Bath time is a stressful affair for most dogs and dog owners alike. Some dogs dislike water, and most are uncomfortable being confined in a space where they are prodded at and scrubbed down. Owners with stressed-out dogs have just as hard a time trying to calm their dog while doing the very thing it hates. If this is to be a monthly or even weekly occurrence, it is advisable for the sake of both you and your pup to seek ways to make bath time less stressful, and it is definitely possible!
Preparing for the bath is very important before you bring your dog in. Make sure all your supplies are within reach; you don’t want to be caught in the situation of having to go out or get up to take something, allowing your pup the opportunity to escape mid-bath. Apart from the basic supplies of shampoo and a towel, it is also recommended to place a non-slip mat in the bathtub or on the floor where your dog will be standing. This will give your pup more grip and help it feel more secure.
A quick brush down will do wonders in making bath time smooth-sailing. Brushing out all the tangles and dirt first will reduce the amount of time you’ll have to do that while your dog is wet and shivering. Dogs that find this calming will also benefit from this before stepping into the shower.
Giving your dog some exercise before the bath is a great way to get the energy out first. After a good workout, your pup might look forward to being cooled down by a douse of water. Your dog will also be calmer and more tired out, which means less resistance during bath time. After the bath, reward your pup with a fun game such as a quick round of tug-o-war to reinforce the positive association with bath time.
If your dog is food motivated or has a special toy it likes, you may reward it with a ‘bath-time’ treat during and after the bath. Use the treat for when your pup sits well and listens to you. If your dog needs a distraction during bath time, give it a favourite bath-only toy, or you can even smear some peanut butter on the wall or side of the bathtub. This tactic is great to keep your dog busy while you clean it up, and gives it something to look forward to during the bath.
Very importantly, it is essential that you are taking the proper measures when bathing your pup. One bad experience will lead to a negative association with bath time, and it is harder to reverse the effects of this after.