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I can't give my dog a bath because she's terrified of water! How do you get a dog, that absolutely hates water, to...

Updated on June 14, 2008

gently does it

Most dogs like water and will wade through puddles and throw themselves into lakes or rivers but show them a bath (or even mention the word) and they will run a mile so it may not be water she's afraid of but the taps and the bath itself and even the bathroom if she hardly ever goes into it.What you need most of all is to be very patient and not shout or force her.

Try getting her used to the room first. Why not take her in with you when you have a bath. Do this several times without attempting to get her in. Let her see that you are enjoying it. She will probably cower next to the door the first time but keep talking to her reassuringly and eventually she will relax and see that there is nothing to fear. When you think she is ready, put her in the bath but don't turn on the water, make a big fuss of her, tell her what a good girl she is then take her out and give her a little treat. Do this a few times. Next fill the bath with a few inches of water before you bring her in to the bathroom. Put her in gently while praising her all the time, wash just her paws, then take her out and give her a treat. Eventually shampoo her normally and when she is out of the bath and has behave well, lavish praise and give her a special treat which you will only keep for this occasion.

Dogs are not keen on perfume so use unscented products and no bubbles.

My own dog was like that. He was a 3-year old rescue dog who had been badly mistreated and had some appalling behaviour patterns mainly caused by fear. Five years on, he is a terrific dog, extremely well behaved and obedient, an absolute joy.

I decided right at the beginning that I would never shout at him or show impatience. Instead, I praised him lavishly when he got things right and petted him. When I first had him, he used to cower every time my hand went near him so you can imagine what he associated the human hand with. When he discovered that it was also used for carressing, he just wanted more and he quickly worked out what he had to do to get petted.

He is too big a dog for me to lift into the bath but by the method I have described he now walks into the shower by his own free will. I have now got him used to the hairdryer too and he loves it!

It is better for dogs to get used to being bathed when they are small puppies but failing that, keep calm, use plenty of patience and lavish praise and, in time, bathing won't be such an ordeal.


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      Prosper 3 years ago

      I appreciate your kind and geneuors advice a lot!. I have been trying it hardly and did not get those amazing results!. It is nice to see that you got my comment in a good way!God bless you!VA:F [1.9.10_1130]please wait VA:F [1.9.10_1130](from 0 votes)

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      Mande 3 years ago

      Now we know who the seinsble one is here. Great post!

    • martinecallaghan profile image

      Martine Callaghan 6 years ago from Edinburgh - Scotland

      At least it looks unlikely that Flossie has been mistreated. Just remember that she will feel very strange and out of routine. Patience and love work every time even if it's not always the fastest solution.

      I wish you a lovely time with your Flossie.


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      flossie 6 years ago

      just got flossie a five year old cross collie today 30th march 2011 she wasn't at all happy when i attempted to get her to have a bath she is a tad large to lift and smells a bit doggy to say the least , i had to be content in using my own face flannel to remove the mud from her paws and body time will tell as we know little as she too is a rescue dog her owner went into care as she had dementia so i adopted flossie from the rspca , i have two cockatiels boris squared up to her when she tried to pinch his dinner which was funny , max my female bird looked disapprovingly from her wardrobe perch in sheer disbelief! but hopefully it will sort itself out!

    • Pashun profile image

      Pashun 9 years ago from Harpyland

      Thank you for the information, I will try that. I've had her since she was 3 months old and she's ALWAYS been afraid of the water. She is now 7 years old and still hates it...I will try the slow association though next time she tries to drink from the toilet haha...If you even try to get her in the batheroom she goes ballistic. Thanks for the information~