Do Dogs Feel Clean After Taking a Bath?

Yellow rubber duck covered in soap floating in a bathtub.

Ah, bath time. If I ever hear those two words again it will be too soon. We (dogs) are notorious for hating a bath. We get the zoomies, often have to poop immediately after, and scoot around like a crazy person on the carpet post scrub. While these are common traits, a better question might be, do dogs feel clean after taking a bath? Let’s find out.

Dogs do feel clean after taking a bath and that’s only part of the problem. Dogs have sensitive noses with a heightened level of smell being one of their superpowers. Clean smells have a tendency to irritate their senses, causing them to crave a more “natural” scent. This is one of the reasons your dog will roll around in the grass immediately following a bath.

You have to understand that humans and dogs are different breeds. While the former typically prefers the smell of hibiscus infused rose pedals, the latter prefers dirt and grub worm scents. Therefore the need to feel clean isn’t a top priority for your dog. Sure, an occasional bath is necessary, but for very different reasons that why humans bathe on a daily basis.

Who wants to follow be down the rabbit hole of stress induced baths and the different between physical cleanliness and mental wreckage?

Let’s get after it then.

Disclaimer: The Can My Dog articles contain information based on the individual research and opinions of the author of the site – who just so happens to be a dog. How you utilize the information given is completely up to you. Proceed at your own risk.

Dogs Prefer to Stink Versus Feeling Clean

Listen humans, your dogs aren’t meant to smell like you. We’re wild animals that just so happen to sleep very comfortably on top of you on a nightly basis in your warm and plush bed. Don’t judge us. It’s your fault that we’ve evolved to this level of domestication.

The one thing that hasn’t been bred or forced out of your dog yet is their need to smell like the earth.

It’s a calming scent for your dog. One that is derived from rolling around in the grass, chasing down a tennis ball, or sniffing on a walk in the park.

In other words, smelling a bit stinky is your dog’s happy place.

Let’s compare it to the alternative. Bath time.

Aside from the stressful occurance, which I will discuss more in the next section, baths are emotionally and physically draining for your dog. We associate almost everything with smells, thus the smell of our dog shampoo rushes memories of water torture and unnessary scrubbing to our minds.


I’ll break it down for you again:

Smell of dirt and grass = fun from playing outside all day.

Smell of lavender and oatmeal = stuck in a tub against our will.

This isn’t a tough choice for your dog. They prefer stinky and familiar scents to clean and freshly bathed any day of the week. Don’t overcomplicate it, humans.

Bath Time Causes Stress in Dogs

I briefly alluded to the emotional wreckage a bath causes most dogs earlier in this article. Allow me to dive a bit deeper into this aspect of the bath time bubble for you all.

Most dogs don’t enjoy a bath. As a matter of fact, even dogs that enjoy playing in bodies of water don’t necessarily enjoy getting lathered in soap and drenched in water while standing still in a bath tub.

While we’re at it, allow me to reiterate the fact that dogs don’t enjoy feeling clean anyway.

It goes against everything they know and love.

Be mindful of the emotional stressors that giving your dog a bath does to them.

There are three main triggers that causes stress in your dog while taking a bath. Those include:

  1. You are scrubbing, rubbing, and touching your dog in strange ways – atypical of a normal snuggle session.
  2. Your dog is getting soaked without the fun of a ball, lake, creek, or floatation device.
  3. The hose, water, shampoo, and tub all combine to make a lot of weird noises your dog isn’t necessarily use to.

I’m not trying to deter you from grooming your dog. Obviously this is an essential part to the overall health and wellness of your dog’s skin and coat. All I’m saying is understand that a bath is different for your dog. They may not all understand why you’re torturing them with the stinky “clean” smells.

Dog’s Feel Physically Clean But Emotionally Wrecked After a Bath

Allow me to further differentiate in order to accurately depict the difference between emotional responses and physical appearance when it comes to bathing your dog.

If you can’t break it down to a five year old, then you don’t understand the topic you’re discussing, right? So here we go…

Physically your dog feels clean, smells clean, has healthier skin, a shiny coat, and sheds less post bath time.

All good things, right?

Sure, until you break down the emotional side of the equation.

Emotionally your dog feels invaded, uncomfortable, cold, annoyed, and excessively wet during bath time.

It’s important to understand the two sides of the bath coin and adjust accordingly. Try to make bath time enjoyable for your dog. Start slow and reward positive behavior accordingly. This is especially important with dogs who are terrified of taking a bath.

Common behaviors associated with fear of baths in your dog will include:

Start by getting your scared dog use to the running water. Don’t force anything else here. Go SLOW!


In short, yes, your dog feels clean after taking a bath. But this doesn’t mean they enjoyed it!

While dogs aren’t technically as hygienic as cats, they do still posses some traits that aid in keeping them clean for prolonged bouts of time. Barring no unforeseen mud wrestling amongst friends in the dog park.

Regardless of how your dog feels about taking a bath, never forget to counter that with lots of Living, Loving, Laughing, and belly Scratches!

Love you guys,


P.S. If you’re new to this world, you may want to check out my Ultimate Guide for First Time Dog Parents. It’s a great reference to get you started on this journey.

This article has been reviewed by our Editorial Board and has been approved for publication in accordance with our Editorial Policies.

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