After your beloved dog Sparkles rolls in a puddle of mud (or worse), you bring him inside for a good ole rub-a-dub-dub in the tub. Once you get done washing the globs of mud off Sparkles and make him shine (and sparkle) once again, he darts away from you, running all over the yard, in circles, jumping, shaking, and then, of course, he probably rolls around on the ground. Now he is all dirty again and needs another bath. Oh, Sparkles. What in the world are we going to do with you? Why do dogs run after baths and is it possible to stop this crazy behavior? Should we?
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The Root of the Behavior
Sparkles might seem crazy and defiant after bath time, but there’s a lot more to it. Chances are, Sparkles did not want a bath and was perfectly happy with his extra coating of mud. No matter how soothing the soap smells or how calmly you speak to him or even how well-behaved he is, he is most likely not enjoying the bath. When he’s finally freed of the bubbles, he wants to run.
By running, he gets out pent up energy. As you were happily sudsing up Sparkles, he was probably wondering how many more bubbles will there be until I am free? Sparkles is most likely behaving for his owner, but he really wants to leave and chase squirrels. And play fetch. And bury a stick. And dig up the other stick. And go for a walk. His mind might be running a mile a minute, but he’s calmly sitting there letting you hose him down. Once you grant him passage, he does everything he can to get that energy out by running. And later he’ll try to find that stick.
You might love breathing in the clean scent of oatmeal, lavender, chamomile, or whatever fragrance is added to your dog’s shampoo. You might love that when Sparkles sits on your lap, he doesn’t smell like dog, but a field of flowers. However, your dog is not too thrilled about his new scent. When a dog runs around, he is trying to get that human enjoyed scent off him. He’ll hopefully sweat a little and get some of his natural scent back. When that doesn’t work, he’ll roll in the dirt to rid the lavender scent.
If you blow dried your dog, he might still feel wet or have a spot you missed. Running is your dog’s blow dryer, so he’ll sprint around until he feels his ‘do’ is done. He might also rub his ears or body on furniture or grass to dry off.
Encouraging the Behavior
While your clothing might be wet, your fingers pruned, and you have made a mess in your house, your dog’s desire to run after a bath is natural and healthy. As frustrating as it can be to see Sparkles undo all that bath time effort, there is nothing wrong with him taking a sprint around the yard.
If you think he has too much energy, perhaps take him for a walk or play outside before you take him in the tub. Just make sure he calms down a bit before you bathe him, otherwise, you’ll have an overly energetic pup in your tub, and it will make it worse.
If you think your dog has a problem with the scent, ask the vet to recommend unscented shampoo. Even though you’re washing away Sparkles’ scent, at least he won’t smell like he used a fancy lotion.
If he is a dog who tends to roll around in the grass or dirt after he sprints, you could opt to keep him inside, so his running is contained to the house. Just remember he will still have that energy, so he may knock into things or get in your way. And chances are he will make it outside to roll in the dirt at some point. If you notice your dog rubbing his ears long after the bath is over, call the vet. He will do this to dry himself, but if he continues this, he might have a problem with his ear or water stuck in there.
Other Solutions and Considerations
You should check with your vet before lathering up Sparkles with shampoo and make sure you know about any allergies or sensitive skin. He might get a rash or have a reaction that will make him do more than run. And try to aim for an unscented shampoo, too. It will remove one discomfort for your dog from the bathing process. Make sure you close off the yard when he has his initial run, otherwise, you’ll be chasing Sparkles down the street. Once your dog gets out that energy, is dry, and smells like himself again, he’ll most likely stop the sprinting.
Hopefully, Sparkles’ coat stays sparkly often, but keep the shampoo and a towel handy. On the occasion that he does jump in a puddle of mud, you want to be ready. Make sure Sparkles has a safe area to run after bath time and give him plenty of praise for being such a good dog.