If your cockapoo is anything like ours, you’ll have unfortunately experienced the dreaded smelly cockapoo syndrome! We love our pup, but stinky cockapoo cuddles are a sure sign that it’s time for a bath. Due to cockapoos having low shedding coats, they also seem to be little dirt magnets and can suffer from skin issues. Regular bathing will ensure that your cockapoo stays clean, healthy and smelling great for lots of lovely snuggles! New owners will most likely be wondering how to bath a cockapoo, so as a result we created this short guide. In it, we explain how we bathe our cockapoo, our bathtime routine, how we dry our cockapoo and how often you should be bathing your cockapoo.
If you find that your cockapoo gets smelly a bit too regularly, then check out our article on reasons why a cockapoo can smell, and how to prevent this.
How to bath a cockapoo
Before you begin to bath a cockapoo, you’ll need to understand the steps involved in the bathing process. In this guide, we focus on using a bathtub, but you can easily substitute this for a large kitchen sink or a shower cubicle depending on your home setup.
What you’ll need
Preparation before any bathing session is essential. You don’t want to be mid wash, only to leave your cockapoo unattended while you go and fetch something. The essential things you’ll need are:
- At least two towels (these microfiber towels from Amazon are great if space is tight!)
- Some tasty treats
- Dog shampoo and conditioner (more on that below)
- A measuring jug if you don’t have a shower attachment
You’ll also need to have the following things on hand for drying afterwards:
- Hair dryer
Introducing your cockapoo to the bathtub
Introducing your cockapoo to bathing as a puppy is the best way to make doggy bath time enjoyable for both you and your cockapoo. Even though cockapoos are water dogs and generally love having a swim, having a bath can be a different story.
This is because the large tub and loud water can be scary for your pooch so it’s important to make sure both you and your cockapoo stay calm and relaxed.
Start by putting your cockapoo in the bath and give them lots of praise and fuss. Reward them with treats and let them explore their surroundings. Once they’re comfortable, turn on the tap but don’t yet wet your pup. Give your dog time to adjust to the sounds and smells of being in the bath. If they are scared stop there, sooth them, and try again the next day. Repeat this process until your cockapoo is comfortable with being in the bath with the water running before getting them wet.
Treats are your friend here, as they help to build a really positive association between your cockapoo and the bath. If this process seems long and time consuming, don’t worry, it should only take a couple of tries before your cockapoo is wagging their tail and licking their lips at the sight of the tub! A great little trick is to use a cheap stickable lickmat, like this one from Amazon, that will help keep your pooch distracted while you do your thing.
It’s important to remember that dog body temperatures are higher than humans, so what feels warm to us will feel hot to our furry friends.
Humans are covered in sweat glands, but cockapoos only have them on their nose and paw pads which means that they find it much harder to cool down if they overheat. When bathing your cockapoo, you should use lukewarm water to ensure a comfortable experience for your pup.
You can test the temperature by running the water over your wrist before wetting your dog to make sure it’s not too hot or too cold. Basically, the water should feel pretty close to your own body temperature.
Keeping them calm
A calm cockapoo will of course make bathtime much easier. Bathing a slippery, squirming cockapoo can be a difficult experience. Keeping your cockapoo calm during their bath will also help keep the water in the tub! To keep your cockapoo calm whilst having a bath try:
- Using verbal praise at every opportunity
- Talking to your dog in a calm, quiet manner
- Have a partner on hand to provide treats to your cockapoo when they are displaying calm behaviours (two sets of hands can be easier than one!)
All dogs respond to their owner’s emotions, so remember to take steps to keep yourself calm too. This is especially important in the early stages of learning how to bath a cockapoo – particularly when you seem to be getting wetter than your pup!
If necessary, you can play some soothing music in the background just to help remind you to keep calm – Enya is our go to choice!
Bathing your cockapoo
To actually bathe your cockapoo it’s best to think about their body in the following rough sections: head, back, sides, paws, belly, bottom and tail. Don’t actually run a full bath or anything like that as it will just end up with more water on the floor! Instead, use a measuring jug or a shower attachment if you have one.
