Female puppies come into heat for the first time at approximately six months of age, with the cycle reoccurring every six months after that if the dog is not spayed. They are at the point in their cycles where they are fertile and ready to breed with male dogs. The signs of a puppy in heat include a swollen vulva, bleeding and behavioral changes. When bathing a female puppy who is in season, one must take into consideration the age and stress levels of the dog.
Keep your puppy in a secure area of the house. Male dogs that have not yet been neutered must not come into contact with your puppy while she is in heat, as this can result in an unplanned pregnancy. The Dog Breed Info website recommends not breeding a puppy the first time she is in heat.
Wet a wash cloth and place it on the bottom of the sink. If your puppy is too big for the sink, place a non-slip mat on the bottom of the bathtub.
Pick the puppy up and bring her over to the sink or bathtub. Be patient; if this is your puppy's first bath, she may be scared and anxious.
Turn the water on and test the temperature. Use only lukewarm water, never very warm or hot water, as dogs feel heat strongly in comparison to humans.
Use a plastic cup to gently douse the puppy's body in water.
Pour a small amount of dog shampoo onto the puppy and gently lather up the puppy's fur. Be very gentle around the vulva, as this area swells considerably when puppies are in heat. If the bathing experience is scaring your puppy, speak in a comforting voice and do not make any fast movements.
Do not be concerned if you notice red or pink-tinted water. Bleeding from the vagina is normal for puppies in heat.
Rinse the puppy's coat thoroughly with clean water to remove the shampoo. Remove her from the sink or bathtub and wrap her in a clean, dry towel, leaving her head exposed. This prevents her from shaking and spraying water everywhere.
Wash the puppy's head by pouring lukewarm water over it from behind, so that the water does not run directly into her eyes and nose. Use a small amount of shampoo to wash her head, avoiding the eyes, nose and mouth.
Rinse the puppy's head thoroughly and, if desired, dry her using a hand-held blow dryer. This must be done with the blow dryer on low heat, as medium and high heat can burn the puppy.
Clothe your puppy in protective dog panties if desired. These can be purchased from pet stores and prevent your puppy from bleeding and urinating around your home while she is in heat.