Washing your pup at home can be a fun bonding experience for you and your dog. However, it can quickly turn into a mess if your pup hates bath times and is constantly trying to jump out of the tub and run away. If you have ever found yourself chasing after a wet and soapy pooch, then these five helpful tips are for you.
Have Everything Nearby
Walking away from the bathtub gives your dog that golden opportunity to make a run for it. Don’t give them that chance! Lay all your bathing items within easy reach, so you can always keep a hand or an eye on your flighty friend.
Don’t forget to prep these items:
- A grooming brush to remove loose hair and massage in shampoo
- Cup or small container to pour water over your dog
- A washcloth to clean your dog’s face
- Soft shammy towel to quickly dry your dog
- Towels to soak up water that splashes out of the tub
- Pet shampoo and conditioner for dogs that is natural, paraben-free, and hypoallergenic
- A friend, just in case you need an extra pair of hands
Bribes for Baths
In the real world, bribing people may be frowned upon but luckily for you bribing your dog is not only perfectly acceptable, but encouraged. Keep your dog’s favorite treats around to reward good bath time behavior. Doing so will ensure that they stick around long enough for you to get the cleaning done. Obviously, they get a treat for obeying commands like “sit” and “stay”, but some other ways to get creative with your bribes include:
- Before the bath, play the “Jump in the Tub” game. Toss treats into the tub, and when your dog jumps in to retrieve it, praise them. After a good belly rub, lead them out of the tub and throw another treat in for them to retrieve. This teaches your dog to associate positivity with being in the tub.
- Spread peanut butter on the side of your tub. Your dog will be too busy licking it off to plot their getaway
- Make bath time playtime by placing your dog’s favorite water-friendly toy in the tub
Keep Them Comfortable
If your feet kept slipping out from under you while you showered, you wouldn’t want to be in there either. If the water became too hot or too cold for your comfort you would jump back and try to adjust it. These could also be the reasons why your dog tries to escape the tub.
- Prevent Slipping – Your pup’s paws are not great at gripping porcelain bathtubs, especially when they’re wet. Non-slip bath mats are an easy solution to give your dog better footing and make them more comfortable in the tub.
- Perfect Temperature – While humans can enjoy a hot, steamy shower, dogs’ skin is far more sensitive. The ideal temperature is lukewarm but of course, different dogs may have slightly different preferences. If you notice your dog panting, the water may be too hot. Likewise, if they’re shivering it could mean the water is too cold.
Assuage Their Fears
If your dog has had a bad experience with baths in the past or has never taken a bath before, then keeping them in the tub may be especially difficult. A fearful dog will resist getting in the tub and be even more determined to escape if they’re forced to.
Calm their fears with the following:
- Slowly acclimatize them to water by playing in sprinklers, taking walks in the rain, or taking them to the beach. Seeing other people and dogs in water will help them see that there’s nothing to fear.
- Take baby steps towards the bath (first, get used to the empty tub, then get comfortable with a wet washcloth, and so on…) and reward your dog at every step.
- Use doggy shampoo that doesn’t irritate their skin and be careful to avoid getting suds in their eyes or water in their ears. Beware. Stinging them once might make them wary of all future baths.
- Remain calm and loving so your dog won’t sense any tension in you.
Take Bath Time Outside
Your dog can’t jump out of the bathtub if there is no tub. If you live somewhere that’s warm, it could be easy to simply wash your dog outside by using the backyard hose. Just check to see that the water is at a comfortable temperature and comes out at a low pressure.
You can tether your dog to a tree or another sturdy structure, so they don’t wander away. Once you’re done washing your dog, just be sure your dog doesn’t roll around in the dirt until they’re completely dry.
Easy, Breezy, Bath Time
Many dog owners get nervous when thinking about bathing their dog at home. However, it can be a breeze as long as you don’t let your dog escape the tub. In summation, here are your five tips for successfully keeping your dog engaged in the bath:
- Have everything nearby
- Give bribes for baths
- Keep them comfortable
- Calm their fears
- Bring bath time outside
Follow these helpful tips and you’ll become your dog’s favorite groomer. Best of luck, you got this!
Dr. Melinda J. Mayfield-Davis, DVM, WCHP-AH, brings over 20 years of experience in veterinary medicine. She is the Technical Services Veterinarian with Innovacyn, Inc., parent company of Vetericyn Animal Wellness. She received her DVM from Oklahoma State University and now resides in Southeast Kansas with her husband, two children, four dogs, and six horses. Prior to working with Innovacyn, Dr. Mayfield owned and operated the Animal Care Center in Columbus, KS.