Lots of dogs don’t like bathtime because they are uncomfortable in the bathtub or shower stall. Fortunately, if you follow the Boy Scout credo of being prepared, it’s easy to turn bathtime into a fun time and get a dirty dog clean again.
The primary reason dogs are hesitant to climb into the tub or shower is that they are not comfortable standing in the wet bath or on a slippery tiled floor because they can’t get a grip on the surface. If you don’t have a rubber mat to put in your bath or shower, putting down a towel is a quick fix.
Getting Ready To Go With The Flow
If you are using your bathtub, set the water temperature and have the water flowing before you position the dog. This will save time because you can then immediately get going. Don’t put in the plug – you don’t want your dog standing in soapy water.
Pre-bath prep includes getting out and opening the shampoo bottle, having a washcloth on hand for your pooch’s face and ears, and of course, a size-appropriate towel or two at hand. Be sure to use a shampoo specially formulated for dogs. Their skin has a different pH than that of humans and other pet species. If you don’t have a hand shower attached to your bath, a large plastic tub filled with water to pour over her works just as well. It’s the easiest way to pre-soak her fur and then rinse her well.
If you are using the shower stall, again, pre-set the water to a gently warm temperature. An overhead rain shower head can be difficult to use because you will both get soaked. The Aquapaw is a practical gadget that can be connected alongside your showerhead and diverts the flow of the water via an eight-foot tube into a special rubber showerhead that fits onto your hand and allows you to control the water flow with a button.
Distraction Toys Will Do The Trick
When it comes to bath time, dogs are just like kids – they need distraction toys to keep them busy while you lather them up and rinse them off. Any rubber toy, whether it’s a squeaky rubber duck or something like Kong’s Squeezz Stick dog toy that also squeaks, is ideal to keep your pooch’s interest for the duration of the clean-up operation. Peanut butter can also be your best bathtime “friend.” Simply spread some on the tiles or the side of the bath at the appropriate height to your dog’s head and she will be so busy licking the area that she won’t notice you lifting each foot to clean between her toes. (Any time you give dogs peanut butter, check the label to make sure it doesn’t contain xylitol, a sweetener that is toxic to dogs.) There are also special silicone treat gadgets that suction onto the bath or tiles designed especially for peanut butter. You can also freeze some beef both onto them and let your dog lick away.
Shampoo And Rinse
When you are ready to begin the shampoo process, start at the shoulders, working down the back and tail. Next the tummy, legs, and paws. Even dogs who are tolerant of bathtime don’t enjoy getting their faces wet, so save this for last. Use a face towel instead of spraying water in her face. This will also prevent you getting water in her ears.
Have your towel handy to get her wrapped up before a big shakeoff can even begin.
Human hair dryers are too hot and too noisy. So, if you are looking for a dryer to speed things up, consider investing in a special pet one to get the job done effectively and quickly.
The most important thing to remember after a bath is to put your pooch’s collar with ID tags back on. Even if your pet is microchipped, should she stray, proper ID is the best ticket home!
And don’t forget to give a treat!
This article was reviewed/edited by board-certified veterinary behaviorist Dr. Kenneth Martin and/or veterinary technician specialist in behavior Debbie Martin, LVT.