The perils of dog ownership are many, but there’s one thing that almost every owner can agree on—bath time is the worst.
While plenty of dogs enjoy splashing around in the water, it turns out a lot of them hate the idea of adding soap and getting a scrub. If your pooch is the type to tuck tail and run at the sound of a running faucet, or seems to play hide and seek whenever the hose comes out, here are some tips for getting him to give that bath a second chance.
Take a Walk
A walk might not necessarily wear your pup out enough to make him amenable to taking a bath, but it could heat him up enough that hopping in some water would seem like a good idea. Head out for a nice brisk stroll on a warm day to help your dog’s natural desire to cool down make it easier to get him in the tub. Of course, this method only helps on a hot day.
For some dogs the problem with getting a bath is that the tub is too confining; they don’t have any way to escape if they feel threatened. If you haven’t already, you might try giving your dog a bath out in the yard with the hose. Tether him to something sturdy but give him plenty of room to move around. Make a game of it if you can.
Food is often the best motivator when it comes to getting a desired behavior out of your dog. Try feeding your dog treats or even his meal at bath time. Bring the food into the bathroom or the deck when it’s time to hose him down and start feeding him. He’ll associate the food with the bath and start relaxing, if not totally enjoying the occasion.
Adjust the Water Temperature and Pressure
What feels warm to you might not necessarily feel the same to your dog. If your pup seems hesitant about his bath it could be because the water temperature is too hot for his liking. Aim for a lukewarm temp and see if cooling things down might make it a more pleasurable experience. You should also check the water pressure because too much might be making him nervous or even stinging his skin. Use a cup and gently pour the water on him instead.
Sometimes the best method for getting your dog to relax is to make him focus on something else. Use bath time to reinforce his training. While you’re scrubbing him down have your partner or friend stand beside you with treats and give commands. Work on the traditional orders like sit, down and stay and reward him when he listens with small treats. This way he’ll be less worried about what you’re doing with that soap and more concerned with his food.
When it comes to behavior some dogs just need a little extra guidance in the form of another furry friend. Seek out another pup who has no issues when it comes to bath time. Have him sit with your dog and get his bath at the same time. Hopefully your pup will follow his lead and sit still for the experience. This method can be a great tactic when dealing with a nervous puppy.
Ben Kerns is a freelance writer, photographer and outdoor adventurer based out of San Diego. When he’s not busy working you can find him hopping across the world looking for new places to climb big rocks. He’s also fanatically obsessed with funding his outdoor obsessions for as little money as possible.