One of the keys to successfully bathing your pet is to make sure that you are in a safe environment. If you are putting your dog or cat in a tub or sink while you bath them make sure that they aren't going to slip. Placing a rubber mat in the tub or sink will give your pet a sense of security, rubber door mats work really well for this purpose.
Also make sure that you aren't going to slip if water gets splashed on the floor. If you are using a hose to bath your dog outside, make sure you are in an area where they feel secure, and that, if they pull away from you grasp, they wont be able to run out into traffic.
Before you start bathing your pet make sure that the shampoo you are using is very mild. Shampoos that are specially formulated for your pet's species are best because they wont strip your pets coat of the oils that they need for healthy skin.
If you have to use a human shampoo try to use one that is meant for infant children. Make sure that the shampoo you are using to wash your pet is unscented. Washing your dog with shampoo that smells like lilacs is only going to encourage him to find a dead fish to use to cover the scent. Perfumed shampoos can also dry out your pets sensitive skin.
Before you begin bathing your pet, sit down and throughly brush its coat. This serves two purposes. First it helps relax your pet, and you. More importantly running a brush through your pets coat will rid it off all dead and loose hair. This is hair that will no longer be around to clog your plumbing system.
Try to use luke warm water. Hot water can burn your pet's sensitive skin. Cold water can chill your pet. Both situations can make the bathing experience miserable. If you are bathing your pet in a tub, do not fill the tub full of water. To much water will make your pet nervous, and increase the amount of water that gets splashed on the floor and on you. Use a minimal amount of water when bathing your house pet.
When using a hose or sprayer to spray water over your pet be very careful not to spray water into their ears. Also try to avoid spraying water in their noses and mouths. Getting water in the ears, nose, and mouth will not give your pet pleasant memories of the bathing experience.
When rubbing the shampoo into your pet's coat start just behind your pet's ears and work your way towards the pet's tail. Use a circular motion to rub the shampoo into the pet's coat. When you are done massaging the shampoo into your pet's coat use the sprayer or hose to rinse your pet.
Make sure that you get all the soap out of your pets hair. Soap that doesn't get rinsed off will irritate your pet's skin and cause them to rub and scratch at their skin. If the soap irritates the pet enough you could find yourself treating your pet for hot spots.
When you are done bathing your pet, use a large towel to dry them off.
After bath time is finished take some time to play with and cuddle with your pet. This will ensure them that you still love them, and confirm in both your minds that bath time doesn't have to be a traumatic experience.