Dog bath time is not an occasion loved by all dogs. After all, it isn’t natural for them. Their ancestors, the wolves, never set aside time for washing, relaxing in a scented bubble bath, so why should modern dogs?
It’s us humans who want our dogs clean. They live in our houses, lie on our chairs and couches, so of course, we want clean and tidy doggies that smell good. It’s a pity the dogs don’t understand, but there’s a lot you can do to make dog bath time a more positive and less scary experience for them.
For a start, get the best dog shampoo you can. Your pet deserves that at least. It doesn’t have to smell good; it just needs to be kind to your dog’s skin. Whatever you do, don’t use the same shampoo you use for yourself and the rest of the family. Use proper dog shampoo!
Are YOU the reason your dog gets uptight at bath time?
Your dog will react to your body language. In fact, you’ll be surprised just how much your dog understands the subtle signals you give out, and mostly, you don’t know you are doing it. If you have the attitude that bath time for your dog is going to be a struggle, your dog could be reading those subtle communications you give out, and could be anticipating an awful ordeal without knowing what it exactly is. She just knows that things are going badly and it’s going to be a difficult time, for that’s the message you relayed to her unconsciously.
There’s a much better way. Approach dog bath time calmly, but positively. Make sure your energy is saying, this is easy, it will be fun and we’re going to do it together. Your dog won’t have any idea what is going to happen, but they will know that something positive is about to happen, and they will view it in an expectant and positive light.
You may have doubts about this whole positive approach thing working. It does seem a bit airy fairy, in a way, but trust me – your dog is constantly picking up little subtle signals from you. They are mainly found in the way you talk, the tone of your voice, the swing and sway of your body, and much more. Your dog is constantly looking for positive signals and will always react positively when she detects them, and of course, the opposite is also true.
This, probably more than any other thing, is mainly why we call them ‘man’s best friend’ – and woman’s too of course. They always seem to be in tune with us. They seem to anticipate our moods, and will readily comfort us if we are feeling down. When you inwardly sigh heavily as you prepare for dog bath time, your dog will pick up the vibes and instantly know something not very good is about to happen. It’s a kind of self-fulfilling prophesy, in a way. So, approach bath time in a positive and happy way, and your dog will do so too!
Go one step further and make dog bath time fun!
It doesn’t have to be a chore. Bath time should be fun for both you and your dog. Yes, she needs to get clean, but that can simply be part of the fun. I wouldn’t recommend making it an outrageous game with water splashing everywhere, but it can still be a fun and pleasant time for your dog, and for you too.
Take your time getting things ready. Involve your pet as much as possible, by speaking to her and telling her what you are doing. She may not understand exactly what you are saying, but she’ll understand that you are both having fun, and that’s the most important thing. Make her the center of attention. Make her feel special, and make the occasion special too. Soon she will love her bath time and even look forward to it.
There are many benefits that come from taking this approach. The most important is that your dog does not find bath time a stressful event. Secondly, and also very important, neither do you. Thirdly, you both begin to enjoy dog bath times and look forward to it eagerly. At that point you have achieved your aim, for your dog loves her bath time.
Preparing the bath…
It is important that you get the bath temperature right for your dog. What you may think is nice and warm could actually be too hot for your dog, which could cause your pet a lot of stress. Keep the temperature lukewarm, a bit cooler than you would personally bathe in, but don’t make it cold. Observe your dog carefully in the beginning of your regular bath times. If she stands rigidly in the bath, something isn’t right. Your dog should be fully relaxed.
A good idea is to let your dog, especially is he is a puppy, explore the bath tub before you put any water in it. Exploring the dry tub will let her know there isn’t anything scary about the tub, and when you add the water it will all make more sense to her. Dogs love to explore. In fact, they need to explore, so make sure she does before the bath tub is filled with water.
It is always a good idea to introduce your dog to a bath tub while she is still a puppy, if possible. The younger the better, in fact. Go slowly with a puppy and let things happen gradually. That will make the whole process a lot less scary and much more fun. Don’t get stressed out if she splashes and makes a bit of a mess. You can discourage her gently and she will soon find her own pace.
If your dog gets really upset when she is close to the bath tub, then try making it a habit to feed her close to it. She will soon see the bath tub as an area where good things happen. Make a fuss over her when she is close to the bath tub. You should be trying to put the tub in a positive light, taking the scary bits out of it.
Try taking your dog for a long walk before bath time
If you are still struggling to make dog bath time a fun event, try taking your dog out for a lengthy walk just before it’s time for a bath. When your dog is hot and tired, she will appreciate a cool to lukewarm bath a lot more, and might even see it as a positive thing to look forward to next time.
Your dog will also have less energy left to fight you over bath time, and will likely just give in and let it happen. This will reduce the stress for both of you and make the occasion a much more enjoyable one. Always make dog bath time a relaxed and peaceful time. Never have bath time when you are in a hurry. Your dog will sense the urgency and get stressed up over it. Slow and gentle works best – every time.
And remember, always use a properly formulated, dedicated dog shampoo at all dog bath times!