If you are new to dog ownership or if you have always had a professional groom your dog in the past, you may not be sure how to go about shampooing your dog's coat. This process is not difficult, but there are some definite things you need to avoid when you start washing your pet. Follow these dos and don'ts to get a clean dog without putting your pet at risk for injuries or illness.

Do: Use a basic, natural shampoo.

Some dogs are more sensitive to chemical ingredients than others, so it is a safer choice to use an all-natural pet shampoo with simple ingredients. This way, you won't have to make a call to the vet because your dog has itchy, irritated skin after his shampoo. Do not use human shampoo on dogs either. It has a different pH and may irritate your pup's skin.

Don't: Use water that's too warm.

You may enjoy hot showers, but your dog is better off in lukewarm water. This way, you won't burn his skin. Test the water against the front of your wrist before washing your dog in it. If it feels warm on your wrist, it is too warm.

Do: Wait for a warm day.

Dogs get chilly pretty easily once their undercoats get wet, so unless it is an emergency, wait until a warmer day to wash your dog. If it's the middle of winter and your dog really needs a bath, do not let him venture outside until he is completely dry. Otherwise, he may catch a chill or come down with a cold.

Don't: Forget to wear gloves.

If this is the first time you are bathing your dog, make sure you wear gloves. Doing so will help protect your hands from scratches. Once you know how your dog will react to the bathing process, you can leave the gloves off for future baths.

Do: Enlist a helper.

This is especially important if you have a large dog. One person can hold him or her steady in the tub, while the other soaps and scrubs. You are less likely to miss a spot of you don't have to focus on both holding and washing the dog at once.

For more tips on bathing your dog, talk to your vet, like Rodney Parham Animal Clinic. They may also be able to prescribe a calming medication if your dog gets nervous or aggressive at shampoo time.