While many dog breeds love swimming, paddling and generally playing in water given the slightest opportunity, some dogs appear to have an almost phobic dislike about getting their paws-or any other part of themselves-wet, and this can of course make the times when they really have to be bathed stressful for both of you.
Additionally, the fact that your dog is likely to be struggling or fighting all the way with you can mean that the people doing the bathing become anxious and irritated too, which can make the whole problem worse and serve to further reinforce your dog’s dislike of the whole process.
There are a huge range of reasons behind why some dogs hate water, such as a prior bad experience, disliking the sensation on their skin, and feeling insecure or out of control. Even some dogs that love to swim on their own terms can sometimes have a sincere dislike of being bathed too, and so some of these tips and tricks may prove useful for dogs and owners of all sorts when your pooch begins to get a little pongy!
In this article, we will look at some of the steps that you can take to minimise the stress of bathing a dog that dislikes water, and hopefully make things somewhat easier in the future. Read on to learn more.
First things first, we all know how well dogs can pick up on our moods and emotions, and if you are dreading bath day and are expecting a lot of hassle when you do it, your dog will know it right away!
Plan for your dog’s bath by creating a calm environment with everything set up and ready to go, and ensuring that you keep your own emotions in check to avoid causing more problems!
Beginning the process by having to physically wrestle your dog into the bath itself can set the tone for the entire process, so rather than dragging or pushing your dog into the bath, try to use commands to get them to step into the tub (or up to the tub) of their own volition, and try not to turn things into a physical test of strength.
Additionally, it is all too easy to reinforce your dog’s fears by giving them too much credence, and being overly sympathetic in an attempt to reassure your dog that nothing is amiss. This can relay the idea that there really is something to fear in your dog’s mind, so keep calm and business-like rather than being overly coaxing or sympathetic.
One of the main reasons behind bath time fear in dogs is insecurity-both emotionally and physically. If your dog feels off balance or as if they are not secure, they will be uncomfortable and fight against you, so try to use a shallow tub with a non-slip surface in it, and make sure that the water level comes no higher than the bottom of your dog’s stomach.
Water that is too hot or too cold will make things a lot worse, so take as much time as you need before you get your dog ensuring that the water is just the right temperature, and not too hot or too cold.
Getting shampoo in one’s eyes or having water running down the face and so, obstructing breathing is of course uncomfortable and can be painful and frightening for both people and dogs alike. Ensure that you use a no-tears shampoo and take special care to wash your dog’s face gently, without throwing or running water over their heads.
Securing your dog properly so that they cannot move around too much makes bathing them much easier, even for cooperative dogs, and this is particularly important for dogs that are apt to struggle or bolt! Make sure that your dog cannot turn around, escape or get out, but also ensure that they are not trussed up and uncomfortable either.
Bathing a dog is much easier if you have someone to help you, and means that one person can do the washing while the other controls the dog and tries to divert their attention from what is going on. Your helper should be someone that your dog knows and is comfortable with, otherwise this may add another element of stress to the whole thing.
If you can convince your dog that bath time is something fun and entertaining, this will soon divert your dog’s attention from the rest of the process, and may even turn into something that they actively like doing. Chew toys, bath toys and lots of positive attention can all help to change your dog’s mind about bath time and what it means.
Finally, use treats, praise and other positive things throughout the process too, and to try to convince your dog to build up positive associations with bath time, and make