5 Tips for Making Bath Time Easier

Today’s post is born out of frustration/irritation. Jethro is going for a home-visit/meet-n-greet on Saturday and fingers crossed it goes well and he gets adopted (yay!). Well, in preparation for this, on Thursday I gave him a bath so he would be clean and relatively good smelling and be irresistible! Our yard is a little bit muddy but it’s not like a swamp out there right now so I was hopeful that he’d stay mostly clean (naive and novice I know). Well today, Friday, I let him and Rio out without even thinking about the repercussions and boy did I pay the price. Jethro came back with his white chest covered in mud, his mostly white legs splattered with mud, and a big smear of mud on his back. Rio had rolled him over in the mud! UGH!!!

I hated doing it but he had to get another bath… not only was he MUDDY but he also smelled disgusting. I didn’t really have the time to do it but it had to be done since he leaves tomorrow afternoon and I teach two classes in the morning. While preparing the bathroom for him, I figured it was a great opportunity to write down my tips for making bath time as enjoyable as possible (or as least horrible as possible).

Tena’s Tips For Peaceful Bathtime

1. Peanut Butter of DOOOOOOOM–Okay, so not of doom but of awesomeness. During Jethro’s first bath here, my mom fed him peanut butter from a spoon while I bathed him and it was perfect…he wasn’t HAPPY about the bath but he wasn’t terribly bothered either. But most of the time I’m by myself bathing dogs… so THEN what? Well.. then I smear peanut butter on the edge of the tub and on the wall so the dogs can keep busy licking off the peanut butter during the whole time.

2. Teach the dogs to hop-in and hop-out of the tub on their own. I started by throwing a tennis ball into the tub and letting Shayne make the choice to go in (or not at first). When she started to going in after I threw the ball into the tub I started to ask her to hop in the tub before I through the ball. Now, she and Rio will hop in and out of the tub on their own all the time. I ask it of them frequently and only rarely do they actually have to get a bath. So getting into the bathtub is largely a fun and reinforcing game.

3. Use a rubber mat in the tub. Many dogs do not like bathtubs because they have zero traction and easily slip/slide around. Putting in a rubber bathmat into the bottom of the tub often gives them a better sense of security and safety so they don’t panic nearly as much once in the tub. Doing this in conjunction with teaching them to get in and out of the tub often is a huge step in reducing anxiety/fear about the tub. Depending on your bathroom setup or your dog’s mobility needs, you may invest in steps to get into the tub or even a walk-in bathtub so they can just walk into what looks like an extra large plastic tub.

4. Mock Bath times. When your dog is happily jumping in and out of the tub, go through the motions of giving them a bath. Have the pup hop in the tub and pretend to lather her up with soap while rewarding her frequently and talking in a happy voice–try your best to make it fun! Scrub their face, legs, feet, belly, and tail and top it off by “drying them off” with a towel. Remember to reward frequently during the mock bath. If your dog/puppy is getting stressed, give them a break and try again another time.

5. Add the water. The sound of the faucet alone can be terrifying for dogs… they can feel the vibration of the water in the pipes and the sound of it coming out of the faucet can be scary. I like to just having them with me in the bathroom while the faucet is on full blast and I am tossing them treats to desensitize them to the sound/feel of the water. I’ll also turn on the water, wet a washcloth and “bathe” them with wet cloth while the faucet is on just to add in the feeling of being wet to the process.

Dogs shoudln’t be bathed more than once a month, Rio and Shayne are bathed “as needed” which is typically every few months (more in the summer when they roll in icky things). How often are your pups bathed? Do you have any other tips for making bath time lower stress?

  1. I try for once a week in summer. Since I prefer to give baths outside, I’m not as frequent over winter and I’ll usually get one in every four weeks or so. I know vets can disagree about how often to give baths, but I like more often so I choose to believe Dr. Marty Becker when he says its OK to go more often. I have to admit that I find this line the most compelling: “Besides, do you really want to share your bed with a stinky, dirty dog?” rather than the stuff about allergies since that isn’t a serious issue for me or my dogs.

    Here is a link to his explanation of why it might be OK to go more frequently and he also has good bath tips. http://www.vetstreet.com/dr-marty-becker/simple-tricks-to-make-dogs-bath-time-easier-faster-and-neater

  2. Gwynn gets a bath when he’s particularly dirty and smelly. If it’s just dirt, he gets rinsed off with just water. This week, since ‘winter’ has been replaced by ‘mudfest’ in my neck of the woods, that means he’s been in the tub to get his legs and belly rinsed off twice. A full soap type bath happens maybe once every month or two.
    Peanut butter = genius. I’m going to have to try that. If I have someone around to help me, I get them to feed Gwynn treats, but otherwise, it’s me reaching my damp hand into a (now) damp bag of kibble and tossing a few pieces on the ledge of the tub… it’s messy.

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