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

ribbon-method-1
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

ribbon-method-2
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

ribbon-method-3
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
Hazel
Shorkie Tzu
9 Weeks
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Hazel
Shorkie Tzu
9 Weeks

How do I get my pup to like the leash? When she was first born she wasn't introduced to leashes or crates so it does kind of make it hard to train her. Everytime she is on the leash she freaks out.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
1129 Dog owners recommended

Hello Katelyn, Check out the article I have linked below. Most puppies buck or freeze when first introduced to a leash. A method like the drag method can help pup discover that the leash isn't going to hurt her. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-your-puppy-to-accept-leash Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Hazel
Shorkie Tzu
9 Weeks
0 found helpful
Question
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Hazel
Shorkie Tzu
9 Weeks

She gets distracted very easily when trying to train. Does everything to avoid potty training.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
1129 Dog owners recommended

Hello Katelyn, First, know that this is very normal for many puppies that age. I highly recommend taking pup on a leash (otherwise they tend to sit or just wander off and not go potty). Walk pup around slowly to encourage sniffing and the feeling of needing to potty. Try to choose calmer locations to take pup. Expect to be outside with pup 15-20 minutes each time the first month of pup learning this. When you walk pup around slowly on the leash, tell pup to "Go Potty", after pup does go potty, give pup five small treats one at a time as a reward for pottying (hidden previously in your pocket so pup doesn't just stare at the treats the whole time). After pup pees, if pup hasn't pooped in the last 4 hours, then repeat walking pup around for another 15 minutes, while telling pup to "Go Potty" and rewarding with treats again if pup poops too. Go Potty won't help pup go faster at first, but after a couple of weeks of pup seeing that they are rewarded when they go potty when you say Go Potty, pup should begin to learn that command and focus better on finding a spot to go potty when they hear it. The leash to direct pup will probably be important for 4-6 months for pup, even if you have a fenced in yard and pup is holding it well while inside. Pups tend to get distracted and not go if not leashed while young. If pup doesn't go potty after 20 minutes, bring pup back inside, crate pup for thirty minutes, then take pup directly outside again after thirty minutes to try again. Repeat taking pup outside and crating pup every 30 minutes until pup goes potty outside simply because they have to go badly. When you take them you will still take them on leash, tell them to "Go Potty" and give treats if they go, so that pup will learn that going potty outside is a good thing. The most important part of potty training is to prevent accidents inside, so pup can learn to associate your home with cleanliness and become motivated to keep it clean themselves. This is a long-term habit that needs to be formed, meaning that potty training generally takes at least 2-3 months when done well, or longer is accidents aren't prevented well. The occasional accident is going to happen with any puppy, but utilize the crate, a potty schedule, and supervising pup to prevent most accidents. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Korra
Bichon Frise
1 Year
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Korra
Bichon Frise
1 Year

testing please ignore question developer testing

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Question
Kleo
German Shepherd chow chow
15 Months
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Question
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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
1129 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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Question
Trompie
Yorkshire Terrier
7 Months
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Question
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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
1129 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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