How to Bathe a Dog Who Hates the Bath

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Summer is right around that corner and that means more opportunities for your playful pup to get down and dirty. Odds are that at some point soon, they’re going to need a bath! However, bath time can be very stressful for some dogs and what should be a relaxing and fun summertime necessity can sometimes turn into a nightmare. Luckily, we’ve got a few tricks and tips that might make bath time a more rewarding and relaxing experience for those pups who just don’t want to get clean!

Keep it Indoors
While summer might seem like the perfect time to give your dirty dog a bath outside with the hose, for those pups who fear the process of getting clean, this can be scary and unpredictable. Hose water is quite cold and the spray and sounds can be unnerving. Plus, when outside in the yard, there are more opportunities for your dog to flee which will require more restraint and effort on your part. To keep things calmer and more contained, bathing your dog indoors in the family tub is the best option. You can warm the water beforehand and keep the bathroom door closed to prevent escape. Your bathroom is also less stimulating for your dog than the outside world and will help to keep him calm and collected.

Do a Dry Run
While your dog might already be familiar with your bathroom space, it’s a good idea to do a dry run of what a bath might be like to help ease your scaredy-dog into the process. Bring your dog into the bathroom and coax him into the tub with treats or rewards. Have him stand or lie down in the tub with no water and simply let him feel it out. Introduce your dog to the sights and smells of the shampoo bottles, the brushes, the towels, or anything else that he associates with bath time. Turn on the water when your dog is not in the tub to get him comfortable with the sound of rushing water. If you go slow and reward your dog for all his efforts, you might find that bath time becomes a little less scary each time!

Get a No-Slip Bath Mat
It may sound silly, but simply using a no-slip bath mat on the bottom of your tub might alleviate a lot of the stress and anxiety for your dog during bath time. Many dogs hate the feeling of slippery floors and uneven surfaces and might become panicky when they feel like they don’t have a good grip on their grounding. Using a bath-mat in your tub will give your dog that solid ground feeling and make him feel just a little safer during his bath. It will also allow you to have a better grip on your dog and make it easier to contain him in the tub. This simple trick might make a world of difference for both you and your dog during bath time!

Distract and Reward 
One of the best techniques to help your dog feel more comfortable during bath time is to distract him with pleasurable experiences and reward him while doing so. Many people find that smearing peanut butter or spray cheese on the wall of their tub is a good way to distract their dog during bathing. The dog spends his whole time licking the tasty treat and forgets all about his woes. Sometimes, having another person there to distract your dog for you can be helpful. Have your helper squeak your dog’s favorite toy or even play tug with him while you work. Constantly reassuring your pup while rewarding him with small treats can also help to associate bath time with good things. In other words, don’t feel ashamed with a little bribery!

Use Mild Smelling Soaps
We all know a dog’s nose is much more powerful than ours, and sometimes the overpowering smells of lavender or vanilla can be too much for a dog’s delicate senses. Using mild or no-scent shampoo and conditioner on your dog might help make him feel more at ease when it comes to bath time. Leaving a window open to let a comfortable breeze in and wash out the artificial scents of soap might also help to relax your pup. As a cautionary tip, make sure to use as little soap as possible and always avoid your dog’s eyes, ears and nose. Your pup will thank you!

When in Doubt, Leave it to the Professionals
Even armed with a bag full of tricks and a tub smeared with peanut butter, there will always be dogs who are difficult during bath time. If you find that both you and your dog are highly anxious or frustrated when it comes to giving them a bath, there’s no shame in seeking professional help. Dog groomers, veterinarians, and doggy daycares are all practiced in the art of dog grooming/bathing. Professionals like them see a plethora of different dogs on a daily basis and have experience working with and calming stressed out or anxious pups. It’s always a good idea, however, to introduce your dog to the facility and groomer before their first appointment. Allowing your dog the time and space to get comfortable in a new environment will definitely help them to feel more comfortable getting bathed and groomed in the future.

Bath time doesn’t have to be a fight with your dog and we hope with these tricks and tips, bathing your pup can become a rewarding and fun experience for the both of you. After all, dogs love to get dirty and it’s nice to know that getting them clean again can be a fast, fun and fearless experience!

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