Bathing and grooming a dog are important bonding and hygienic experiences for owner and pup. But for some, grooming and bathing our dogs is not always an easy task even for our water-loving friends. In the past, I’ve been lucky enough to work alongside a few wonderful groomers and have bathed countless dogs myself. Here are a few tips and tricks to help get your pup to enjoy a bath (or at least tolerate it)!
- Start young: Dogs are creatures of patterns and habits so it should come as no surprise that if you begin doing baths regularly (every other week), especially when they are puppies, the process will become easier as they grow older. Desensitization or positive association to certain events or stimulus can act to protect your dog from becoming anxious about a bath.
- Don’t underestimate a good treat: If possible, bring another trusted companion with you and have that person feed your dog her favorite treat and pet her if you’re dealing with high anxiety.
If you’ve adopted an older dog from a shelter with bathing anxiety, and have little to no background on her prior experience with baths, the next few solutions may prove even more helpful to you.
- Small steps: Sometimes just the sounds, energy, placement, and surroundings of a bath can create anxiety for dogs. If you are using our tubs at The Happy Beast and have an anxious dog, I always suggest bringing in your pup to inspect the surroundings before giving her a bath. Letting your dog understand that she’s safe and there is no need for fear can sometimes be a great step to lessen anxiety.
- Treats, treats, treats: While giving a bath, make it short and sweet. Then, over time, slowly work up to a full bath, using our blow dryer, additional brushing, etc. Sometimes small experiences increase the success of the larger experience. We want our dogs to associate the experience with either a neutral result or a positive result. A small treat provides a quick, positive stimulus for most dogs because they’re food-motivated animals.
- Getting over the evil, loud, blow dryer: It’s also no surprise that most dogs absolutely hate the blow dryer (which is the most effective way to get all that pesky undercoat hair dry). Once again, gradual desensitization and more treats can help most dogs learn to tolerate the dryer. A few other tips:
- When blow drying a nervous dog, always take off the nozzle on the dryer. This lowers the noise significantly and allows for a more “even” feeling on their skin, which feels more like wind than a dryer.
- Never begin with your dog’s face or close-up. Start a few feet away from your dog with the dryer and blow directly at her midsection. As your dog becomes more comfortable, you can bring the dryer closer and move it slowly back and forth.
- Avoid any known sensitive areas and do in small increments over time to allow your dog to get more comfortable.
- CBD and anti-anxiety treats: For some of us dog owners, no matter how much positive reinforcement or treats we give, our dogs will still panic when it comes to baths. As someone who strongly believes in the use of CBD for anxiety (see our blog post about CBD for more information), this is an underrated tool that can help make any stressful situation safer and less stressful for you and your dog.
- At The Happy Beast, we carry a wide variety of CBD and natural anti-anxiety treats. CBD acts as a safe way to lower the anxiety response and allow the bath experience to be less stressful. Always give your dog the recommended dose for her specific weight and what the situation calls for. Administer the dose about an hour before you come in for a bath.
To summarize, baths are an important part of upkeep for your dog’s skin and coat and helps reduce excess hair and dander around your home. Although all dogs react, interact, and learn differently, I hope some of these suggestions help guide you to an easier and more fun experience bathing your dog.
Have any questions? Feel free to call, email, or stop by the store to try out our self-serve dog wash. We provide the tubs, shampoo, conditioner, towels, blow dryer, and treats – all for just $12. Or take advantage of discounted washes for $10 on Wash Day Wednesdays.