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11 Useful Tips for Bathing a Dog Who Hates Water

Updated on October 9, 2011
How to bath a dog who hates water!
How to bath a dog who hates water! | Source

It’s a fact. Some dogs simply don’t like the water. However, even water dogs who love to swim and play in the pool can become skittish when it’s time for a bath. Struggling with your dog during bath time can be a draining process. Dogs who are fearful of baths or who have an aversion to getting wet may try to pull away from you when you attempt to lift them in the bathtub. A large dog may refuse to walk into the tub or shower. They may accidentally scratch or claw you in their attempt to escape. Once they are in the tub, some dogs become petrified, whining, howling and struggling incessantly. In extreme cases, a petrified dog may even vomit or urinate in the tub.

Dogs need to be bathed regularly to keep their skin and coat in top condition. Giving up on bathing your pet is never the answer. Bathing is necessary to eliminate odor, parasites, dirt and fleas. But what can you do to make bath time a smooth, stress-free process? Here are a few tips:

Use a non-skid rubber mat. The mat will make the tub floor more stable for your pet so he is not slipping and sliding all over the place. Dogs like their feet planted firmly on the ground.

Talk in a calm, soothing voice. Never yell or scream at a terrified dog. Doing so only makes matters worse. Your dog will realise you are angry and will continue to react in fear. Talking in a calm, gentle voice will help soothe his nerves.

Introduce your pet to the water slowly. If your pooch seems leery about getting into the tub, don’t immediately start squirting him with the water. Instead, turn the water on gently and spray the floor of the tub until your buddy gets use to the sound of the water.

Choose the right temperature. Make sure the water is not too hot or too cold. Room temperature is perfect for dogs.

Use toys. Many dogs enjoy playing with toys. Place a rubber ball, a floating toy or a favorite squeaky toy in the tub during bath time. This may help him feel more secure and relaxed.

Use treats. As soon as you place your pooch in the tub reward him with one of his favorite treats. Do this several times throughout the bathing process. Food helps relax the nerves and eases tension.

Consider medication. In extreme cases, your dog may require a sedative or soothing herbal remedy to ease his anxiety. This will help relax him prior to the bath. Speak to your vet about sedative alternatives, and never give your dog “human” drugs or medicine!

Enlist a helper. An extra set of hands is always helpful. Ask someone to hold your dog’s collar, or pet him while you lather him up. This is also a great way to get the kids involved in bath-time – as long as your pooch doesn’t bite or nip when he is nervous.

Massage the skin. Try to make bath time more relaxing by massaging your dog’s skin and coat as you rub in the soap. Not only is this soothing and comforting, but it is also a great way to achieve a healthier, shinier coat.

Don’t fill the tub full. Most dogs are fearful of being placed in a tub already filled with water. To make them more comfortable, keep the drain unplugged and allow the water to run out.

Use combination products. Look for products like Pet Head’s Double Dipping 2 in 1 Conditioning Shampoo. This item speeds up the bathing process and enables impatience pooches to still get pampered.


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    • profile image


      3 years ago

      Oh yeah, falobuus stuff there you!

    • profile image

      Kyley M. 

      5 years ago

      These tips will be very useful. My dog is big and he pees in the house so i have to do it outdoors. He has a terrible fear of water but i know my neighbor has successfully given him a bath a few times so i know it is possible. Thank you for the advice :)

    • profile image

      Brian M 

      6 years ago

      Thank you i have a 2 year-old royal english cockerspaniel/cocalier hybrid.. and he was a runaway and we adopted him.. Hopefuly this will make taking a bath fun 4 him.

    • Carmen H profile image

      Carmen Beth 

      7 years ago

      I am glad I have never had a dog who hates bath times but those tips will come in handy when it comes to volunteering at dogshelters and doghouses.

    • JenJen0703 profile image

      Jennifer McLeod 

      7 years ago from Detroit, Michigan

      My dog loves the water, especially when he is being sprayed with a hose. However, when I try to give him a bath, he does not appreciate it much.

    • leshey profile image


      7 years ago from England

      Very useful. Thanks! I have a Labrador that loves splashing around in streams and puddles but he hates baths!


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