How to Train Your Dog to Love Bath Time

Medium
4-8 Weeks
General

Introduction

If you are used to that sound of little claws running across your tile to get far away from you, you just might have a dog who hates bath time. Bathing your dog too often could cause skin irritations, so if your dog hates to be bathed, you might be able to get away with not doing it every week. However, since there are most definitely times your dog is going to need a bath, you might try some techniques to train him to love bath time. Some dogs will jump in, play with the water, even swim, lap at the running water, and not want to get out when bath time is over. However, other dogs fear the running water, are terrified of being dipped in a pool of anything liquid, and will run from you as quickly as they can to get away from the bath. 

Defining Tasks

Dogs who do not particularly enjoy bath time are often reacting out of fear or discomfort. A trick to get your dog to enjoy bath time is to make it comfortable for him and without the noise of running water which could scare him. Warm water will make bath time all the more comfortable, especially for smaller breeds. Not every dog can be bathed in the bathtub because of their size and the inconvenience, but maybe you can consider bathing your dog in your shower instead of outside with a hose and colder running water. Teaching your dog to love a bath will require dedication and commitment from you along with patience and excitement so he knows this is something you think is cool and fun. With your excitement, maybe he'll come around.

Getting Started

To get started teaching your dog to love bath time, you are going to need a place to bathe your dog. Ideally, this would be in your own bathtub or at a do-it-yourself dog grooming center or even in your shower. Try to set yourself up for success by having the bath already drawn with comfortable, warm water. Be sure to have your shampoos and products ready before you bring your dog in so you do not leave your dog unattended. Anytime you have your dog in a bathtub, or even your shower, consider placing a towel on the floor of the tub or shower or use a non-slip bath mat, so your dog does not slip and slide. This will help keep him more comfortable and safe. You also may want to consider having a special bathtime treat that is only available for your dog when he takes a bath.

The Good Preparation Method

Most Recommended
2 Votes
Step
1
Warm water
Start with a half a tub full of water already filled before your dog comes in to bathe.
Step
2
Towel in tub
Set a towel down into the water on the floor of the tub to keep your pup from sliding around. A non-slip mat works well too. If your dog is slipping and sliding around, he could get hurt and will most likely be scared.
Step
3
Use a cup
Try to refrain from running water while your dog is in the tub if you can help it. You can use a cup or a bowl to rinse your pup with the bath water. If your pup is filthy, you may want to rinse with a sprayer but wet him down first with a cup or bowl.
Step
4
Handheld spray
A handheld showerhead may be more comfortable for your dog if you need to use fresh running water. Just be sure to hold it against his skin so he is not being sprayed by the water.
Step
5
Keep it short
Try to keep the bath as short as possible for your dog. If he doesn’t enjoy baths to begin with, he’ll want to be done quickly.
Step
6
Empty tub
Dogs who are skittish around the water may want to get out of the bathtub before you’ve let the water out. If you can, try to let the water out while he is still in the tub. This will also help with fresh water rinsing if you are using a handheld sprayer.
Step
7
Dry
Wrap your pup in a warm towel to hand dry. Brush him out while giving him verbal praise. If he’ll allow, dry him with a blow dryer to keep his body warm. Be cautious not to place the blow dryer too close to his skin.
Step
8
Reward
Getting your dog to love bath time will improve if he knows after each bath he’s getting a very special treat. This can be something you save only for bath time. Use the name of the treat each time he takes a bath so he looks forward to getting that reward after his bath.
Recommend training method?

The Warm Him Up Method

Effective
2 Votes
Step
1
Exercise
Get your dog warmed up a bit with some exercise. Take your dog for a walk or play outside before bath time. You’ll wear him out and he may be warm enough to enjoy getting wet once inside.
Step
2
Comfort in the tub
Fill the tub part way with warm comfortable water. Place a mat or a towel on the bottom of the tub to keep your dog from slipping.
Step
3
Oils
Diffused essential oils can create a relaxing environment.
Step
4
Keep door closed
Keep the bathroom door closed to keep the heat inside and your dog warmer.
Step
5
Toy
Bring a squeaky toy into the tub for your dog to play with while you are bathing him. Keep this toy for bath times only.
Step
6
Verbal praise
Use a soft and gentle tone to let your dog know how proud you are of him for taking a bath.
Step
7
Treat
Keep a special treat in the bathroom to give your pup as soon as he is done and out of the water.
Step
8
Keep him warm
Keep your dog warm once he’s out of the water by using a warmed towel to wrap around him and dry him off.
Recommend training method?

The Shower Together Method

Effective
0 Votes
Step
1
Bathing suit
Don your bathing suit and hop into the shower with your dog. Be prepared with warm running water before you and your dog get inside.
Step
2
Handheld sprayer
Using a handheld shower, rinse your dog with warm water. He may be more comfortable getting used to the water if you start from his rear and slowly move to his neck and head.
Step
3
Lather
Lather him from back to front, ending with his head.
Step
4
Rinse
Rinse from front to back with the handheld sprayer, careful not to get soap into his eyes or water into his ears.
Step
5
Dry
Keep a warm towel handy and dry your dog while he is still the shower. Step aside once the water stops running as he’ll probably want a good shake. He’ll be warmer once out of the shower if he’s been dried off a bit with a towel while still in the warmth of the shower.
Recommend training method?
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Written by Stephanie Plummer

Published: 10/17/2017, edited: 01/08/2021

Success Stories and Training Questions

Training Questions and Answers

Question
Paris
Border Collie
5 Months
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Paris
Border Collie
5 Months

