If Your Dog Doesn't Like Baths, Then This Article is For You...
If you own a dog and you're used to bath time being a stressful experience, then you might be thinking it's impossible to turn things around. The truth is, the way we approach and prepare for bath time plays a big role in whether or not our dogs cooperate. Bath time can actually be a good source of bonding time for you and your dog!
The key is to have a strategy for the change. Here are some tips to make your dog love bath time.
#1. Begin With a Long Walk
A lot of dogs naturally enjoy a dip in the water after exercise when they’re feeling hot and tired, so use those natural instincts to your advantage. Also, as a bonus, your dog will have less energy to act up during the bath.
#2. Take Your Time, Don't Rush
If you don't allow enough time set aside for a bath, you might find it hard to remain calm and live in the moment. When you're feeling rushed, your dog will naturally pick up on those anxious feelings. Find a time when you can relax and focus on making it a calming and pleasant experience.
#3. Maintain a Positive Attitude
If you've had a negative experience with your dog at bath time again and again, your body language and energy levels are most likely communicating to your dog that you are anticipating a stressful situation, before he or she even knows what you’re going to do together! You'd be surprised to learn how much of a difference it can make to approach the bath with calm, assertive, and positive energy!
#4. Add Toys to the Equation
One way to change your dog's attitude about bath time is to make them associate bath time with playtime! This can be particularly effective for dogs who really enjoy toys. Bring their favorite toy(s) into the tub!
#5. Bring in Another Dog to Set a Good Example
Sometimes the best teacher is another dog. If your dog is well socialized, taking a bath with another dog who is having a great time and is relaxed can help your dog learn how to enjoy the experience.
Note: Make sure the two of them meet prior to the bath, so you can ensure they get along!
#6. Make The Water Comfortable
Careful when choosing the water temperature, to base it on what you notice your dog prefers, rather than what you think is comfortable. Overly warm water can actually be a shock to your dog, since they aren't used to it, so keep it lukewarm to ensure that temperature isn’t part of the problem. You can adjust accordingly when you start to get a good idea of your dog's ideal temperature!
#7. Begin Young
Some pet parents tend to assume their puppy is adjusting well to bath time when he or she is just standing still, rigidly (or worse, shaking in fear) during the process. But just because they aren't trying to jump out of the bath, doesn't mean they are relaxed. Help your puppy (or dog) learn to enjoy the process by allowing them to explore the bathtub before you even add water! When it's dry, it's less intimidating.
#8. Bring Food Into the Tub
Treats can make any bad situation a little better (this is true for dogs, and for humans). Using their favorite food or treat to make the process more enjoyable is a great way to encourage positive associations with bath time.
#9. Start Small
Running water can be an unfamiliar sound. Let them get used to it. Then add a little water to the tub. Start by getting just the feet wet, then the legs. Continue from there. Make the process slow and gradual, giving your dog time to get used to each step. A lot of people make the mistake of plopping them in a full tub of water right away, instead of easing them into it.
Comfort is Key
It's ok if the first bath, or even the first few baths don't go well or you don't finish. The most important part is getting your dog to feel comfortable.
Does your dog enjoy bath time? Let us know in the comments below.
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