First soak all of the above sections, apart from the head, until they are all dripping wet. Cockapoo coats are quite thick, so allow time when soaking them so the water gets all the way through to their skin.
With the head still dry, start applying the shampoo by massaging it into your cockapoo’s fur. Start at the top of your dogs back and your way down to their tail, not forgetting to clean their sides and belly. If you get the massaging right, they’ll soon relax!
Some people recommend using a flannel to apply shampoo as a way to prevent new fur tangles, but to be honest, we’ve never done this and never had any problems.
Then, apply the shampoo to their bottom and belly (not forgetting their armpits). Once you’ve got a good lather all over, rinse out the shampoo. Make sure to be thorough during this step, as leaving shampoo residue can cause skin irritations. A good way to test that the shampoo has rinsed out is to firmly press down on your cockapoo’s fur – the water should run clear.
Once their body is nice and clean, it’s time to start to bathe your cockapoo’s head. The reason for leaving this step til last is because this is the most “uncomfortable” part of bath time for dogs. The process for the head is the same as before, but you should be careful to prevent water and soap from getting into their eyes or ears (as this can lead to fungal or bacterial infections and you’ll then need to clean your cockapoo’s ears).
A good tip to help with this is to use your free hand as a physical barrier. We find if you firmly cover the opening to their ear while you pour water on, then this keeps them nice and dry.
As cockapoos have curly coats that are prone to knots (and our cockapoo Ziggy is no exception) we always use a dog conditioner to help keep our cockapoo’s fur soft and tangle free. This is not essential for cleaning your cockapoo but we do find it helps with the wider grooming process, and keeping knots at bay.
If you are using a conditioner just repeat the washing process starting on your cockapoo’s back and again make sure to rinse the conditioner out thoroughly.
Recommended article: How to Clean Cockapoo Ears (Easy Steps)
End of bath routine
To finish your cockapoo’s bathing routine, gently lift them out of the bath and place them on the towels laid out on the floor. Over time, this lifting reinforces a really important rule – that they should only leave the bathtub when you pick them up. This helps to prevent any wet escape attempts!
Once they’re out, use another towel and carefully give them a good rub down, removing the majority of the water left in their fur and make sure to positively raise your cockapoo at every opportunity.
It is during the toweling of our cockapoo that we find he is more likely to shake (sending water all over us and the bathroom!) so using a large towel for this step definitely helps to shield the walls from getting wet.
Once your cockapoo is somewhat dry they will naturally have a lot of excess energy after sitting so nice and calmly for so long. So in order to allow our cockapoo a positive way to release this energy, we immediately let him outside to do a little wee and a few laps of the garden!
Once, we forgot to do this final step in how to bath a cockapoo: cue Ziggy running around the house, jumping off the sofas and getting all the cushions wet!
How to dry a cockapoo
Cockapoo coats are one of the things that makes them so cute, but it is also a complicated thing to take care of. After having bathed your cockapoo, it’s important to understand how to dry a cockapoo to make sure to dry them properly.
Towel drying a cockapoo
Towel drying is a great way to remove all the excess moisture from your cockapoo’s fur. We always give Ziggy a good towel drying before he gets his blow dry. You will be amazed at the amount of water that gets trapped in cockapoo fur.
We recommend using a large, microfibre towel when towel drying your cockapoo. Not only does it absorb all the excess water much easier than a normal towel but it dries so quickly.
Blow drying a cockapoo
Blow drying your cockapoo is a really important step in the bathing process. Due to their thick curly fur, excess water can get caught between their skin and fur and cause matting.
Towel drying alone won’t get rid of this water easily, so blow drying really is a step that you can’t skip. Unfortunately, hair dryers are extremely loud and unnerving for any dog. The best way to get your cockapoo used to the noise and sensation is to expose them to the sounds and feeling of being blown on little and often (even when they’re not wet). If you pair every experience with treats and rewards, they may never love the hair dryer, but they at least won’t be scared of it!
