Your dog probably hates the bath. It’s no one’s fault, it’s just in their wiring. But bath time doesn’t have to be a struggle, or a trip to the groomers. These 5 simple positive reinforcement tactics can teach your dog to love the bath, saving you money, time, and energy. Make bath time a bonding experience for you and your dog, you’ll be happy you did!
Step 1: Assess your starting point
Does your dog hate the shampoo? The water? The bathtub? The bathroom? You have to start at the first stress trigger before bath time can be positive. See where your dog starts to get uneasy – that’s your starting point, not the bath itself.
Step 2: Create positive associations with bathtime
Once you know the first point of tension, you can start to create positive experiences around it to counter the negative. For example, if your dog is scared of the bathroom, start by luring them into the bathroom with treats. Keep the door open and let your dog come in and out at their own will.
If the bathtub is the point of tension, apply the same principle of giving treats near and in the tub until it becomes a positive place where your dog gets rewarded! Pretty soon they will be sitting at the tub waiting for a little reward.
Step 3: Exercise and unwind before bathtime
Before going all the way to a bath, tire out your dog’s body and mind with exercise and games. A tired dog is a relaxed dog. Make sure to leave time between exercise and bath time for your dog to calm down or you’ll start the bath while your dog is still in an energized state.
Step 4: Make the bath a happy place
If the bathtub is really stressful, try distracting with a high value treat that keeps them busy like frozen peanut butter. We love K9 Bath Buddy for a little help to teach your dog to love the bath. Also consider that your dog may prefer a shower to a bath. You may both change your perspective on bath time by putting your dog in the shower with you. Once they’re clean, set them lose in the bathroom with some towels on the floor while you finish your own shampoo and conditioner. It can be that easy to get your dog to love the bath!
Step 5: Create Little Victories
You don’t have to wash, brush, blow dry, nail trim all in one shot. That might be too much too soon. Start with a shampoo and rinse, keeping it efficient as possible. Allow your dog to air dry and brush their fur someplace else in the house where they feel at ease. Make sure to end the brushing before they become aggravated with you or they will build negative associations with the brush. Continue to reward with treats as you go.
Of course, if your dog is not food motivated, find something else that is special to your dog and apply it to bath time. Taking a bath is an unnatural situation for your dog, so it’s important to take the time to make it a comfortable for them. A small investment of time can make for a big difference in your bath time experience and a noticeable difference in your wallet!
If you found this article helpful, share this with someone who needs tips for the tub. Don’t forget to leave a tip of your own in the comments!