Two dogs playing in a puddle, which is why mud control for dogs is so important

Nothing stops a dog owner in their tracks like a rainy forecast. Whether your canine companion is a sleek American Staffordshire or a fluffy Golden Retriever, there’s guaranteed to be just one thing on your mind: The impossible task of mud control for dogs.

So why do dogs insist on getting muddy right after a bath?

Is it possible to keep your dog clean after a rainy day?

And how do you keep muddy paw prints at bay?

We don’t know the secret to keep Fido from running for the nearest puddle at every opportunity. But we do have a few tips on how to reverse the mess as quickly and easily as possible when the inevitable happens!

Why Do Dogs Love Playing in the Mud?

A dog shaking water off of him while standing in a lake, showing how essential mud control for dogs really is.

Rolling around in the mud is completely normal dog behavior.

Unfortunately, just because this behavior is normal doesn’t mean it’s desirable (at least for us owners).

We might not know exactly what goes through Fido’s brain when he dives face-first into a mud puddle. But we do have a few educated theories about why dogs gravitate toward mud so often.

One theory is that dogs use mud (and even less pleasant substances) to cover their natural scent.

Our dogs’ ancestors relied on stealth to sneak up on and take down prey — otherwise, they didn’t eat. Rolling around in the mud could have been a great way to stop a potential meal from catching the scent of a predator from a distance.

Some people believe that dogs roll in the mud to actually dry themselves off. This might seem counterintuitive to us but mud does dry faster than pure water.

Finally, your dog might be rolling in the mud in an effort to alleviate itchy skin.

If rolling is a new habit, we recommend consulting with your dog’s vet or groomer to check for a possible skin condition.

7 Steps to Keep Your Adventurous Pup Clean and Dry

A wet and muddy German Shepherd

Dogs love rolling around in the mud almost as much as pigs. So what are the best solutions for mud control for dogs?

Effective mud control for dogs is made up of a few factors. The most important of which are prevention, protection, and clean-up.

Remember that every canine is different — only you know how filthy your dog can get on an average day.

Here are some of the best ways to get your muddy puppy clean after going outside (or keep them out of the mud in the first place!):

1. Cover up

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Why do our dogs seem to get so much dirtier than us when playing outdoors? Because they’re not bundled up!

While not all dogs are keen on the idea of wearing a poncho and booties, a surprising number are.

Investing in a raincoat can protect your dog from the worst of splashing in mud puddles and rolling in the grass.

Covering up doesn’t just aid with mud control for dogs. If your dog has thick fur, a dog raincoat or waterproof overalls can prevent the hours-long process of drying off after a walk in the rain or snow.

As for your dog’s paws, a raincoat won’t help. But you can try protecting their feet with a pair of rain boots.

Dog rain boots offer protection against mud, salt, and rough terrain. Just keep in mind that it could take a while for Fido to get used to wearing them!

2. Wipe those paws

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Muddy paws are an inevitable part of owning a dog. Unless you live somewhere like the desert, you can plan on cleaning dirty paw prints from your floors, furniture, and even walls at some point or another.

Of course, you don’t need anything fancy to clean your dog’s paws. An old washcloth or paper towel can get the job done in a pinch.

If you want to make wiping your pup’s feet super quick and easy, though, check out a dog paw washer like the MudBuster.

The MudBuster features a tube of soft silicone bristles that wipe away mud and debris. It comes in several different sizes, so there’s no need to worry about whether your dog’s paws will fit inside.

3. Wash away the dirt

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Even if your dog is a regular at the groomer, there will come a time when an at-home bath is a necessity.

Having the right tools will make the whole experience easier for you and your pup, no matter how they feel about bath time.

If your bathroom has a removable shower head, you’re already on the right track. If not, you can upgrade your setup with a handheld sprayer attachment.

(You can use many dog shower attachments outside with your regular garden hose. This is a godsend for those times when you don’t want your filthy puppy to even set foot in the house!)

Do you and your four-legged friend love to hike or camp?

If so, we recommend adding Kurgo’s Mud Dog Travel Shower to your kit. This little tool fits 16- and 20-ounce plastic bottles so you can give your dog a quick rinse no matter where you are.

Recommended Read: How To Bathe A Dog: Tips To Make Bathing Easier, Faster and Neater

4. Dry off

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Wet dog fur is a magnet for dirt and debris. Whether you’ve just come in from the rain or Fido just got a bath, the sooner you dry off the better!

While there’s nothing wrong with using a regular bath towel, it’s nice to know the dog has its own dedicated towel.

Plush microfiber towels are best for most dog coats. They are extremely soft and can absorb tons of moisture. We recommend keeping one dog towel at home and one in your car for muddy emergencies.

If your dog is a shaker, then no amount of towel-drying will stop them from spraying water droplets all over the house.

