide to rinse your dog it’s important to do a thorough job, especially if you intend on not washing them at home. It’s important to ensure your dog doesn’t have any stagnant water still on them as this can contain lots of bacteria and sometimes cause illness. Washing them with fresh water after a walk is certainly important if you want to ensure they don’t get sick, as an added bonus it reduces the amount your dog smells after going for a walk, but unfortunately, won’t completely remove the smell due to the oils on a dogs skin, as mentioned earlier.

Drying is vital for reducing bad smells

Once you have reduced the amount of mud on your dog scrub them down with a large microfiber towel. Microfiber towels are super absorbent and are great for drying a soggy pup. Walks can generate some bad odors, which dogs are great at keeping with them. This is due to the oils secreted from their hair follicles, read our post “Why Does My Dog Smell So Bad After A Walk”  for some additional information. For this reason, drying your dog as much as possible will help to reduce the smell, try using a doggy gown as these will stay on your dog during the ride home and hopefully they will be even drier by that time, this is especially useful if you not going to wash them fully at home.

Having a good brush can help remove some of the twigs and leaves from your dog’s fur. I wouldn’t recommend brushing your dog fully before getting home as they need some time to dry off. Brushing them after they have been washed helps to reduce bad smells in dogs and keeps their coat looking great.

Cleaning a Dogs Paws

Make sure to clean your dogs’ paws thoroughly as dirt can create irritation that can lead to more serious conditions.
If you’re not desperate to have a lovely smelling dog then this cleaning session before returning home will usually suffice. This preparation will hopefully give you an easier experience cleaning your dog at home. Another way of keeping your dog’s paws clean is by using dog walking boots. These are simply walking boots for dogs and you can get many different types of different quality, check out our article on some of the “Best Dog Boots For Hiking”.

Dogs are fairly good at cleaning themselves and you may find your dog starts with licking their paws. This is, of course, a great thing for them to do however if they lick too much they can create sore spots on their paws. Usually, your dog will just want to clean their paws but its always good to watch out for those extra things that can cause harm. If you’re interested in learning more have a look at our post “Why Does My Dog Lick His Paws After A Walk”, this covers everything from habits to injuries.

Washing Your Dog With a Hose

Once you arrive home its often a struggle to clean your pooch with little effort involved. If you don’t want to risk trudging them through the house to the bath then a good idea is to wash them outside. Below are some of the steps you should take when washing your dog with a hose.

  • Tether your dog to something sturdy with plenty of slack on the lead
  • Ensure there is suitable water runoff or place them in a larger open container such as a plastic dog bed
  • Gather some doggy shampoo nearby
  • Turn the water onto a low pressure and thoroughly rinse their fur
  • Once sufficiently wet lather the shampoo into the fur ensuring you avoid the eye areas
  • Turn the water back onto a low pressure and rinse all the shampoo out
  • Dry your dog as much as possible
  • Lastly, don’t let them roll around on the garden, all your hard work will be undone

It’s also important to take into account the temperature of the water coming out of the hose and the temperature of the air. Dogs such as Golden Retrievers or Springer Spaniels have a double coat which helps to insulate them from the cold. This means they usually won’t mind a hose down with some cold water. If your dog is shorter-haired it may be wise to use a portable dog shower that you could fill with warm water or have a bucket of warm water to rinse them with. This may take a bit longer but it ensures your dog doesn’t get too cold. You just need to get sufficiently wet enough to lather and rinse the shampoo out.

When lathering in the doggy shampoo of your choice into the fur, make sure to get into every crevice especially under their legs. Try to avoid eyes with heavy amounts of shampoo as it can cause irritation for your pooch. Once you have given your dog a good shampooing hose off gently ensuring you get all the excess shampoo off.

If you happen to have a dog that is not scared of hairdryers then you can use one of these to dry them. Remember to bring them in the house and towel dry most of the water off before using a hairdryer. As previously mentioned microfiber towels are a great way of drying your dog and this is what I generally use after cleaning mine.

If you don’t have a hose outside a bucket of water should be OK, just remember to get all the shampoo off of your dog before drying them. You are able to get dog baths that go outside, however, these are often expensive if you want a decent one. Try looking at some DIY projects for a home built dog bath, places like Pinterest are filled with ideas on how to make an effective outdoor cleaning area.

How Do You Wash A Dog In A Bathtub

The effort of washing your dog in a bathtub will depend on how big of a dog you have and how willing they are to cooperate. You can get the best results by washing your dog in the bathtub, with a handheld shower nearby. Here are some items that might help make washing your dog in the bathtub the easiest it can be.

  • If your dog is wary about entering the bathroom, using some treats to encourage them may be your best bet, otherwise, you will have to pick them up.
  • Get a handheld shower mixer tap. This was the most useful feature we installed on our bathtub, they allow you to select the right temperature of the water and control where the water goes.
  • A tether might not be something for those with large dogs as they could pull whatever they are tethered to down. If you have a smaller dog that insists on trying to escape, a tether will help keep them in the tub.
  • Hair catchers can be lifesavers when it comes to blocked drains. You will end up with some hair down the drain, but a hair catcher can help reduce the amount.
  • Multiple towels should be top of your priority list, especially when it comes to large breeds with double coats. These dogs will absorb lots of water and shake it out once they are free, so drying is hugely important.

