It’s no secret that some dogs consider baths as their #1 enemy. And for pet owners, it spells an earful of whining, scratching, and escape attempts. It’s no fun, so knowing how to make your dog like baths will surely be a heaven-sent hack.
The key here is understanding why your dog hates baths in the first place. Take note that each dog is different and so is its response to grooming. By understanding what triggers your pet’s dislike of bathing, you can apply the proper solution to the problem.
In this post, I will discuss the common reasons why dogs hate baths and what you can do about it.
Why do dog hate baths?
There’s always an explanation behind your dog’s fears. If bathing seems to be your canine’s kryptonite, the following might be the reasons why:
🐶Your dog hates bathing noises.
The most common reason why dogs hate baths is the unusual sounds that it comes with. The splash of the water, the echo on your bathroom, the dryer, and so on – all of it can spook a nervous canine.
Moreover, your dog will hate baths if you fail to desensitize it to these sounds. Take note that such reluctance for baths will get worse if you force your dog into it.
Overall, if it’s your dog’s first time to have a bath, expect the pooch to be scared. After all, it’s a new experience, which will take dogs time to get used to.
🐶You’re doing it wrong.
Sometimes, it’s not just about the water. Many dog owners are guilty of poor handling, which makes their dogs loathe bath time.
For example, rubbing vigorously, getting dog shampoo in its eye, or being rough on handling the canine will also lead to bad associations. Over time, your dog will soon attach the idea of bathing with discomfort and fear.
🐶Your dog has a past trauma.
Trauma is very common among rescued dogs. If you recently adopted a dog and it hates baths, there’s a possibility that the canine has a bad experience with its previous owners. It’s possible that the former owners hit the dog whenever it declines to go to the bathroom.
It’s important that bathing can bring back scary memories to your dog. It can trigger anxiety, which manifests through shivering and excessive yawning.
🐶You’re using an irritating shampoo.
If you recently switched to new dog shampoo and your dog started to dislike baths, the product might be the reason why. Your furry baby probably finds the scent overwhelming or it’s not soothing for their skin.
Take note that each dog is different so is its reaction to various grooming products. So if you have a sensitive doggo, I suggest using scent-free and tearless shampoo products.
🐶Your dog hates being restrained.
Dogs that aren’t used to being handled and restrained will loathe bath times. It’s because they no longer have control over their movements and choice. Overall, this can be very upsetting for a canine.
Take note that your method of restraining the canine can make grooming stressful. Holding your dog too tight, shouting, or dragging your pet are no-nos because it makes the experience traumatic.
How to make your dog like baths?
No matter how much your dog hates baths, there are many ways to turn the situation around. Patience, proper method, and desensitization are key steps to turn your bath-hating doggo into a more cooperative canine in the bathroom.
Here are a few methods that pet owners have tried and tested on their dogs:
1. Start your dog early!
The best way to make your dog like baths is to start it early with the routine. Getting your dog used to bathing as early as possible will save you from difficult training later on.
Most puppies can be bathed starting at 8 weeks old, while small breeds are best bathed a few months later. This is to prevent the risk of hypothermia since very young pups can’t regulate their body temperatures yet.
Take note that you don’t really have to start with a full bath. The simple manner of wiping your dog’s body with a moist cloth or brushing its coat are good starting points. Overall, it will get your pet used to the sensation of grooming and being exposed to water.
2. Familiarize your dog with the bathroom.
One reason why dogs hate baths is the unfamiliar feeling of being inside your bathroom or wherever you plan to bathe them. To prevent this, you should let your dog sniff around and get accustomed to the bathing area.
Aside from that, you should let your doggo sniff and explore your grooming tools. This way, your pet won’t find such tools threatening.
Moreover, desensitization is necessary to make your dog like bathing. For example, you should acclimate your dog to the sound of the water coming out of the shower.
You can do this by turning the shower on while your dog is around and giving treats at the same time. Through this, you can create a positive association with the sound.
3. Drain your dog’s excess energy first
If you have a large and energetic dog, it will be a big help to drain its excess energy first. You can take your pet on a short walk around the neighborhood or keep it busy with a playtime session.
This way, your dog won’t have the extra energy to fight back while having a bath. It will make the pooch more cooperative and less likely to leap or escape your hold.
Still, you should know that a dog’s level of exercise must match its size and needs. For example, a Golden Retriever will require more exercise while a Pug will need very little physical exertion.
4. Start with basic grooming
Take note that you don’t really have to subject your dog to a full bath right away. If it doesn’t like bathing, you can try other means of grooming.
For example, you can try applying dry shampoo in the meantime if the canine’s coat isn’t too soiled. You can also try brushing or wiping your dog’s body with a clean towel.
