It’s time for your dog’s bath. Everything is ready to go… except your dog, who is hiding and shaking at the other end of the house. Your dog is not alone in disliking being bathed…. But, with a few adjustments to your bathing routine, you can make the experience more pleasant for both of you.
Firstly, modify or completely change where you bathe your dog and create a positive experience to the new bathing environment. Bathing indoors, in the bath tub, laundry trough or shower, is often more pleasant for your dog. Use a nonslip mat or towel for your dog to stand on to help reduce anxiety from slipping. Have pre-filled buckets of warm water to pour over your dog, rather than using a shower head or faucet that can be very noisy. If your dog is food or treat motivated, feed some super yummy treats or smear some food over a lick mat or on the tiles or bath for your dog to focus on until bath time is over. Due to your dog’s nose being 40 times stronger than ours, use unscented cleaning products and clear the area of highly fragrant items.
If your dog has decided even with a new, positive bathing environment, that bath time is just simply too much to handle, you can aim to change your dog’s emotional response to bathing from one of fear to one of tolerance. Progress slowly through small steps, using lots of super yummy treats:
• Begin by heavily rewarding your dog with super yummy treats just for approaching the bathing area/room/bathtub.
• Once comfortable with this, reward your dog for entering the dry bathing area/bathtub.
• Progress to turning the water on and off quickly, or gently pour some water over your dog’s back while feeding your dog treats.
• Continue to lengthen the time being bathed, while your dog is still happy to eat treats and seems comfortable with the lengthened time and procedure.
If giving your dog a bath is causing anxiety for you both, you may want to recruit the help of an experienced dog groomer. Whatever way works best for you and your dog to get through bath time, keep it frequent enough that the progress you make with making the process more pleasant does not get lost.