How can I make Paris like taking a bath

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
878 Dog owners recommended

Hello Marisol, First, I suggest introducing water outside. Use a hole or something you can control the flow. Gently have the water running and toss treats a few feet from it. Reward pup for coming close, investigating, and generally being around the water. Don't spray her. Next, increase the water flow gradually as she improves. Reward any good responses and let her choose to come close and investigate on her own to earn food. When pup is completely comfortable with the hose running, use lukewarm cups of water from a bucket outside, gently trickle the water over her while feeding treats at the same time. Start with small amounts, and only increase the amount of water as she gets comfortable. When pup is used to the water, start the same process in the bath, getting her used to the sound of light running water while out and then in the tub using treats for both, then gradually turning up the sound of the water, and finally getting her used to water over her with a cup...I like to bring a few treats to every bath time long-term for my own dogs just so they continue to love bath time, even after they are over fears. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Izzy
chihuahua cross staffy
3 Years
1 found helpful
Question
1 found helpful
Izzy
chihuahua cross staffy
3 Years

Would it help If i got in the bath with Izzy to get over her fear. Also she sort of swims in the river but doesn't like the bath

Thanks, RobynW

Darlene Stott
Darlene Stott
Dog Trainer and Groomer
104 Dog owners recommended

Very cute photo! Getting in the bath may help but Izzy may not like the crowdedness either. Now that the warm weather is here, why not bathe her outside in a baby pool? Because the pool is shallow, it often feels less intimidating to a dog. Purchase a hard pool, not soft, as her claws may go through a soft-bottomed pool. Then, once she is used to the pool and enjoys it over the summer, she can transition to the bath. Also, if Izzy is not that dirty, then use pet wipes to clean her, instead. Good luck!

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Question
Korra
Bichon Frise
1 Year
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Korra
Bichon Frise
1 Year

testing please ignore question developer testing

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Question
Bong-ja
Bullypit
5 Months
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Bong-ja
Bullypit
5 Months

Hard for me to let her bath.

Alisha Smith
Alisha S., Dog Trainer
230 Dog owners recommended

Hello! If your dog is struggling with enjoying bath time, you can start giving your dogs treats while you bathe her. Or if you have help, someone else can give the treats while you give her a bath. The treats act as a nice distraction, and she will also start to enjoy it because she knows she will be getting treats.

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Question
Trompie
Yorkshire Terrier
7 Months
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Trompie
Yorkshire Terrier
7 Months

We had 3 Yorkie girls for 7 years before deciding to get 3 more. Trompie is the second pup we got and he is about 8 months old. He is also the first male dog our family ever had. He and our other male pup (about 3 months old) is extremely difficult during bath time. They absolutely hate bath time and we usually need my dad's help to hold them. They go completely bonkers and this causes nasty battle scars. I don't remember our older 3 girls being this difficult during bath time... even though they don't like it, they tolerate it and are thankful for it afterwards.

What can we do to let our two new boys enjoy bath time more?

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
878 Dog owners recommended

Hello Samantha, I recommend gradually desensitizing them to water, then to being in the tub with the water, and once they are okay with bath making treat rewards a permanent part of bath time in the future too to maintain their acceptable of the water. Outside in a secure area, like a porch or fenced in yard, run your hose on low away from your dog and sprinkle treat between your dog and the water. Do this for 30 minutes a day several days in a row until pup will come close to the water voluntarily. Gradually get the treats close and closer to the water so that pup has to choose to come close to the water and even under the water to reach them. When pup is comfortable with that, use a cup or your hands to lightly put some warm water over their back while you feed treats in your other hand at the same time. In the meantime also spend time sprinkling treats in the bathroom, getting closer and closer to the tub as they relax, the onto the edge of the tub, then in the tub with water off. When pup can handle the warm water outside then practice the cup in the tub, slowly transitioning to the faucet running more as pup relaxes due to the treats and going slow. Gradually increase the water exposure overtime as pup becomes more relaxed - don't rush this, you want to encourage pup near the water but if you suddenly spray them or force it you will break their trust in you around water and it will take even longer. Practice with each dog separately until both are confident around bathtime. Best of luck training, CaitlinCrittenden

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Question
Kleo
German Shepherd chow chow
15 Months
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Kleo
German Shepherd chow chow
15 Months

This is kleo, she loves to play in the tub when no water is in it, or very little after I’ve showered she’ll get In and splash the water around, she’s also is a huge water bug during summer. My issue I’m having is getting her to enjoy being in there with water, an letting me clean her. I give her about 3 baths a year unless she needs one. She doesn’t enjoy me putting water on her or shampoo. I’ve done a just about all of the methods that this site talks about she just seems to not enjoy bathing all together. Open to ideas please and thank you

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
878 Dog owners recommended

Hello Tabitha, Some dogs find the sensation of the bath strange no matter what you do. With that said, I would try brining a scoop of pup's dog food into the bathroom with you, and throughout pup's bath periodically give pup a piece of dog food, or similar sized easy to eat treat. The idea is to make the entire bath period a rewarding experience so that pup is earning treats throughout the bath. Making sure the water is a very neutral temperature and not hot or cold can also help - dogs tend to want it a bit more luke warm than we would want, opposed to hot. You can also experiment with using a cup versus a handheld shower spray nozzle that has a soaking setting, instead of hard pressure. A handheld spray nozzle can help the bath go faster once pup is used to it. I generally recommend giving every bath with dog food, so that all baths become more fun, instead of just using the treats only initially during the training. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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