Do you have to bathe the dog? Don't make these 5 mistakes!


Turning the toilet into a play area, and even sharing the bathtub with the can, helps you overcome your fear of water

  • Author: By EVA SAN MARTÍN
  • Publication date: September 29, 2012

The bathroom should be part of a dog's hygiene routine. However, what to do when a dog hates water? This article provides the keys. A safe toilet will help a fearful animal, although it is necessary to know how to calm the dog during the bath Y how to make this fun for the animal to overcome its rejection of water.

To some dogs don't like water. Moreover, certain dogs feel dread when they perceive the time of grooming is approaching. However, an animal needs to take at least one bath per month, if it lives in the city, and one every two weeks, in case of dogs with greater contact with the countryside and the rural world. It is a fundamental habit for the pet to be healthy. But how to bathe a dog that hates water?

A safe toilet will help a fearful dog

A dog that hates water is not born, it is made. It is at least what the scientific journal 'Helium' affirms. "The domestic dog develops fear of water as a result of a negative past experience in the aquatic environment. In nature, canine aversion to water simply does not exist, "says the publication. The animal associates the moment of entering the bathtub with an unpleasant experience, so, in these cases, the feeling of fear for the Water does not take long to feel.

A plastic mat in the bathtub prevents the dog from slipping, so it will feel safer

Taking care of the animal's safety during the bath is a great help for a fearful dog. Place a rubber mat on the bottom of the bathtub or shower is useful. This plastic coating will prevent the skating of our four-legged friend, so you will feel less vulnerable during the bath.

To bathe a puppy or an animal of small dimensions we must bear in mind that the usual bathtub may be too big for him. Instead you can use a basin, or even the sink sink.

In any case, you have to avoid placing objects that may fall, as shampoo cans - which should always be specific for dogs, since their PH is different from the human - on the edge of the bathtub. In case of slipping and rushing into the water, the impact would only frighten a dog that hates water even more.

How to calm the dog during the bath

Share the bathtub With an animal that abhors the moment of grooming helps certain dogs. In this way, the toilet can also become an ideal time to strengthen the relationship with our furry friend.

Do not shower the dog, the noise of pressurized water will increase your fear

It is possible to use a bowl or a casserole to pour water on the body of the dog, little by little and in a delicate way, since the risk of feeling fear will decrease. When you want to clean a scary animal, you should forget about the shower: the noise of the water that comes out of the shower head of the bathroom only makes your anguish increase.

Talking with the dog, as well as providing caresses and affection, also helps. Our tone of voice should not sound nervous or angry, since in such a case it will be difficult to ensure that the animal does not associate bath time with an anguishing experience.

Some dogs may also suffer claustrophobia and anguish when they are in confined spaces. Showers and bathtubs of small dimensions are suitable receptacles to awaken the possible fear of the animal to feel cloistered. In these cases, leave the bathroom door openAnd even avoid completely closing the curtain or shower screen will reduce fear.

Error No. 1: Do not prepare anything

That your dog loves to go to the beach and get into the water does not mean that at bath time we have things much easier, especially when it comes to the first bath. Bathing time is a new experience for most dogs, and we must always present it as a positive activity, doing everything slowly and progressively to get it to adapt and avoid so you can feel fear or rejection of the bathroom. Here are some tips to get it:

  • Days before bathing, you must first familiarize yourself with all the elements involved in the bathroom. You must know the bathroom, the bathtub, the noise of the dryer (if you are going to use it), you must have been in contact with the water, having used a towel… etc. It is important that you accept these objects naturally and do not be afraid of any of them.
  • On the day of the bath, it is important to reward your dog when it is collaborative, and never punish him if he does not collaborate. If it is slightly scary (which is usually normal the first time) you should not reward it because, contrary to what you may think, you would be promoting this behavior.
  • Bathing a dog always requires large doses of patience. Choose a quiet day where you have enough free time to devote to your dog. Always be very patient, you will see as if you follow these tips in the end you get to bathe your dog without problems.

Error No. 2: Do not protect your eyes and ears

When bathing our dog we must protect the ears and eyes from water and shampoo. Although many dogs love water and have no trouble getting into the bathtub, they don't usually like water or shampoo entering their eyes, especially when it causes discomfort or irritation. If the latter happens, its placid and relaxing bath could become a nightmare, something difficult to forget that would make your dog not want to step on the bathroom again for a long time. In the same way as the eyes, the ears also have to be protected, since it is easy for them to enter the ear canal and if they do not dry properly the humidity could cause infections over time.

