How to dry a dog

How to dry a dog

After taking your dogs out in the rain, or after a trip out to do some doggy watersports, comes the grim realisation that you need to get back home with a wet dog. Your house is clean and smells great and soon that will all change. You can’t really stop the inevitable, they are wet and they will stink no matter how well-groomed they are.

Wet pooches also make other things wet, such as floors, upholstery and practically anything they touch, especially if they are dogs with thick, long coats. Anything that isn’t waterproof is going to be destroyed.

However! All hope is not lost. You can mitigate the spread of the infamous stench by quickly drying your pooch and in this guide, we will give you many techniques to effectively dry your dog after a walk in the rain.

7 Ways To Dry A Dog

Be prepared!

If you already know that your dogs are about to get wet because it’s raining or they’re going somewhere with a lot of water then gather everything you need close to the front door before you leave so you can begin the drying operation as soon as you’re home. There are a few ways to dry them as we will list in this guide so just choose whichever method suits you.

Let them shake

Dogs can shake up to 70% of water from their coats by themselves, according to a report by The Atlantic. That means it’s 70% less work for you to do later if you leave your dog to it. However, dogs won’t just shake on command so you’ll need to be patient and wait for them to do it. 

If it’s raining outside then shaking the water off is only a temporary measure so try and encourage them to do it just before you get into the house at very latest to avoid a muddy disaster.

Pre dry them before you get home

After they’ve had a shake it’s time to pre-dry your dog. If you take a backpack out with you with a clean towel then towel drying before they get into the house this can cut the effort and time spent drying their coat drastically. If you’ve driven to and from the location then you can easily put a towel in the boot and dry them before they get into the car.

Now that you’re home it’s time to dry your dog off properly if you’ve followed our short guide on how to prepare then most of the hard work is already done. If not, then the following tips will still be just as useful.

Air Drying

If your dog had a choice which way they could get dried this is what they would choose. It’s stress-free, you don’t need any equipment. If your dog has been allowed to shake and pre-dried then it won’t be long until they are completely dry.

You can obviously speed this up by having a warm house and a waterproof dog bed with a nice warm blanket to speed it some more. Another top tip is to place the waterproof dog bed in a warmer room for them to sleep and dry at the same time. If you don’t have a waterproof dog bed then DIY one.

Do not purposefully put your dog in a hot room! Dogs do not like the heat and huge problems can happen if they are trapped in a room that’s just too hot. Also, ensure they have access to fresh water at all times.

Don’t let your dog wander too much or else face the prospect of having your dog spread the water they have left on your furniture spreading that filthy wet dog smell we’ve been trying to avoid.

Pooches with thicker and longer coats may take a long time to air dry so perhaps consider an alternative for these mutts.

dog in a river

Drying with a towel

This is probably the most common method to drying your dog. You can use a nice thick bath towel to do this or for best results you can use a chamois/microfibre towel instead which is capable of absorbing and wicking more water than traditional cotton towels. 

The advantages of using these is that they will only be used on your dog and your bath towels will be safe from being wrecked. Specialist dog drying towels will get the job done quicker and easier.

It’s a common misconception to vigorously rub your dog for the best results. Instead, it’s best to pat and press the towel against the fur to absorb it instead. It may not seem like the quickest but it is the easiest and most comfortable for your dog.

Rubbing the towel too hard and fast on your dog’s coat can cause friction and heat and potentially hurt their skin. For dogs with long coats this action can cause their fur to tangle and matt.

Using a hair dryer

Using a hair dryer on a dog is not our preferred method despite it being the quickest and most convenient to owners. However, we will still give guidance on the most effective way to use it.

Before we start with the tips, we should explain our reservations. The two reasons we don’t like this method for our own dog Jeff are the noise it makes can cause anxiety and scare them and the heat produced from the blow dryer can dry out their skin and potentially burn them.

With that considered, here are some top tips to use a hair dryer on your dog:

Introduce the hair dryer to them gradually but don’t use it straight away. Let your dog see and hear the device in operation on yourself in close proximity and then gradually bring it closer to them. If they’re clearly afraid of the hair dryer we would honestly stop the experiment there and opt for another way to dry your dog.

If your dog seems fine with the hair dryer, make sure it is on the lowest setting so it produces the least amount of noise and heat to minimise the risk of scaring and burning them. Keep the blowing nozzle a good few inches from their fur and move the dryer slowly over the body and never stop in one place.

Avoid blowing on areas which have no fur as it can quickly burn and dry up.

In a short space of time your dog should be nice and dry, there’s no need to keep going until they are bone dry as that is another way to potentially burn them and damage their coat.

Praise your dog throughout and especially at the end.


There’s no need to avoid doing things that may mean getting your dog wet because of the pain of drying them later. We hope that by utilizing one or more of our many tips and tricks you can have a much easier time drying your dog in the future.

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