Why do Dogs Hate Baths?

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Do you have to holler at and chase after your dog before every bath time?

If yes then you already know the pains and labor it can take to wash a dog that just hates being bathed. You want to give your dog a bath to clean them up, getting them looking good, and smelling nice and fresh. But like a lot of pet owners you probably can’t understand why your dog resists and runs like crazy, making you run after them for an experience they should in fact look forward to and enjoy.

Do all dogs hate baths?

Your dog may not look at a bath the same way that you do. It is not an enjoyable, lovely experience for him. He is afraid of the water. He hates getting suds all over his body and face. He hates the rough handling. He hates the insecure footing on the wet floor.

His after-bath experience is not that pleasant either. He hates having to stay cold and wet – left to dry on his own, or having to stand still and feel the burning, stinging, hot sensation that a poorly-held hair blower gives him.

So, why do dogs hate baths?

  • Bad Associations

Your dog may have had an earlier traumatic experience about being given a bath. As a puppy, was he dragged against his will into a bath and soused with ice-cold water? Was he subjected to a frightening shave in the bathtub?

How do you entice him to prepare for a bath? Do you say “Okay, it’s time,” the way you also do when he has to take his foul-tasting medicines or to have his nails clipped? Make sure that you do not use words that he associates with something negative. He is likely to respond to the idea of baths in the same unenthusiastic manner.

  • Unpleasant Sensations

What sounds does your dog hear when he is given a bath? He hears the water loudly rumbling through the pipes. He hears the water gush out from the faucet. He hears the sudden spurts as the drain sucks down the water. He feels the sudden freaky sensation of water being poured all over him. These are sounds and sensations that are not exactly something to look forward to.

  • Discomfort

Does your dog fit well in his doggy bath — or does he have to suffer the tight fit of a small tub, or even worse, slide around unnervingly in a big tub? Is the water too cold or too hot? Does he get soapsuds in his eyes? Does he skid around on the tub and lose his balance? Does he find it painful to be touched in certain areas?

All these things add up to make your dog miserable about taking a bath. You have to understand your pets apprehensions and take the time and effort to ease them. You can make your dog enjoy bath time or at least accept it with patience and calm.

Making Bath Time Comfortable and Pleasant

  • Use positive reinforcement.

Introduce your dog to the bath slowly and patiently. Play with him near the tub. Give him treats to draw him closer to the bath. He will start to associate the bath with something good and enjoyable.

  • Prepare for bath time with care.

Fill the tub with enough water to come up to his knees. Have extra water on a pail nearby so you do not have to turn the tap on and off during bath time.

  • Choose the right shampoo

Making bath time as enjoyable for your dog as possible also means choosing the best shampoo. Your dog may have skin condition that becomes irritated when washed and may be leading to discomfort during bath time, if this is the case choosing the correct shampoo can make a huge difference.

  • Take extra care about little things.

Lay him down gently on his tub; do not dunk him unceremoniously in a pail of cold water. Do not get shampoo in his mouth or eyes. Do not squirt water on his face.  See to it that the water is comfortably lukewarm.

If you bathe him outside, make sure that the weather is sunny, not cold and brisk. If you are hosing him down, make sure that you do so with a gentle stream of water. He will not appreciate a cold, uncomfortable, and rushed hosing.

  • Make sure that his footing is secure.

Some people find it a good experience to collar or gently tie the dog so he learns how to keep still. This will lessen the reprimands and chases that make bath time so stressful for both of you.

  • Set the ambiance with your voice and manner.

When you give your dog his bath, talk to him in a calm, gentle, and soothing voice. Sound self-assured but not pushy or controlling.

  • Keep the right mind set.

When you are bathing your dog, be ready to get wet. This way, you are not likely to get angry every time he moves and gets water on you. Keep towels near you. If your dog feels that you are enjoying the experience with him, he is likely to view bath time more eagerly.

Your Dog CAN Enjoy Bath Time

How to Improve Bath Time for you and your Dog

Your dog does not really hate baths – not if you make it a gentle, pleasant, and loving experience.

It is a matter of getting into your dogs head – of looking at a bath from their perspective.

It is also about taking a close look at your own emotional state. Do you find bathing your dog an unpleasant chore – something that you need to do and get over with quickly? This does not bode well for you and your dog.

If you look at bath time as an opportunity for high-quality bonding with your dog, you will be setting the right tenor for it. Your dog will see bath time as an occasion for a refreshing bath, a soothing massage, and a wonderful brushing. He will see bath time as a time when he has your full attention to himself – and he will love it and look forward to it.

About the author

Jade Anderson

Author and pet lover at Cleaner Paws. Jade has over 14 years experience working with pets and has a interest in pet grooming. Jade is a pet lover and has a jack Russell terrier name Teddy and a Persian cat named Lulu. On weekends she can be found reading at home and looking after Teddy and Lulu.

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By Jade Anderson