Get Dogs to Enjoy Baths: bath time could turn out to be a looked forward to event or a dreaded one for your dogs. It all depends of what you make out of it. Ideally, dogs should get accustomed to bath time when they are puppies. It is much easier to get them used to being in the water and even enjoy it if started at a tender age. However, there are some basic guidelines to follow to ensure that the puppy or dog does not get a negative impression of being put in a tub. Follow these guidelines carefully, and very likely you will get a dog that loves water turning bath-time into a hassle-free event.
Patience is important to get dogs to enjoy baths and therefore you want to proceed slowly and gradually ensuring you dog is comfortable.
Keep in mind that your dog is not refusing to being bathed because he is trying to give you a hard time or is stubborn or stupid. Your dog is simply not comfortable being in the water, restrained and he may be afraid of the process.
Treat your dog as you would a child who is afraid of water or an adult who has a phobia. Be gentle, reassuring and ensure you make the activity fun and upbeat rather than feeling like a chore.
Following are several tips to get dogs to enjoy baths.
1) Don’t Make a Big Deal About Bath Time
Do not announce it or give any clues that it is approaching. Just act normally so he/she is relaxed when the time comes. Dogs can easily sense cues from us that suggest something not pleasurable is coming.
A big mistake many dog owners make is calling dogs to come and then immediately giving them a bath. By doing so, you risk poisoning the cue. In other words, if you call your dog only to give him a bath, chances are, your dog may be reluctant to come to you next time because being called has been associated with the unpleasant activity.
To break this association, it helps calling your dog to you, praising him and giving him several treats as you put a leash on him. Then, you can take him for a brief walk and then finally give him a bath. If your dog is fearful of going inside the tub, try bathing him with a hose outside.
2) Ensure the Water is at an Ideal Temperature
Many times dogs are not afraid of the water itself but its temperature. Too cold water or too hot water can make them startle and panic. It takes just a bath with water too hot or too cold to turn bath time into a undesirable event. Before giving your dog a bath, test the water yourself. Put your hand in the water for a minute or two and ask yourself if you would be comfortable in it. If the water temperature is just right, your dog should barely feel it. Start from the feet very gently drench the coat with the water as you work your way upwards. Avoid strong water jets as these can scare the dog.
3) Add in a Rubber Ducky.
Toss in the tub a couple of your canine’s favorite waterproof toys. Familiar toys in an unfamiliar surrounding may help the dog feel more comfortable. You can even entice him to play with his toys by squeaking them every now and then. Giving your dog every now and then a break can help the task feel less tedious. Dogs who are willing to play are less tense as playing is incompatible with fear.
4) Use the Right Shampoo
Use only dog-approved shampoo (human shampoo is too harsh for a dog’s skin) that is delicate enough and preferably that will not burn if it accidentally goes into your dog’s eyes. There are several tear free shampoos for puppies and dogs on the market nowadays. Dogs dislike having shampoo and water into their eyes and ears and on their face as well. Be very careful. It takes only one scary event of shampoo into the dog’s eyes for bathtime to become a dreaded activity.
5) Use a Slip Proof Surface
Provide a slip-proof surface in the tub. Dogs do not like the sensation of feeling unsteady on their feet. This is why many dogs are afraid of slippery floors. Many dogs are scared of baths because they are scared of losing their footing. This is mostly true if slipping could mean ending under the water. Try to use a slip- free math or slip free bath adhesives. After all, a slip proof bathtub is good safety measure for humans as well.
6) Close the Faucet
Many dogs are bothered by the faucet running. It is loud and a strong water jet seems like a large scary amount of water to them. If your dog startles when you are using a hose, try to use a pitcher to pour water evenly and gently over your dog . Make sure that the poured water doesn’t make too much noise.
7) Rub Your Dog’s Favorite Spots
Massage your dog’s favorite spots, it will make you bond more and turn the bath into a pleasurable event. Talk to your dog with a calm, soothing voice, and let him/her now how proud you are of him/her standing so stoically in the water. Some dog owners have success singing silly songs in the water as they praise and smile and rub their dogs in their favorite spots.
8) Feed Some Favorite Treats
You want your dog to associate bathing with something really good. And what’s the best way than by feeding your dog his favorite treats? Praise him/her and feed him tasty treats. In behavior modification, the process of undoing negative associations by replacing them with positive ones is known as counterconditioning. By using counterconditioning your are helping your dog form positive associations that will hopefully stick in his mind over time.
9) Skip the Hair Dryer
Hair drying can be too scary for most dogs. It is loud, dogs are not used to having air at such force blown onto them and it can be too warm. Many dogs have suffered burns from it. Towels are safer, less traumatic and dogs seem to enjoy the rubbing part. Praise your dog as you rub him with the towel and make it super fun!
10) Find out What Your Dog Loves
Many times dogs like showers with a hose more as it mimics rain and they feel less confined than in a bathtub. However, some dogs may find baths less scary because they feel safer when they are inside the home. Find out whichever your dog prefers and stick with that method.
Oddly enough, there are dogs that seem to just love water but they hate baths or showers. If we think of it carefully though, it could be that something not pleasurable took place at some time during a bath or they never had the opportunity to learn that baths can be fun. Many dogs are scared of novel things. If we try hard to make bath time a fun time, very likely our dogs will not only love water but look forward to it too.