How often should you bathe your dog? A guide based on breed, lifestyle and coat.

It’s a Friday night and you’ve just let your dog out before going to bed. As your perfect pooch approaches the door, a smell emerges. Skunk. The only logical solution is to get your dog into the bathtub as fast as possible to rid your house, your dog and your nostrils of the stench.

A scenario like this is the most common time to give your dog a bath, but should you be washing your pet on a regular schedule? Here’s the how, why and when of bathing your dog.

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Many dog owners decide to bathe and groom their dog at home, while others opt for a professional dog washing experience
Many dog owners decide to bathe and groom their dog at home, while others opt for a professional dog washing experience

How often should you bathe your dog?

The answer varies, depending on breed, lifestyle and coat. Even veterinarians and experts disagree on how often you should bathe your pup but the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals recommends a baseline of once every three months.

The most tried and true answer to this question is personal to your dog and their needs. Do they spend their days frolicking in the grass and playing in the mud? Are they prone to run-ins with skunks? Or are they lap dogs who would rather cozy up inside?

It’s also contingent on their hair length. According to BeChewy, medium and long coat dogs should bathe every four to six weeks, and owners of dogs with short coats should bathe their pets somewhere between every month and every three months.

Dog owners should be warned not to wash their pup’s coats too much, though. The American Kennel Club advises against over-bathing dogs with thick coats — think Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers or Siberian Huskies — because it can strip oil from the skin that aids with naturally insulating dogs.

Knowing when and how often to bathe your dog can be a learning curve, but another good indicator to use is to bathe them when they get dirty. Accidents happen.  Dogs roll in things they shouldn’t, and fur gets filthy. Use your sense of smell and touch as a timer for doggy bath time. 

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How often should you groom your dog?

Brushing your dog regularly can lead to a happy pup and a happy owner. ASPCA recommends brushing dogs with long coats daily.  Dogs with short coats can stand a once-a-week brushing.

If your dog has fur that falls into the eyes, ears or over their paws, a regular trimming might be in your dog’s routine as well. Some owners get crafty with their own supplies, but others opt for professional grooming to have their dog trimmed, clipped or shaved.

Do dogs like baths?

Like most answers to grooming questions, it depends on the dog. Some dogs get anxiety when it’s bath time, and others are just as happy to jump in a bath of water as they are in a pond or pool.

For dogs with bath anxiety, Rover recommends giving your dog something to focus on, like smearing peanut butter on the wall or supplying endless treats. You can also try bathing them like a baby — forgoing the shower head and using a bucket.

What’s common with many dogs after a bath is they tend to go a little crazy by shaking or running around. The shaking is obvious — dogs shake or roll around on the carpet to get dry. Rover attributes this in part to a desire to return to a familiar scent by running and rolling around to get rid of the new, clean scent. If your dog is running around excitedly, it might be that they’re excited or need to release some energy after being in the tub for so long.

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: How often should you give your dog a bath? When to put pup in the tub