Why do Dogs Hate Baths? Myth or Reality for Your Pet?

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This review guide was updated in February 2019.

unhappy wet dog in bath

As a pet owner do you have to holler at and chase after your dog every time you try to get them in the bath?

If yes then you already know the pains and labor it can take to wash a dog that just hates being bathed.

You want to give your dog a bath to clean them up, get them looking good and smelling sweet and fresh; however, sometimes this much easier said than done!

Like a lot of pet owners you probably can’t understand why your dog resists and runs like crazy when its bath time.

It’s almost as if they enjoy the chase and making you run after them, which we’re not ruling out entirely but it can also be frustrating having to try and pin them down for an experience they should, in fact, look forward to and enjoy.

Do all dogs hate baths?

It is important to remember that your dog may not look at bath time the same way that you do.

In fact, often it is not an enjoyable, relaxing experience for them and it could well even be that your dog is afraid of the water.

If it isn’t the water they are afraid of then your pet may hate getting soap all over their coat or face.

It may be the rough handling they hate or even the insecure footing on the wet floor o the tub.

Once you have finished bathing your dog, the after-bath experience may not be all that pleasant either.

Your dog may hate having to stay cold and wet – left to dry on their own, or having to stand still and feel the burning, stinging, hot sensation that a poorly-held hair blower gives them.

So although we may automatically think that all dogs hate being bathed, many factors may contribute to your dog’s lack of enjoyment of bath time.

All these issues need to be considered when it comes to bathing your pet and minimizing these inconveniences will help to make the experience as enjoyable as possible.

Reasons Your Dog May Not Enjoy Bath Time

  • Bad Associations – Your dog may have had a previous traumatic experience when it came to being bathed.As a puppy, could they have been dragged against their will into a bath and introduced to with ice-cold water? Or was it a frightening shave in the bathtub?Although no pet owner means to harm their lovable pal, when it comes to bath time we need to be extra careful. You need to think about many factors including, how do you entice your pet to prepare them for a bath? Do you say “Okay, it’s time,” the way you also do when they have to take a foul-tasting medicine or to have their nails clipped? For starters, this could be where you’re going wrong, and it is crucial you make sure that you do not use words your dog associates with something negative. If you do it is likely, they will respond to the idea of baths in the same unenthusiastic manner as they do with the other two unfavorable tasks mentioned above.
  • Unpleasant Sensations – What sounds does your dog hear when you’re bathing them? It is possible they hear the water loudly rumbling through the pipes, or it may even be the water gushing out from the faucet. They may hear the sudden spurts as the drain sucks down the water.If it isn’t the sounds that unnerve your dog than it may be the sudden freaky sensation of water being poured all over them. These are sounds and sensations that your dog would naturally come in to contact with and just like us, humans, the unknown can be a little unnerving. Familiarizing your pet with these new sounds and sensations will help when it comes to introducing your pet to bath time.
  • Discomfort – Does your pet fit well in their bathtub — or do they have to suffer the tight fit of a small tub, or even worse, slide around unnervingly in a tub that is too large? Is the water too cold or too hot? Does he get soapsuds in his eyes? Do they skid around in the tub and lose their balance? Does your dog find it painful to be touched in specific areas when being bathed? All these things can add up to make your dog miserable about taking a bath. You have to understand your pets apprehensions and take the time and effort to ease them. You can make your dog enjoy bath time or at least accept it by being patient and calm and finding out exactly what works for them.

How to make bathing your dog more enjoyable

  • Use positive reinforcement – Introduce your dog to the bath slowly and patiently.Start by playing with your pet near the tub and give out treats to draw them closer to the tub.This will lead to your dog starting to associate the bath with an enjoyable experience rather than one to be feared.
  • Prepare for bath time with care – Fill the tub with water up to around half way up your dog’s legs.This should be enough water to begin rinsing your dog with, and you should also have extra water on a pail nearby so you do not have to turn the tap on and off during bath time, which can unnerve your dog.
  • Choose the right shampoo – Making bath time as enjoyable for your dog as possible also means choosing the best shampoo.Your dog may have a skin condition that becomes irritated when washed and may lead to discomfort during bath time if this is the case choosing the correct shampoo can make a huge difference.If you’re trying to help your dog fight infection, why not try an oatmeal bath which can work wonders for skin conditions.
  • Take extra care of the little things – Lay your dog down gently in the tub; do not dunk your pet unceremoniously in a pail of cold water.Also try to avoid getting shampoo in their mouth or eyes which will only lead to irritation.In fact, it is recommended to proceed exceptionally slowly when washing your dogs face and do not squirt water directly at them.Just like at the hairdressers you should also see to it that the water is comfortably lukewarm.If you decide to bathe your dog outside, look to do so when the weather is sunny, not cold or brisk.Also when rinsing your pet off, make sure that you do so with a gentle stream of water.It is unlikely your dog will appreciate a cold, uncomfortable, and rushed rinsing.
  • Make sure your pet’s footing is secure – When introducing your pet to being bathed some owners find it an excellent experience to tie their dog gently, so they learn how to keep still in the bath.This will lessen the reprimands and chases that make bath time so stressful for both you and your pet.
  • Set the ambiance with your voice and manner – When you bath your dog, talk to them in a calm, gentle, and soothing voice.Sound self-assured but not pushy or controlling, and this can go a long way to making the experience a whole lot more enjoyable.
  • Keep the right mindset – When you are bathing your dog, be ready to get wet.This way, you are not likely to get angry every time your pet moves and accidentally gets water all over you.Keep towels nearby and if your dog feels that you are enjoying the experience with them, they are far more likely to view bath time more favorably.

We hope that by following these steps you will discover your dog does not hate baths – not if you make the process a gentle, pleasant, and loving experience.

Put simply it is a matter of getting into your dogs head – of looking at bath time from their perspective.

It is also about taking a close look at your emotional state.

Do you find bathing your dog an unpleasant chore – something that you need to do and get over with quickly?

If so this does not bode well for you or your dog, and it is likely they will pick up on how you feel about the task.

However, if you look at bath time as an opportunity for high-quality bonding time with your dog, you will be setting the right mood for it.

Your dog will see bath time as an occasion for a refreshing scrub, a soothing massage, and an excellent brushing.

They will also view bath time as a time when they have your full attention – and will love and look forward to it.

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