Then you remember the way he smelled after coming in from the rain yesterday.
You sigh. It’s time.
You go to the bathroom and start preparing the necessities – shampoo, conditioner, towels, everything. You plug the tub and start the water running. And then you walk back to the living room. Your dog is still chewing his toy, and looks up at you as you enter. Is it just you, or is his tail wagging a little more slowly now? Is that a suspicious glint in his eye?
You fetch the dog treats and shake the bag. He’s up and at your side in a split second, begging the best he can. With a slightly evil grin, you continue shaking the bag and talking to him as you walk to the bathroom. You’re almost there!
Just a little further…
You give him the treat and slam the door shut. There’s no escape now!
For the next half hour, you are locked in battle. Keep him in the tub, rub him all over with the shampoo and conditioner, catch him as he tries to escape, “No, don’t shake!” By the end, you, your dog, and the bathroom are soaking wet. And certainly no one is happy.
If you are a dog owner, you are most likely intimately familiar with this ritual. Unpleasant as it is, you press forward, because you know that aside from helping him or her smell better, bathing is essential to maintaining your dog’s health. According to vets from Vancouver animal hospitals and all over the country, it keeps their coat soft and their skin healthy, and gets rid of dirt and parasites.
Fortunately, bath time doesn’t have to be a time of dread for you or your dog. You can train your dog to enjoy his or her baths as much as you do your own.
- Ideally, bath time training should start young, as soon as you bring them home. But if your dog is already an adult, there’s still hope. You can teach an old dog new tricks – it just might be a little harder.
- Show your dog that the bathroom is a place for playtime. At first, give them time to be in the bathroom and get used to this environment. Play with them in the bathroom, outside the tub. Then do it in the tub, without water. When you add water, give your dog time to play in it and gain a positive association with being wet. Just like with bathing children, toys can make bath time a lot easier.
- Be sure to use only slightly warm water, the same temperature you would use for a baby. On a similar note, turn up the thermostat before bath time so the bathroom air will be nice and warm after your dog gets out. You don’t like cold air, and neither does your dog!
- Put down a nonslip mat so your dog doesn’t have to be slipping and sliding everywhere in the tub. Giving them a grippy surface to stand on them helps them be more comfortable and less scared.
- Before getting wet, put cotton in the dog’s ears to prevent water from getting in. Have you ever watched your dog drag his ears on the ground after bath time? Dogs do this for a reason – their ears get wet and uncomfortable during baths, and dragging them is how they attempt to get them dry again.
- Use only dog-specific shampoo and conditioner. Believe it or not, products made for humans have a different pH, which can end up irritating canine skin. Additionally, you may have to experiment with scents, as dogs have preferences just like humans
- Instead of making bath time playtime, you can also turn it into a spa-like environment for your dog to relax in. Turn on some soft, calming music and give your dog a gentle massage along their spine. As you practice, you will be able to recognize and address their tight spots. However, make sure to also do it quickly. Baths can only be relaxing for so long.
- Finally, use treats liberally for positive reinforcement during and after the bathing experience. However, only give treats for good behavior. Speak to them in soft, happy tones, and whatever happens, stay calm.
You can turn bath time into a pleasant experience. With regular baths, you can have a cleaner dog, a better relationship, and fewer trips to the vet. Maybe you’ll even start to look forward to bath time!
Victoria Ramos studied business and now blogs about developments in the field, as well as her other interests. She loves shopping, socializing, writing, and her dogs Laurel and Hearty. She gets a lot of advice from Central Animal Emergency Clinic.