There are two truths about giving a dog a bath: One, it's easier if you're organized; and two, even if you're organized, you will still get wet. When getting organized, be sure to gather everything you'll need before you even think about running water and calling your dog. That means two to three towels; a washcloth for cleaning the face; cotton balls to place inside the ears; mineral oil to put around the eyes to protect them from soapy water; dog shampoo (and conditioner if you use it); a rubber mat to place on the floor of the tub or shower to provide sure footing; and a blow dryer that's plugged in and ready to go wherever you plan to dry the dog.
Now brush your dog thoroughly. Work out any mats or tangles you find. If they get wet, they'll tighten up and become even more difficult to remove. Then take your dog to the bath area. A large walk-in shower with a seat and a handheld nozzle is ideal for your small or medium-size dog. Small dogs (up to about 20 pounds) can also be bathed in the kitchen sink, which is easier on your back than bending over a tub. To repel water, dab mineral oil around the eyes, and place cotton balls inside the ears.
Never call your dog to come for a bath (or anything else unpleasant, such as getting medication). He'll quickly get the idea that coming when you call is a bad idea. Instead, go and get him. That way, he won't associate the “Come” command with doing something he doesn't like. Of course, if your dog loves getting baths, this advice doesn't apply.
In the Suds
Using warm water, wet your dog down to the skin, starting at the head and working your way back. Apply shampoo, again starting at the head and working back. Massage it in thoroughly. Rinse with warm water until no more suds are running out of the coat. Shampoo that remains in the coat can make it look dull and flaky, so rinse thoroughly. Apply conditioner if you use it, and rinse again.
Grab a towel and start drying your dog. Stop for a minute, and more than likely he'll shake, removing even more water. If you have a longhaired dog, squeeze the water out of the hair on the ears, legs, and tail. By now your first towel is probably pretty wet, so grab another one and dry your dog some more before you let him out of the shower or tub.
Blow-drying your dog is best done with him on a grooming table, picnic table, or other surface that puts him at eye level. It's easier on your back and allows you to dry him more thoroughly. If you have a small dog, an option is to sit on the floor of the bathroom with the dog in your lap and blow-dry him from that position. Whichever spot you choose, be sure your dog can't get away. This means using the noose on the grooming table, closing the door of the bathroom, or having a helper hold the dog while you dry him.
Never trust your dog to stay in place when you're grooming him, especially if you have him up on a high surface. If you must leave to go get something, take him down first.
Set the dryer on warm, not hot. Hold it several inches away from your dog's body, and keep it moving so you don't accidentally burn the skin. Brush through the coat as you dry to remove more loose hair, using a curry for shorthaired dogs and a pin brush for longhaired dogs. You can dry him completely, or you can get him mostly dry and let him finish drying in his crate. Be sure it's not in the path of any drafts.
When you finally turn him loose, he'll probably go running through the house, rolling on the carpet in an attempt to rid himself of the funny shampoo/ conditioner smell. And be warned, if you let him outdoors right after a bath, he'll probably go roll in the first dirty thing he can find.