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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.
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.
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
Start with a half a tub full of water already filled before your dog comes in to bathe.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The Warm Him Up Method
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.
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.
Diffused essential oils can create a relaxing environment.
Keep door closed
Keep the bathroom door closed to keep the heat inside and your dog warmer.
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.
Use a soft and gentle tone to let your dog know how proud you are of him for taking a bath.
Keep a special treat in the bathroom to give your pup as soon as he is done and out of the water.
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.
The Shower Together Method
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.
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.
Lather him from back to front, ending with his head.
Rinse from front to back with the handheld sprayer, careful not to get soap into his eyes or water into his ears.
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.
By Stephanie Plummer
Published: 10/17/2017, edited: 01/08/2021
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