To avoid all these problems instead of using the direct jet we can use a wet towel to clean the area of ​​the face. And if we want to protect the ears during the bath, we can use cotton balls to prevent water from entering the ear canal.

Error Nº3: choose an inappropriate shampoo

One of the most common mistakes that exist when we bathe our hairy is to think that we can use our own shampoo. The skin of dogs is different from that of humans, so using our shampoo could dry out your skin, cause irritation or even skin allergies. To avoid all these problems it is important to choose a suitable dog shampoo and not use the ones we have at home since these have not been designed for your skin type.

Error No. 4: do not dry it well

Another of the delicate moments, this time out of the water, is the drying time. If you decide to use a hair dryer it is important to use a small one (the travel ones are very useful) and that you are previously familiar with the sound of the dryer, since the sound is very strong for them and it is easy for them to get scared when they start to work Remember that too It is very important to control the temperature of the dryer (not very hot) and always keep it at a certain distance when we are using it.

If our dog is fearful, or is a small breed dog, it will be easier for us to dry it with a towel. When you get out of the water, cover your dog with a large towel and dry his hair using both hands and making circular movements. For the face you can use a smaller towel, such as a hand towel.

Whether you use a dryer or a towel to dry your dog, do not forget that at the end you should dry your ears well to avoid moisture accumulation, especially if your dog has droopy ears, such as American cockers or beagles.

Error No. 5: Do not control the water temperature

Another thing that we should pay close attention to is the water temperature. An adequate temperature (neither too hot nor too cold) is essential to make the bath experience the most pleasant for our dog. When we bathe our dog it is easy to get distracted, especially if our dog is somewhat nervous and does not stop moving, which can cause us to stop paying attention to the tap and forget about controlling the temperature. If our dog burns because the water temperature is too hot or freezes because it is too cold, it is an experience that he will remember negatively for a long time, And you know what? When you want to bathe it again it will run and the bathrooms at home will be over. To prevent this from happening, always remember to control the water temperature.

How can we prevent our dog from being afraid of water?

Before going on to explain how to bathe a dog with fear of water, let's give some advice, as a preventive measure, to start, from the first moment, a good relationship of our dog with water. These recommendations, which serve both puppies and adult dogs, are as follows:

  • Never force the dog into the water.
  • Do not punish him under any circumstances and in any way.
  • Do not bathe in excess, as it is counterproductive to your health. Let's follow the recommendations of our veterinarian, since the frequency of baths will depend on multiple factors such as the type of mantle or the way of life.
  • Never use water as a punishment method.
  • Always keep calm, as it is the only way to convey tranquility to the dog. If we are nervous, better leave the bathroom for another day.
  • Use only specific products for dogs. If we use others that are not indicated, we can run the risk of causing dermatological problems, which can increase the rejection of the dog in the bathroom.
  • Have everything you need to do the task quickly and efficiently, without leaving the dog alone at any time.
  • Start with a simple wash, with just one application of shampoo.
  • Control the water temperature. The recommendations speak of making the bath with water at about 39 ºC, but it is always better to adjust it to the dog's taste, leaving it at the temperature at which we see it more comfortable.
  • Soaping and pouring water in little compromised areas, such as the legs, although it will depend on the dog, it is something that we must observe, to get closer to the face, which is usually the part where there is more rejection.

Signs of fear of water in our dog

In this section we will expose behaviors that will indicate that our dog is afraid of water. Some will be obvious to us, but others may not be so. It is very important to know the canine language to be able to evaluate at all times dog emotions and know if we are acting properly or if, on the contrary, we are causing a very stressful situation for the animal.

If our goal is to make the dog positively associate the bathroom, be attentive to the symptoms of fear in dogs. We highlight the following:

  • Ears back, shrunken body, dilated pupils and tail between the legs.
  • The animal tries to flee, becomes paralyzed or shows aggressive behavior.
  • It shows many signs of calm, such as licking, yawning or panting.
  • Ee sits down and refuses to enter the bathtub.
  • If we wear it with a collar and leash, it will try to let go.
  • When we get him in, he tries to leave again and again.
  • In his attempt to flee, he throws anything around him and even climbs on us if we are holding him.
  • Sometimes it is the noise of the water coming out of the tap that triggers the dog's fear.
  • Some groan and even howl.

