How to Bathe a Dog Who Hates Taking a Bath & Will Bite You

by Pauline Gill
Bathing too often can irritate your pup's skin.

Bathing too often can irritate your pup's skin.

Ryan McVay/Photodisc/Getty Images

Bathing a dog who is likely to bite can be a struggle for both you and your pup. Some dogs bite when they're afraid or don't understand what's happening. Teach your dog to trust you and introduce the idea of bathing slowly. Use encouragement, praise and treats to help him relax. Be prepared with all the tools you'll need, and you can turn a difficult activity into a pleasant experience with plenty of preparation before the bath day.

Nervous Dog

Step 1

Teach your dog to trust you. Touch his paws, handle his ears and open his mouth. While you are touching, speak in a soothing voice. When he accepts the touching, reward him with a treat and praise.

Step 2

Turn the water on in the bathtub. Lead your pup to the bathtub. Let him listen and see the water running. Praise him for watching the water.

Step 3

Lead him into the tub and turn on the water. Don't plan on giving him a bath. The goal is to have him sit in the tub for a few minutes with the water running. Praise him and give him a treat.

Step 4

Brush your pup before bath time. Speak to him as you brush his fur. This is a good time to look for mats and tangles. Remove them before the bath using a dog comb and brush. Praise him for being a good boy. Give him a treat.

Step 5

Place a rubber mat in the bathtub. This will keep your pup from slipping, which could make him nervous.

Step 6

Turn on the water and fill the tub with a few inches of lukewarm water. Add a floating toy. If he gets nervous, this is a distraction. You can offer it to him to chew.

Step 7

Gather all your supplies. Open the shampoo and place it within reach. Add a spray nozzle to the shower, if you don't have one. Set a washcloth on the tub edge and place towels near the tub. Finally, place some treats in your pocket.

Step 8

Lead your pup to the bathtub. If he is resistant, place a treat in your hand as you lead him into the tub. Put a cotton ball in each ear so they stay dry.

Step 9

Wet down your pup using the shower-spray nozzle. Wet his head last so he doesn't shake it and get nervous. Apply the shampoo by running a line of it down the middle of his back.

Step 10

Lather up the shampoo by rubbing him gently and working the shampoo into his coat and skin. Lather the body, legs, belly area, tail and neck area. Wet a washcloth with water and add a small amount of shampoo. Wipe his face, rinse the cloth and wipe again. Talk to him while you lather and wash. Praise him and give him a treat.

Step 11

Rinse thoroughly. Rinse from the head towards the back. Empty the water. Grab a towel and place it on your pup. Gently rub him with the towel but don't rub too hard. It can cause mats. Give him another treat and praise him.

Step 12

Dry him with a pet dryer or let him run around the house. Air drying is fine if he has short hair. He will love to run after a bath. It will add to the pleasant experience.

Extreme Situations

Step 1

Prepare for the bath. Gather all the supplies. Open the shampoo and place towels within reach. Adjust the water temperature.

Step 2

Put a muzzle on your dog and then lead him to the bathroom. Talk to him calmly as you lead him into the water.

Step 3

Wet down your pup using the shower-spray nozzle. Avoid the head area. Lather up the shampoo and work it from the neck area to the back to help gain his trust. Continue to talk to him while you work.

Step 4

Rinse him thoroughly starting from the neck area and working to the back. Take him out of the bathtub and gently rub down his fur with the towels. Once he is calm, remove the muzzle. Wet the washcloth and wash the face area.

Items You Will Need

  • Dog treats
  • Dog comb
  • Dog brush
  • Rubber mat
  • Floating toy
  • Dog shampoo
  • Detachable shower-spray nozzle
  • Washcloth
  • Towels
  • Cotton balls
  • Pet dryer (optional)
  • Muzzle (optional)

Tips

  • If your dog continues to be resistant, you can use a bathing tether. It has nylon straps with suction cups on each strap. It attaches to his collar and latches onto each side of the tub. This will keep him restrained so you can finish the bath.
  • If your dog is too excited to bathe, talk to your vet about giving him a mild sedative.

Warnings

  • Don't use human shampoo because the pH is wrong for dogs.
  • Avoid getting shampoo or water in his eyes or ears.

Photo Credits

  • Ryan McVay/Photodisc/Getty Images

About the Author

Pauline Gill is a retired teacher with more than 25 years of experience teaching English to high school students. She holds a bachelor's degree in language arts and a Master of Education degree. Gill is also an award-winning fiction author.

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