To blow dry our cockapoo, we use our own hairdryer (you can buy specialist dog blow dryers, but we find that our regular hair dryer works just fine!).
You need to make sure you use the coolest heat setting and never hold the dryer close to the skin as this could cause burns. Start by drying the back, legs and underneath of your cockapoo and then finally dry their head. Make sure not to blow directly into their eyes of ears as this can be very uncomfortable for your cockapoo. (Psst. if you’re looking for information about caring for your Cockapoo’s eyes – we’ve got you covered!)
That said, you can make sure that the underside of their ears get a good blast of air by using your hand to cup over the ear opening.
Stop drying when your cockapoo’s coat feels dry to the touch, and make sure to check their armpits and other hard to get areas are dry.
Once fully dry, make sure to thoroughly brush your cockapoo to prevent knots and matts.
Air drying a cockapoo
We’ll keep this short and sweet – air drying a cockapoo is not really the best thing as it can cause matting and knots.
How often should you bathe a cockapoo?
Bathing is an essential part of cockapoo grooming and helps to keep the skin free of dirt and bacteria, it also helps to keep the doggy smell at bay (even though, in general, cockapoos are not that stinky!). A cockapoo should generally be bathed once every two months, as a general rule.
Recommended article: Cleaning your cockapoo’s teeth and gums
Bathing too often can cause skin issues to arise, particularly if you don’t use dog friendly shampoo that is soap and detergent free. This is because shampoos can strip your cockapoo’s fur of natural oils.
As a result, we try to avoid “over bathing” our cockapoo. Instead, we tend to bathe on an as-needed basis. Basically, this means that our cockapoo only gets a bath if:
- He is absolutely covered in mud after a walk
- He’s gone for a swim in questionable water
- He’s smelling a little too “fruity” for our liking or has “improved his scent” by rolling in something questionable.
As Ziggy is white and just loves to jump in muddy puddles, we find that during autumn and winter he gets more baths. In the summer months we try and stick as best as possible to cleaning him up through regular brushing, which means we bath our cockapoo less often. This averages out to around 6-8 baths a year, but there have been times when he’s needed baths more often than that!
We should also say that we regularly make use of doggy cologne spray for our cockapoo as a quick little refresher between baths if he is getting a little stinky. This helps to keep him fresh and smelling great, and avoids the need for more regular baths. Personally, we use this Pro Pooch dog perfume because it lasts a lot longer than other ones we’ve tried, but there are hundreds out there to experiment with.
Best shampoo and conditioner for cockapoos
As already mentioned, it is super important to use a specialist dog shampoo for your cockapoo that is going to make managing their coat just that little bit easier.
There are a hundred and one different shampoos out there, all claiming to do different wonderful things for your dog’s coat but we recommend using a detangling shampoo to help keep those pesky knots at bay. Some people use human shampoo for their pooches but we wouldn’t recommend doing so, as this can be too harsh and strip your cockapoos skin of all the natural oils leading to dry skin and eczema.
Our own personal best shampoo for cockapoos, after much trial and error, is Groom Professional. We find it helps keep Ziggy’s coat curly and soft. It lathers up really well and a little goes a long way! The fact that you can also buy this shampoo in bulk is excellent and removes all worries of whether they’ll be enough shampoo when we go to bathe our cockapoo.
Similarly, we’ve personally had good results with Groom Professional conditioner as it really helps for smooth brushing after bath time. But, as said earlier, conditioners are more of an optional thing when it comes to bathing a cockapoo.
Hopefully this guide has helped you to understand a little more about how to bath a cockapoo, how to dry a cockapoo, and helped to answer any questions about how often you should bathe a cockapoo. If you are new to cockapoo ownership, one really important thing to “take away” from this article is the importance of blow drying. Letting your cockapoo just air dry really is just a false economy – sure it means your bathing sessions will take less time, but you’ll end up with lots of issues later down the line with knots and matts.
Recommended article: How to trim a cockapoo face