wet dog in a bath

How To Dry A Dog After A Bath

There are several different ways to dry a dog after a bath. We’ll talk about air drying, towel drying and the fastest method, blow drying. 

A dog with a thick curly coat like a labradoodle can be more of a challenge than a short coated dog, simply because it takes a little longer for their fur to dry completely.  But the principles are the same.

With all the methods below, a quick rub with a big old towel first will get the drying process underway. 


Can I let my dog air dry after a bath

Unless the weather is cold or your dog is unwell, it’s fine to let your dog air dry after a bath. The main problem with air drying is that many dogs like to roll when they are wet. Partly because they are wet, and probably partly because they don’t much appreciate the smell of your lovely dog shampoo.  

Typical canine behavior after a bath involves the dog getting their head down on the ground with their butt in the air and rubbing their ears and faces along the ground. Then flipping over and squirming their back around to rub as much water as possible into your carpets

Now, if your yard consists of a beautifully manicured lawn, it’s probably not going to be a problem to leave them outside while they have a good old roll around. But if your yard is like mine with plenty of exposed patches of dirt, they will head straight for it, and you’ll soon have a dog that is in a worse state than before you bathed them.

And of course, if the weather is bad, you’ll need to get them dry indoors. 

Should I blow dry my dog after a bath

Blow drying is a great option if your dog is not afraid of the hair dryer. It’s fine to use a hairdryer designed for humans on a dog, provided you take some simple precautions. 

  • Don’t have the dryer too hot. 
  • Keep your hand between the dryer and your dog. Spread your fingers out so the warm air can pass through. Aim the nozzle at your hand – this makes sure you don’t burn the dog
  • Keep the dryer moving
  • Use your hand to ruffle the hair as you go
  • Don’t force or pin the dog if they are scared (see below)

You can of course buy special dryers designed for dogs. You can even get dryers with a dog brush attachment. But your own hairdryer is sufficient. 

My dog hates the hair dryer

Not all dogs enjoy a blow dry. Some dislike the hairdryer but will put up with it – others will try to escape and some dogs are really frightened of the noise.

labradoodle getting a blow dry

You have a few options

  • Spend time desensitizing your dog to the dryer
  • Buy a quieter dryer and hope that will work
  • Use an alternative method

Helping a dog to like the hair dryer

Desensitization involves making your dog feel good when it hears the hair dryer.  Unless you can rig up some kind of a safe ‘stand’ for your hairdryer, this usually involves an assistant. 

You need to be next to your dog feeding them some awesome treats while the hair dryer is switched on and off at a distance by your assistant. And the distance is determined by the dog. If the dog is still scared, the hairdryer is too close.

If the dog is happily munching on your treats, then next time you can bring the hairdryer closer.  

I have to say this process, while satisfying, can take quite many days or even weeks to get you to the point where the dog is happy to have a blow dry. It all depends on the dog’s level of anxiety. It’s likely to take a lot longer if the dog has been forced to submit to a blow dry in the past. 

If you don’t want to invest the time and energy that a desensitization program involves then another option is the towel lined crate. 

Crating a dog after a bath

Line your dog’s crate with two or three thick old bath towels.  Take their normal crate lining out first so that it doesn’t get damp. 

Towel dry the worst of the water off your dog then shut them in the towel lined crate with a nice chew toy.  

They’ll probably have a good roll around first and then settle down for a chew. In about twenty minutes or half an hour, your dog should be dry enough not to leave marks on your furniture, and you can let them out. 

This is works well for a dog that is used to being crated from time to time.  Make sure the crate is in a well ventilated warm room. If the room is cold the dog will take much longer to dry. And if it isn’t well ventilated the room will get damp and steamy.

brown labradoodle wrapped in a brightly colored towel

My dog hates being crated

If your dog does not like being shut in a crate then the  options are similar to the hair dryer

  • Spend time desensitizing your dog to the crate
  • Shut the dog in a bigger towel lined area – a large playpen for example
  • Use another method!

If none of the above methods are for you, then it’s back to towels again. And thankfully there are a few more options open to you including

  • Super absorbent towels
  • Dog drying coats

Do super absorbent towels work?

Super absorbent microfibre dog towels do reduce drying times. They can absorb anything from two to ten times more water than an ordinary towel.

You can find them online or in pet stores for a few dollars each. They are great for mopping up spillages too! So if you are sticking to the towel drying method, then it’s worth having a couple of these in your cupboard.

Do dog drying coats work?

Dog drying coats are pretty good. You’ll also hear them described as ‘dog bathrobes’.

They are simple towelling coats that cover the dog’s back and shoulders and have a strap under the belly to keep them in place. They are often made from the super absorbent microfibre fabric we talked about above. Dog drying coats work best if the dog is well towel-dryed first.  The drying coat then finished the job and absorbs most of the remaining water. 

I say most, not all. Because  the dog will likely still be a little damp for some time, and the damp may also come through the towel a little. So it’s best not to let the dog relax on you favorite antique chaise longue until thoroughly dry. 

After half an hour or so, you should be able to take the coat off and let the air in the room finish evaporating the remaining moisture in their fur.

Dogs are pretty tough and most dogs are fairly ‘weatherproof’ so don’t worry too much if your dog is a little damp for a while. And remember, it’s quite safe to let a healthy dog air dry while running around outdoors, provided the weather isn’t too cold. 

If the weather is awful and you need to get your dog dry indoors to protect your furniture, then a blow dry, dog drying coat, or towel lined crate are all good options.

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