Bundle them up in a cozy dog robe to absorb any excess moisture and keep the shaking at bay. This is also a great option for short-haired pups that get chilly when damp.

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5. Build a path

While many dogs get muddy when out for a walk or at the dog park, others find a way to roll in the dirt right in their own backyard.

And if your dog goes outside to use the bathroom in the rain, they might come back covered in mud without even trying.

One long-term solution for this problem is to install a walkway going from your house to your dog’s preferred bathroom spot.

You can lay down smooth pavers or hire a contractor to pour a concrete path. Or you can put down a thick layer of pea gravel to protect your dog’s paws from the muddy ground underneath.

6. Steer clear of mud

The best course of action for any unwanted canine behavior is prevention. So your job is to spot puddles before Fido does!

If your dog is an avid puddle-jumper, then this might seem like an impossible task. But you’d be surprised what you can achieve with a little persuasion (and some yummy snacks).

Treats are an excellent tool for this scenario, as well as many others. Training treats are tasty enough to grab your dog’s attention but low in calories so you don’t need to worry about packing on the pounds before your next vet appointment.

Since carrying around a full package of dog treats isn’t very feasible, we recommend investing in a special treat pouch.

You can attach this pouch to your waist or backpack and have treats at the ready whenever you need to distract your pup from a muddy field.

7. Plan for a mess

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Despite our very best efforts, some dogs will always find a way to cover themselves in mud.

The best mud control for dogs is to plan ahead for such occasions. This will prevent your home, car, and personal belongings from falling victim to the mess.

If you and Fido enjoy going on adventures together, you may have resigned yourself to driving a muddy, wet dog-scented car. Investing in a waterproof seat cover can save your vehicle from both the dirt and the odor.

Place an absorbent doormat at any doors your dog enters through with wet or muddy paws. We recommend a machine-washable one like the Soggy Doggy Doormat.

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It’s also not a bad idea to keep a waterproof pet blanket on hand.

You can use this blanket to protect your furniture from dirty puppy feet or damp, post-bath fur. It’s also incredibly useful for potty-training or senior dogs who don’t want to give up their sofa privileges.


A golden retriever standing in a lake

Here are the answers to some common questions about dogs and their enduring love of mud.

Is it safe for my dog to roll in the mud?

Yes, it’s generally safe for dogs to play and roll in the mud. However, you should always use your best judgment before letting Fido get down and dirty.

If your dog has a skin condition, mud or dirty water might aggravate it.

You should always keep your dog away from potentially contaminated water or mud. For example, mud found in parking lots often contains motor oil and other potentially dangerous chemicals.

And while it’s safe for dogs to play in most mud, you shouldn’t let them drink it. Stagnant water (including puddles) can harbor dangerous organisms that could make your dog sick.

How do I clean muddy dog feet?

Pet-safe moist wipes are a convenient way to clean muddy paws when you don’t have access to a bathtub or dog paw washer. You can easily keep a pack of wipes in your car or a “doggy bag” for clean-ups on the go.

Moist wipes are also an excellent solution for wintertime when your dog might have walked through harsh road salt.

What is the best way to keep my dog’s nails clean?

The first step to clean puppy claws is regular trimming. The longer your dog’s nails grow the more surface area there is for dirt and grime to cling to.

You should be able to remove most day-to-day dirt from your dog’s nails with a hose or showerhead attachment. Use a washcloth to loosen caked-on mud from the underside of each nail.

If your dog has gotten into some particularly tough mud that won’t budge (we’ve had this happen after playing in an area with clay soil!), don’t be afraid to break out the big guns.

A soft bristle toothbrush will get into every nook and cranny of your dog’s nails. Use patience and lots of water to soften the mud until it comes loose.

Recommended Read: How To Trim Dogs Nails: A Step By Step Guide For Begineers

How do I protect my car from muddy dog paws?

The best mud control for dogs is to avoid the mess in the first place. If your dog does manage to find a puddle while out and about, the next best thing is to clean their paws before they get in your vehicle.

You can also install a waterproof cover in your backseat (or wherever your dog stays while you drive). This will keep your car clean and dry even when your pup is a filthy mess!

Mastering Mud Control for Dogs

A very wet dog splashing in a lake and needing mud control for dogs

In a perfect world, our dogs would stay clean and dry between trips to the groomer or routine baths. Sadly, that’s rarely the case!

Training your dog to stay away from muddy patches is the best way to keep your pup, car, and house clean. But when you can’t avoid the mess, having the tools and know-how to get Fido back in tip-top shape can be a godsend.

You never know… planning ahead might just save you an emergency trip to the groomer!

How do you keep your dog’s coat clean between grooming sessions? Does your dog love to roll around in mud (or worse!) when outside? Share your tips and stories in the comments below!