Bathing our dogs is a chore that no one wants to do – cue wet clothes, soaking floors, and lots of washing to do! Sadly, no one seems to have told the dogs this! They seem to seek out extra smelly things to roll in or that particularly stagnant pond for a swim. However, bath time doesn’t need to be a battle. Caroline recently shared her top tips for making bathing your dog a breeze.
Does your dog know what’s going to happen as soon as they approach the bathroom? It may be worth spending a few weeks getting them more comfortable in the area. Start outside the bathroom, throw some treats in, and allow your dog to come back out. Don’t trap them in there as this will only make them feel more stressed. Give them the choice to go in and leave when they want. You can also ask them for simple tricks they know, such as “send to mat” using your bath mat. Once they are comfortable there, repeat with both of you in the bathroom. After all, it’s where you need to be for bathing! You could also add in calming scents sprayed on a towel near the bath, such as Caroline Ingraham’s Fear and Anxiety spray or Pet Remedy.
Take some time to teach them tricks that can help the bathing process. If you only have access to a bath, teach them to put their paws on your arm to help lift them into it. For walk-in showers, asking them to go into the shower is much easier than struggling to push them. This can be taught in the same way as “send to bed” – just make sure you train without the water flowing!
Hopefully, both hound and human are feeling a bit calmer about the prospect of a bath. Now it’s time to think about the way you bathe a dog. Leaning over them is quite scary, so it is better to work at their level. Sit on a low stool or kneel on a soft surface to make this a more even experience.
The bath surface should also be considered. Not only is it generally slippery, but it reflects and amplifies the sound of the water. An easy way to rectify this is to pop a towel or bath mat down, in the base of the bath, before turning the water on. It gives the dog something to grip and dampens the noise. To help reduce the noise further opening a window lets the noise out, and you can also put some calming music on. There are plenty of canine calming playlists around, so find one you both enjoy.
It is worthwhile starting the water stream with low pressure. Allowing the pressure to increase rather than blasting straight away gives the dog a chance to adapt. Or you can start by just having your dog standing in a few inches of water – just don’t fill the bath too high!
There are a few products around which help with bath time. They give the dog a yummy surface to lick while being washed. Things like Sticky Bones and Lickimat Splash are designed for sticky treats – peanut butter, liver paste, wet food. Licking is calming for canines but it is worth introducing these outside the bath initially. Alternatively, you can just smear these kinds of treats around the bath, if you’re happy to give it a good scrub after and you’ve not used harsh chemicals on the bath before.
Above all, try to keep baths short if your dog is worried by them. If you can get away with a quick wipe down or just washing a specific area – do it. It is definitely worth the effort to start making the experience of bathing more comfortable. If it’s less of a concern for the dog, it will be less of a chore for you.
Watch Caroline’s Top Tips for making bathtime fun!