Most of our loving furry pets aren’t born loving baths. Thankfully, all it takes to change that is a little training and patience from you. If you’ve got a dog, or are planning on introducing one to the family, follow these simple steps to get your pet loving their bath time in no time.
Get them comfortable with handling
The first step in training your dog to enjoy bath time is to make sure they are comfortable with you handling them. Naturally, dogs love pats. But this doesn’t always equate to them being comfortable with you touching and handling them as you do when you wash them. Gently introduce your dog to bath time handling by patting and stroking different parts of their bodies. Pat them on their heads and backs, before moving to their chest, down the legs, and onto the more sensitive areas like ears, footpads, and nails. As you pat them, praise and reward them for remaining calm. It may take some time before you can work your way to the more sensitive areas, but time and patience is the key.
Introduce your dog to bathing equipment
Once your dog has been familiarised with the handling side of things, it’s time to familiarise them with everything you will be using during bath time. Introduce things like towels, buckets, hoses, shampoos, and mats to the dog one at a time. You can even practice standing them in the tub (without any water). Reward with plenty of treats throughout.
Introduce your dog to water by turning the hose or tap on low while they’re nearby. Turn it up too high and it might cause a fright. Get them used to seeing and hearing the running water so they remain calm during bath time. Again, make sure you give plenty of praise and treats.
Now it’s time for a real bath!
After positively introducing your dog to all the bath equipment and the tub, you’re ready to attempt a real bath. Going slow and giving lots of praise and treats is key. It’s ok if things don’t go well the first time. If your dog starts getting upset, remain patient, stop, and try again another day.
- The slower you are and the more praise you give during training, the easier it is for your dog to associate bath time with positive things.
- Try taking your dog for a walk before bath time. When you return home and get them in the tub (if you’re using one) they’re likely to be a bit worn out. Less energy means a calmer dog and less effort for you.
- If your dog is visibly upset in the tub, try bathing them outside instead. Outdoor bath time is great for bigger dogs (no lifting required), and for dogs who try to escape the tub.
- Light water pressure and flow are recommended. Also, check the temperature of the water before use. If your hose has been laying in the sun all day, the water may be too hot. Similarly, if it is a cold day, consider using warmer water in the tub or buckets of warm water and a ladle outside.
- Use a non-slip mat in the tub. Dogs aren’t comfortable unless their footing is stable and secure, so a non-slip mat could make all the difference in ensuring they’re comfortable in the bath.