These initial grooming steps will help your dog get used to being restrained and handled. It will help a lot later on once you need to perform a full bath.
5. Shower with food rewards
Canines are food-driven beings, so food treats will go a long way in making them like bath time. So while you’re bathing your dog, you can give it a few treats along the way.
Also, this method will let your dog form a positive association with bathing. Just make sure that you don’t overindulge your pet as excessive treats will add up to its weight.
Moreover, you should spread the treats throughout the bathing session. This way, you can use it as a distraction and your dog will also have a motivation to stay within the bathroom.
6. Keep calm
It’s also important to keep your composure while bathing your dog. Shouting and using violence won’t help, worse, it will make your dog hate baths even more.
Think of dogs as toddlers. They don’t like being held still for long periods and they will always try to do things their way. Being patient during these situations will pay off, especially, if you’re just starting to introduce your dog to bathing.
Remember that dogs take cues from our behavior. If you’re angry and tensed, your pet will also feel the same way while bathing.
7. Keep baths short
Sometimes, dogs hate bath times because it stretches for too long. So to prevent your pet from getting impatient, you should keep grooming short.
Baths should be done as fast as possible without compromising the process of how it’s done. Overall, your dog’s bath shouldn’t be longer than 15 minutes. Most dogs will start to become grumpy beyond this timeline.
8. Ask advice from a professional groomer
If you’re a first-time dog owner, you shouldn’t hesitate to ask for advice from your pet’s professional groomer. Groomers who truly care for pets will not hesitate to offer advice to pet owners, especially when it comes to home grooming.
The groomer can help teach a few hacks on how you can make your dog like baths. Since they have handled countless dogs, professional groomers are the best persons to ask about this matter.
Overall, if you’re unsure about grooming, always ask a professional. You can also let a professional groomer give your dog its first bath and ask your questions right after.
9. Consider using calming aids or sedatives
If your dog throws a fit every time you try to give it a bath, you can consult its veterinarian for the potential use of calming aids or sedatives.
Take note calming aids and sedatives are two different things. Calming aids can be bought over-the-counter and have mild effects. Some examples are calming treats, artificial pheromones, and so on.
Meanwhile, sedatives have a much stronger effect. Also, it should be prescribed by a veterinarian together with a dosage that matches your dog’s size and overall health.
Whether you’re using calming aids or sedatives, consulting the vet first is always the best move. Also, you should use these solutions sparingly as your canine may experience adverse reactions.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Can you train your dog to like baths?
A: It’s possible to train your dog to like baths by making it an enjoyable experience. Positive association is the key if you want your doggo to be cooperative and calm while bathing. Also, you’ll see better results if you train your dog as early as possible. Take note that it’s harder to train a large and adult canine, so time is of the essence.
Q: Can a bath traumatize a puppy?
A: Baths can be traumatizing to dogs, regardless of age. This will happen if your canine is subjected to harsh bathing methods. Dragging your dog, gripping its body too hard, and rushing are just some of the reasons why many pups grow scared of baths. It’s something that pet owners should avoid if they want their dogs to like grooming.
Q: Do dogs really need baths?
A: Canines need regular baths, especially if they are an indoor type. This is to keep their coats clean and smelling fresh, not to mention it also maintains their skin health. Overall, dogs only need baths once a month. Other breeds with short coats can go without baths for up to 3 months.
Q: Why do dogs hate water?
A: Many dogs hate water because it’s an unfamiliar place. It also gives an unfamiliar feeling, especially for canines who haven’t been in water or are yet to learn how to swim. Still, many dog breeds are born to gravitate towards water. Some of these breeds are American Water Spaniel, Golden Retriever, English Setter, and German Shepherd.
Q: Do dogs like cold or warm baths?
A: In general, groomers recommend using warm or room temperature water when bathing your dog. It’s because many breeds are prone to hypothermia, especially small ones. Also, cold water is a no-no during winter for obvious reasons. So if you’re unsure what water temperature to use, stick to room temperature or anything that’s not too warm.
Q: Do dogs get tired after having a bath?
A: Dogs can get sleepy and tired after a bath. It’s because your dog will shake its body multiple times, not to mention that bathing can be pretty stressful. Overall, there’s nothing to worry about if your dog sleeps right after a bath. It’s usually a sign of relief, especially during a hot day or if your dog hasn’t had a bath for months.
Knowing how to make your dog like baths will come in handy as your pet grows older. The key here is starting your canine with bathing as early as possible. Most of all, you should bathe your dog properly and don’t forget to provide treats to enforce positive association.
When in doubt, you should never hesitate to consult a professional groomer and other dog owners you know.