As highlighted above treats can be a great way of getting your dog into the bathroom and eventually into the tub. However, if your dog tends to feel uncomfortable standing in the bathtub then using treats whilst they are in the bathtub can help calm them down and give them something to concentrate on. In the video below peanut butter is highlighted as something to use as in this case their dog loves it and you can smear it all over the walls surrounding the bathtub….that should keep them occupied.

Cleaning your dog in the bath is much the same process as cleaning your dog outside. Once you have your dog in the bathtub lay some towels down on the bathroom floor as when they jump out of the bath, they have a tendency to shake everywhere. I tend to try and cover them with a towel as they begin to shake, quickly drying them to prevent any further shaking….unlikely, however.

One tip I have now come to use every time I clean the dog in the bath is using a hair catcher on the plug hole. I had endless blocked drains from cleaning my dog in the bath and it was due to the amount of hair that made its way down the hole. If you have a short-haired dog it shouldn’t give you too much trouble, however its still a good idea to catch the hair before it goes down the drain.

I installed a combination shower tap/mixer on my bathtub to allow me to use the showerhead on the dog. The combination of hot and cold water allows me to adjust the temperature of the water, the temperature you want is lukewarm this will give the best results.

Much the same as washing your dog outside, wet your dog all over and lather in the shampoo of your choice. Once you have done this wash the shampoo out ensuring you get every drop. Giving your dog a brush after their bath is a good idea, you can even brush them as you wash, this helps get all the little bits of dirt out from your muddy walk.

Drying your dog’s ears

This is something that can become quite an important part of washing your dog after a walk. If your dog has floppy ears it can be harder for them to dry off. If your dog is a water-bound pup then they will most likely have water inside their ears or underneath the ear. If there is one thing you should do after a walk is to ensure you lift your dog’s ears up and dry them with a small towel.

By drying out your dogs’ ears as much as possible, you can prevent them from getting nasty ear infections which are common in dogs that swim regularly. Dogs’ ears are more complex than ours with bends in the ear canal. Cotton buds are not an ideal solution to cleaning your dogs’ ears but if you have a particularly good dog who will stay still for you then careful cleaning around the front of the ear can be done, but be careful! For more information on caring for your dog’s ears check out this post by WebMD 

How To Get Mud Out Of Dog Fur

Getting mud out of dog fur is something we all want to do before letting a favorite fluffy friend back into the house. There are really only two methods of getting mud out of dog fur and that is bathing or brushing.


You may be lucky enough that your dog’s fur dry’s quick, owing to the fact that it is very short or it’s a hot and windy day. If your dog has longer fur you may need to dry them and then leave them somewhere for the remainder fo their fur to dry. Once you pooches fur is dry, get a dense dog brush with the bristles very close together. A denser brush will take more of the mud out of the fur leaving it looking nice a clean. This is a good method for those who don’t feel like going through the effort of washing their dog.


By bathing your dog I mean any method which involves washing the fur with shampoo and water. If your dog is very muddy its a good idea to soak them thoroughly before applying the dog shampoo. Warm water is preferred over cold water as it appears to make the mud more malleable. When applying the shampoo make sure you lather well into the problem areas where the mud seems to gather, such as under your dog’s belly. Lather this in for a minute and rinse thoroughly with warm water, your dog should be mud free once again.

Should You Wash Your Dog After The Beach

There is something amazing about walking your dog on the beach, freedom that can’t be found in many places. Soft sand allows for plenty of digging, space that seems to never end, and unbelievable amounts of water to splash around in. Not only that but the sea interacts back to your dog with those crashing waves, the perfect place for a dog to go walkies.

Although the beach is a popular place to take the dog and one which I would encourage more often than not, if it’s possible, the emphasis of washing your dog after walking is high. Saltwater can be a healer and also a substance that dries and irritates. You should wash your dog after the beach, no matter how often your dog went into the water, you should rinse them off with fresh water. This will rinse all the salt off of them a stop their skin from drying out too much. The same advice should be taken for saltwater pools, which don’t contain as much salt content but can still dry your dogs skin out. We have an article on “Can Dogs Swim In Saltwater Pools” and “A Guide To Walking Your Dog On The Beach”.

walking your dog on the beach


Walking your dog in the wintertime can add an adventurous edge to your dog walks, of course with that inevitable task of cleaning them afterward. If you love walking your dog in the wintertime then you might be interested in our other post “A helpful guide to walking your dog in the winter”. 

So, there you have some helpful tips on how to clean your dog after a walk. Having a clean dog is a satisfying moment and it’s great knowing your house will stay clean…… at least until the next muddy outing. Don’t forget to check out the website for more great tips on walking your dog.

Dean Lissaman

As a child I grew up around dogs and have loved them ever since. I now have a beloved Golden Retriever who enjoys exploring the outside world. Being an outdoor enthusiast has inspired me to create the ultimate resource on relating both dogs and the outdoors. For more information on me check out my about page.

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