Turn Bathtime into Funtime for Your Dog

May 01, 2019     |      Sophie's Circle

dog taking a bathAdopting a new dog into the family can create quite a chaotic experience at bathtime, depending on the personality, training or experience level with bathing, and overall grooming needs of your pet. The good news is dogs can be trained with a loving patient approach and some positive reinforcement tools to overcome some of the fears of bathing, and it all starts with making the bathtime event a more enjoyable process. Here are some tips to get you on the road to turning bathtime blues into bathing cheers.

Location, Location, Location
It matters in real estate, and it matters to your pup! If your dog is afraid to walk on hard floors, he is not likely to enjoy bathing in a tiled bathroom or a porcelain tub. For dogs who like soft grippable flooring, outdoor bathing may prove to be the better location. However, if your dog does not mind the hard flooring or he requires regular grooming throughout the winter months, an indoor grooming station in your bathroom or at the local grooming shop might be best. 

Water Temperature And Grooming Tools
Either indoors or outdoors, be sure your dog is comfortable with the water temperature and your choice of grooming tools during bathtime. Just like with your own relaxing baths, you want your pup to enjoy the experience by using a nice cool water temperature on a hot day and a slightly warm temperature on cold days. For example, a temperature that is too hot might create a fear of the bathtime experience. 

Also, the materials you use to bath your dog can make a difference. A dog that has been punished by being squirted with a hose, for instance, might take a while to adjust to seeing a hose as a friendly device. In that case, a water pitcher like you fill for a newborn child might be a better tool at first. Water-loving dogs, on the other hand, may get excited about taking a bath in a kiddie pool that was filled just for them! 

Regarding the choice of shampoo, use only shampoo formulas that are made for dogs, and try to stick with those that will not dry out your dog's coat resulting your dog's need to scratch often. Scented shampoos can be lovely for humans, though they may be overpowering for a dog's sensitive nose. It is always a good idea to check with your veteranarian about the type of shampoo to buy to protect your dog's coat while removing the dirt. Discover some of the top recommended dog shampoos on the Dog Digest's website.

Offer Treats For Standing Still
"Treats" for dogs when standing nicely for bathtime can vary from edible delights to an abundance of praise and pets. Edible treats do not have to be purchased, however. Your dog will love a piece of his kibble just as much as a separately bought or made treat. Some dogs require nothing more than verbal praise and positive body language for reinforcing the good behavior. This is a great time to learn more about what works best for your dog and how he learns.

Everyone Loves A Good Massage! 
One thing that is sure to connect good feelings about bathtime for your dog is a great massage! Working in the shampoo, toweling your pup dry, and brushing your dog should feel nice when you do not have hands to grip a back scratching device. Plus, he knows he has the bonus of your undivided attention during bathtime. So, once you find the right location, grooming tools and training style that works for your furry friend, the rest should be fun!

Of course, like humans, dogs will remember bad experiences as well. Commonly made mistakes like letting the soap get too close to his eyes, using a shampoo that irritates his skin, putting the hose nozzle on too harsh a setting, or holding the hose too close to his skin on a concentrated setting can create fear and dread of the "B" word. Luckily, these are easy errors to avoid resulting in your pooch being excited about his hygene routine inestead!

Outdoor Game Time
Your dog may have a passion for food and treats, but the thing he loves most is spending quality time with his humans. Using the drying time after his bath to take him for a walk, play a game of fetch, or run through some training lessons is a wonderful way to bond with your dog. Getting that energy out while learning to work together on a task will benefit both you and your pup. So, enjoy this time together. You have both earned it!

Dogs truly can become your best friends with a little extra time and patience. With all new friendships, there can be a few challenges. One of these many dogs share is a bathtime phobia. However, with these tips, we hope you and your new best friend will overcome whatever is causing the anxiety and hopefully have a lot of fun along the way!