Let’s talk dog baths, but not just any dog, a dog that really struggles with being bathed, even becomes aggressive or panicky. Maybe you got a new puppy and want to condition your new puppy to like baths. These tips will make a huge difference.
Use a tub and pre fill 1/3rd or halfway w/ warm water
Get a pitcher or large container to wet the dog down and for rinsing so you don’t turn the faucet on at all if possible. That is what can really startle and scare dogs, making them edgier and an unpleasant experience.
Most tubs are very slick. They need tub traction stickers. Their feet splay out and can even panic a bit as a result. Not being sure footed is scary for dogs and puppies. The traction mats can help them feel sure footed, a very important thing for dogs.
Save the neck and head for last and try not to get water in their ears.
Slip leash is all that’s needed. Any fussing use slip leash pressure, dog settles and continue. With a puppy just hold them and wait out any fussing and go back to bathing extra slow and have treats on you!
Two people for older or insecure dogs so the second person can hold the leash (to prevent jumping out) while the second person leans way in the tub to hold the dogs back end up while scrubbing the behind! Some dogs will stand easily, where some of the nervous dogs will tuck their bum and older dogs need help standing for longer periods of time.
Use lots of towels along the tub so you aren’t aggravated when water gets everywhere. The dogs sense frustration so stay calm and patient. This is where your nurturing and patient side can really come out.
Think of this like a massage for the dogs. Nice and slow hand motions and scratching so they enjoy part of it.
Also, teaching the tub as a place command is very useful. Hopping in and out on command for food is very valuable when you aren’t working on the water part. Do it 3x a week for a few minutes before you plan on giving a bath. That way they don’t just see the tub as water and jump in and out easier. It builds confidence.
With young or scared dogs, you need to go very slow and use lots of food in-between what you are doing to build comfort. If they don’t take food, start to really target the tub when it’s empty for fun until they are comfortable taking food. If they don’t, there is a lack of trust with the tub and it just takes time to build up. Some dogs are not food driven. If that is the case, a calm and confident tone of voice and slow massage can be the praise.
If you have a dog that is very fearful or can sometimes have a bad reaction and become aggressive, pay attention to every part of their body language. You are looking for two main things, a subtle stillness/tenseness and staring at what you are doing (like staring at your hand all of a sudden when you touch a leg or bum, etc.). When that happens you should pause and take a breath. Don’t continue to move forward. Your dog just needs to settle most likely and if you keep going, they see it as disrespectful or that you aren’t listening to them, forcing them, etc. Make sure you always pause, wait till you feel them relax and continue moving on much slower and take your time.
Be ready to settle in. It takes awhile to rinse bellies by hand. Make it as positive and considerate as you can.
I hope these tips help you with your dog at home.