Does your dog hate baths? Mine too! So much so, my family and I had to come up with some crazy ways to get him clean. I’ll start by telling you about my experience learning how to bathe my dog, and also give you 7 tips and tricks to make your dog’s bath time less of a hassle.
How I Learned to Bathe My Dog
I walked into the house after a long day to see my mom and brother absolutely exhausted, with our 110-pound dog fast asleep on our ottoman. Our bathroom looked as if a pipe had burst with water splattered all over the walls and floor.
Dallas, our very large Lab/Great Pyrenees mix is terrified of clean water. Dirty water is completely fine of course, but as soon as he sees the bottom he panics. We adopted Dallas as a puppy from the pound in 2017. The reason why I tell you this, is we don’t know of any trauma he might have gone through prior to his adoption.
This is crucial to understand with any dog that you haven’t had for their whole life. Patience is key. After a lot of trial and error, we found a bath time routine that seemed to work for us:
On bath days, you will find my mom and brother outside working together to wash our crazy dog. We start by putting a leash on him (a cheap slip on which you can buy here)
which is just enough to make him realize that he isn’t going anywhere. Next, we use the hose and a mild-smelling shampoo to bathe him. By doing this process outside, we do lose a bit of the “clean” we could have gotten bathing him inside. However, he’s much happier this way and feels more comfortable, which is a compromise we were willing to make. Another bonus is that his shakes and zoomies after the bath won’t spray soap and water all over the house.
7 Tips To Bathe Your Dog
(and have a positive experience)
Now our method may not work on your dog, and that’s ok. Here are 5 other tricks you can try to deal with getting our adorable stubborn dogs clean:
Who Said Bribing Wasn’t Okay?
Bring out the expensive treats (that Rachael Ray good stuff) or that new toy with all the squeakers. If you give them a treat or playtime before and after getting a bath, they may start to create a positive association with bath time (otherwise known as positive reinforcement).
Use a Mild Scented Shampoo
Dogs have 300 million olfactory receptors compared to our 6 million, letting them smell even the most subtle scents. Imagine something that has a noticeable smell to us. Now imagine that same smell to a dog whose sense of smell is 50 times stronger than ours. What we think smells amazing, could be painful or just pure overwhelming to our furry friends. Avoid human shampoos and use a mild scented dog shampoo to give your dog one less thing to freak out about.
Make the Surface Non-Slip
Our pups do not do well on slippery surfaces, so make sure that wherever you bathe them has a stable ground and that they won’t lose their footing. Do this regardless if you are bathing inside or outside. Allowing your dog to have a grip can give them back some control of the situation, thus relieving some of the anxiety. If all else fails, you can try getting your pup some doggie boots to make them less likely to slip.
Use an Appropriate Water Temperature
Water temperature is very important for our companion’s sensitive skin. Our warm baths can be scalding to them and cold water can be just as miserable. A good water temperature is between 70 and 80°F which should feel like room temperature to you. If your dog is older or smaller, pay attention to their body language. These dogs are more susceptible to heat and could need cooler water.
Bathing can be a scary time for our furry friends. That’s why making them comfortable is often the easiest way to get them to cooperate. With our dog Dallas, this works every time. My brother is Dallas’s best friend so as my mom bathes him, my brother gives him all the extra love and attention. We even took it to the extreme as to have my brother sit in the bathtub in his swim trunks with Dallas, holding his paw.
Peanut Butter Time
For the dogs that can tolerate an indoor bathing session – they will LOVE this! A silicone adhesive tool you can spread with peanut butter to distract them from the water activities taking place. To get one for your dog, click here.
Make it a Routine.
Your dogs may not be getting baths often enough for them to fully remember. A good time frame is once every month, although the best amount can depend on other factors (activity level, hair length, if they got in something stinky etc.). If you put your dog on a routine, you’ll find that they get acclimated a lot easier and will start to approach bath time with more confidence.
Not a single one of our favorite canine companions is alike. They each have their own quirks and preferences. Try new things and treat their fears with compassion. You will find the key to this struggle is patience and understanding.
Comment below your favorite products or tricks that have helped your dog in having fun during bath time!