How to Calm a Dog During Bath Time

by Jodi L. Hartley
    Bath time doesn't have to be a battle.

    Bath time doesn't have to be a battle.

    Chris Amaral/Digital Vision/Getty Images

    Lots of dogs think bath time is a real rain on their parade. Some dogs bolt just from hearing the sound of water running in the bath tub and, once you get them in the tub, they give you a drenching, too. Bath time doesn’t have to be a battle if you follow a few steps to help her be calm while she gets clean.

    Step 1

    Make the bath area a fun place. Start by leading or carrying your dog into the bathroom and giving her treats and praise. Let her exit the bathroom when she wants, then lead her in again with treats and praise. Repeat this several times a day for a few days.

    Step 2

    When she is happily entering the bathroom, start throwing treats into the bathtub and help her into the tub to retrieve them. Encourage her to stay in the bathtub for a minute then let her out if she wishes. Praise her for staying calmly. Repeat until she is comfortable in the tub.

    Step 3

    Start running the water from the faucet or sprayer and give her treats and praise. Don’t put water directly on her yet. Continue this until she is no longer scared when she hears water running.

    Step 4

    Using a cup or a sprayer, start wetting her down just a little while giving treats and praise. You’ll probably only want to do this once a day for a few days until she is calm when getting wet.

    Step 5

    It’s time for a complete bath. Wet her down completely and then shampoo her from the neck down. Be gentle as you massage the shampoo through her and give her treats periodically. Talk to her calmly and reassuringly as you bathe her and praise her for being calm. Wash her face and ears with a washcloth to keep water and shampoo out of her eyes. Rinse her thoroughly and carefully.

    Step 6

    Dry her with a towel. If you want to use a hair dryer, you will want to use similar steps to get her used to the sound and feel of it. Give her treats and praise and then play her favorite game or give her a special toy reserved just for bath time.

    Items You Will Need

    • High-value treats
    • Toys
    • Dog shampoo
    • Cup or sprayer
    • Towel

    Tips

    • Place a rubber mat or towel in the bathtub and on the bathroom floor to minimize slipping for your dog.
    • Always check the temperature of the water before putting it on your dog to make sure it’s not too hot or too cold.
    • Throughout the process, maintain a calm, confident and upbeat attitude and speak calmly but positively to your dog.

    Warnings

    • If your dog is severely frightened or aggressive when getting a bath, seek the help of a certified animal behaviorist or trainer who has experience working with fearful dogs.
    • Be sure to check with your veterinarian about how often your dog should be bathed.

    Photo Credits

    • Chris Amaral/Digital Vision/Getty Images

    About the Author

    Jodi L. Hartley has been a writer and public relations professional since 1992. Her experience includes public relations and marketing for a pet service/retail business, as well as volunteer work with animal rescue organizations. Hartley holds a bachelor's degree in journalism and an M.B.A.

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