Most dogs aren’t scared of getting a little dirty, especially if you have a pet that likes to roll around in the mud while outside playing. With their naturally adventurous and curious spirit, dogs are going to get into something dirty or smelly and their owners will inevitably need to bathe them.
Here are a few tips to make bath time as easy as you can for both you and your pet.
Make it fun. Teaching your dog to associate bath time with things they love is a great way to make sure they don’t fight you every time they come close to a tub or shower. Many dogs do not like getting bathed, especially when you think that they are being restrained, soaked and slathered in soaps and shampoos. Make sure and praise your dog throughout the bath and immediately following give them treats, a brand new toy or other positive reinforcements. With time, your pet will learn that something good happens after bath time and they will fight less and less.
Pay attention to yourself. Not only can bath time be stressful for your dog, but it can also be a tense situation for you. Be aware of your body language and the tone in your voice when giving your pet a bath. Your pet feeds off of your emotions. If you seem stressed or tense then your pet will react to these behaviors in a negative way. No matter the situation, try to remain cool under pressure while bathing your dog and keep your voice calm and smooth.
Start early. If you adopt a dog as a puppy, then start giving him or her baths early. This will allow them to get used to bath time at an early age and will help to make it an easier experience as they grow and get older. You should also handle your puppy each day to get them used to the touches involved with not just bath time but also grooming. Each day, touch your puppy all over, making sure to handle their feet, toes and tail. In addition, open their mouth, check their teeth and examine their ears. This will allow your dog to become familiar with these touches and will make them less stressed when it is time for a bath or trip to the groomer.
Teach your pet to get in. Teaching your dog to get in and out of the bathtub will be a useful tool so you don’t break your back trying to lift them in and out. To train your pet, you will want to use something like a cardboard box. First, show them a treat. Then, say your command, such as “get in.” Toss your treat into the box and once the dog gets into the box praise them while giving them a second treat. Then use the command “get out” and clap your hands to encourage him to leave the box. Praise him again. Once he has mastered the box, try doing this same trick in the empty bathtub. With time and lots of positive reinforcements, your dog will be hopping right into the tub.
Do you have a question for Brian? E-mail him at AskBrian@hsdayton.org. Brian Weltge is the president and CEO of the Humane Society of Greater Dayton. For more information, call (937) 268-PETS (7387) or visit www.hsdayton.org.