Even if your dog loves getting wet, bath time can be more than a tad bit stressful. So here's 10 tips to make bath time less stressful for you and your dog.
1. Make it as comfortable & calm for your dog as possible
- Lukewarm water - not cold or hot. Go light on the hot water! For us humans, warm water starts around 38°C. For dogs, this is too hot and can be super uncomfortable and cause our furry friends heart rate to rise.
- Baths and showers can be slippery making your dog feel uneasy. Try using a non-slip mat or apply non-slip stickers to the base of the bath or shower. If you don’t have either of these you can also use a bath towel. It’ll soak up the water and remain at the bottom of the tub. Simple!
2. Be prepared
- Organise your dog bath and grooming supplies so they are easily on hand. If you’re stressed trying to find things, your dog will pick up on that.
- Checklist: shampoo, conditioner (if needed), treats, brush or comb, small cup for pouring water, towels and your dog drying robe
3. Use the right shampoo and conditioner
- Don’t get it mixed up with yours! I repeat. Do not use human shampoo and conditioner on your dog. Your dog's skin is very different and extremely sensitive in comparison to yours. We can’t stress this enough. Please ensure your are using dog-specific products.
- If you think your dog has sensitive skin, please see your vet. Only use medicated shampoo if you’ve been directed by your vet as these can cause further irritation if used incorrectly.
4. Turn bath time into a good time
- You want your dog to associate bath time with their favourite things so give them *plenty* of praise and treats. That way they’ll be excited rather than hesitant or resistant to bath time.
- Along the same lines, try introducing playtime afterwards so there is a post-bath reward. If your dog isn’t completely dry, this could get messy so make sure they’ve got their dog drying robe on for this!
- Another trick (which may not be for everyone) is to feed your dog in the bathtub or where you bathe your dog. Because who’s dog doesn’t like dinner?
5. Dog buddy trick
- Do you have a dog friend that loves bath time? Try bringing them along to encourage your stressed-out pup that bathtime can be fun-time and isn’t so scary after all. Because life's better with friends
6. Distract them
- Take their mind off the task at hand and give them something else to focus on. This is where a slow feeder with a suction cup backing can come in handy. Fill with peanut butter (xylitol-free of course) and stick on the wall at the end of the bath. Don’t have one of those? Simply smear the peanut butter straight onto the wall or shower screen. That should do the trick!
7. Tire them out first
- Dealing with an overly energetic dog? Then try tiring them out with a heap of exercise beforehand. Every bit will help.
8. Bathe your dog less frequently
- How often should I wash my dog, you ask? Probably less frequently than you think. Most people don’t realise that you can easily over-wash your dog, which can cause dull, dry, stinky coats and poor skin health. As every dog is different, have a chat with your vet for guidance if you're unsure.
9. Desensitisation / Counterconditioning Training
- If your dog puts the brakes on before even getting into the bathroom you’re going to need to start fresh with some Desensitisation or Counterconditioning Training. It’s a slow process of heavily rewarding small steps of achievement ie. walking into the bathroom, entering a dry tub, being comfortable with the water on and so on. We highly recommend getting in contact with a positive-reinforcement trainer or vet behaviourist for advice.
10. Try a groomer
- Sometimes it's just better to leave it to the professionals.
Before you know it, bath time will be a cinch and your dog will love it just as much as this guy.
Does your dog love her bath or hate it? Tell us your dog bath stories in the comments!