Bath time for many pups can be a very scary event – not every dog likes getting in the water! This can be difficult for pup owners, especially if your dog needs more baths than others. Instead of dealing with toddler-like temper tantrums and having to chase your dog around the house, why not try some of these tips for making bath time easier and more fun? The key is to get your dog used to taking a bath… and possibly even enjoying it, believe it or not! Read on to learn more:
Make the bathroom a more fun space.
Integrate playtime and bath time, and you’ll find that your pup becomes less afraid of the bath tub! Bring favorite toys and items into the bathroom right before it’s time for the dreaded bath. Try playing with your dog first. This may take some patience on your end, but eventually you’ll find that the bathroom becomes less terrifying when your dog feels comfortable there. (Bonus tip: Some dogs enjoy having toys in the bath tub to distract them during the bathing process. That won’t work for every dog, but it’s definitely worth a shot!)
Make sure you’re being careful!
This is a very important tip, so don’t skip over it! There are several reasons your pup might hate bath time, and many of them can be easily corrected. Water temperature is a big aspect of this, as dogs are more sensitive to temps than we are. What seems warm to you could be freezing or scalding hot to your dog! Other reasons your dog might hate bath time – you’re getting soap in his/her eyes, you’re filling the tub with too much water and it’s scaring him/her, or the sound of running water is spooking your pup! These are all easy fixes – all it takes is a little mindfulness on the owner’s part. (Bonus tip: There are tear free shampoos and washes available for dogs as well! This could really come in handy if your pup has trouble with being shampooed).
Bring treats along, too.
As pretty much all dogs are food-oriented to some degree, bringing treats into the tub can be a great idea for making the process easier. Use training treats to help your pup become comfortable and quit associating your tub with “Danger alert!” feelings. (Bonus tip: Use a very rare and special treat your dog loves and only give it to them during bath time – this could be a treat that is a little pricier, a homemade treat, or something with a favorite ingredient. Your dog will get the picture eventually!)
Put in a non-slip surface for your dog.
Many dog owners could benefit from this advice – especially owners of tiny dogs who can hardly stand their ground on a soapy floor while being scrubbed! A non-slip surface is a must for bathing your dog because it makes them feel comfortable and it keeps them safe. You can use a towel for this if you don’t have a rubber mat in your tub. Many pet stores actually have mats available for purchase just for your dogs, though. (Bonus tip: If your dog struggles to stand in your tub without a non-slip surface, try using a plastic children’s pool for bathing your pup instead. You can use these pools outside so your pup can get some fresh air at the same time).
Use a water sprayer attachment.
Using your shower head or a pet sprayer attachment can make the bathing process easier, simpler, and much more comfortable for your dog. Many owners fill cups of water and dump them over their pup’s head – this can be a little intimidating, especially if you have a smaller dog. Imagine how overwhelmed they must feel with all that water raining down on them! A shower head can make the water flower a little easier on the dog and is actually more efficient as rinsing away residue overall. (Bonus tip: Find a shower head or sprayer attachment with different speeds and settings, then experiment until you find one your dog is more comfortable with).
Your attitude matters.
Dogs are very aware of the moods of their owner – so if you’re grumpy and annoyed over giving your dog a bath, they’ll probably be just as upset as you! Being patient, kind, and receptive to your dog’s personality and feelings is important when teaching your dog that baths are NOT scary. Don’t yell, raise your voice, or snap at your dog during this process – we understand what baths are all about, but your dog doesn’t know or care about getting clean. Be sure to praise your dog with statements they are familiar with (“Good Boy!” or “Very good job!”). When they see you are pleased with them (and of course giving them treats, see tip #3), then they will have an easier time dealing with bath time. (Bonus tip: Try taking a nice walk to relax both you and your pup before bath time. Exercise makes you both healthier and it might make your pup more willing to step into the water).
Consider your shampoo.
You may want to try different shampoos before settling one your dog likes. We mentioned that there are tear-free shampoos for dogs, but the variety of different soaps can actually be overwhelming. There are shampoos specifically for certain breeds/colors, anti-itch and medicated washes, many different fragrances, and shampoos that are free of certain ingredients your dog might be opposed to. Finding a shampoo that does the job is very important and sometimes takes a little trial and error. (Bonus tip: There are other doggy grooming products besides shampoos – some dogs even need a little conditioner for their hair! Let’s not forget the lotions, sprays, and many grooming tools like brushes and combs. Find what makes your dog happy and healthy, but don’t overdo it! A happy medium for your pup is best).