If you recognize one or more of these behaviors, it is likely that you are faced with a case of fear of water and could even find yourself facing a phobia. We will explain below how to bathe a dog with fear of water, applying techniques based on positive reinforcement and chords to a dog that expresses fear.

Tricks for a happy bath

Finally, in addition to the advice we have already explained to establish a good relationship of our dog with water, we will focus on those animals that show fear every time we try to give them a bath. The steps to follow to improve the experience are the following:

  • The first thing we have to work is our attitude. We must treat our dog firmly and safely and be very clear that firmness does not imply, in any case, violence or shouting. Handle it knowing what we do and in a calm way is what you will get convey security and this will make him better accept a situation that he dislikes.
  • On the floor of the bath we have to put a mat or any other non-slip material. This is another factor that will give the dog peace of mind, since without this precaution he would slip, increasing his unease. If we do not have a mat we can perform the same function a large folded towel, so that it is difficult for the dog to remove it with its legs.
  • Before starting the bath we must be able to keep the dog calm inside the bathtub For this we can help each other with caresses, affectionate words or your favorite prizes. We should congratulate our dog when sitting or still. And in this we have to be precise because, if the dog receives his prize when he is, for example, trying to get out of the bathtub, he can understand that we praise his escape attempts. Achieving this point can be complicated if the dog has a badly associated bathtub. It can be interesting to perform several sessions of tolerance in the bathtub before real bathing.
  • Once the previous step is achieved, we will start to open the water. Some dogs will be disturbed at this time by the loud sound. To avoid this we can set the tap to a minimum, and not the shower. It is convenient to have a large glass or a jug nearby to be able to wet and rinse. If so, we will calm the dog again and only then can we begin to wet it. Depending on how it evolves, we will see if it is possible to increase the flow of water and / or get to open the shower.
  • It is important to clear the boat tub or any other element that could fall outside or inside it while we perform any of these movements. Therefore, it is better that we have the shampoo by our side on the floor or leave it on the floor of the bathtub. If something falls and hits the dog or simply scares the noise, we can throw down all the work we have done.
  • We begin to wet our dog by the legs and ascend the chest. There are dogs with fear that calmly and the relaxing effect of hot water end up accepting the bath quite well from this moment. Let's never forget reward him When you are still or sitting. On the other hand, if he becomes restless again, we must start from scratch, trying to keep him still before continuing to wet him. From the chest we go to the back and tail. The last will be the belly and the head. We do not need to wash your face, it can be scary and it is something we can do at the end, passing a wet towel.
  • If the dog wants to remain seated, let's respect it, although that supposes that the washing is not perfect. When he does not show fear we will have time to get him to bathe on his feet.
  • Once wet, although at the beginning it is not a perfect soak (remember that we are learning and now it is more important that you lose your fear before the perfection of the wash), turn off the water and proceed to lather, which is usually a better step accepted. We always keep calm and repeat the pattern at all times: if the dog gets nervous, we stop, calm down and, once achieved, reward.
  • Once you put the shampoo (we can follow the body order given at the beginning to wet the dog), we reopen the water and rinse following the steps we have already taken to soak the dog.
  • Although baths usually require the application of shampoo twice, being a dog with fear we can stay, while not losing it, with a single application, and ending the bath.
  • Drying will be done with towels, removing as much moisture as possible. The dryer can be used if the dog tolerates it. If not, we can follow the same model we have used for the bathroom, that is, reassuring the dog to keep it still, rewarding it when it gets it and stopping when it gets nervous.

With these tips on how to bathe a dog with fear of water we should begin to observe an improvement in the acceptance of the bath by our dog. If not, if we do not get evolution or even if our dog is getting worse, we must seek professional advice from the hand of an ethologist, canine educator or trainer.

If you want to read more articles similar to How to bathe a dog with fear of water?, we recommend that you enter our Basic Care section.

How to bathe your dog?

Before bathing your dog you should check that all the items you will use are at hand. To bathe your pet you will need a brush, cotton balls, shampoo, towels and a bath strap (if necessary for reluctant bathers, you can buy them at pet stores).

At the time of bathing your dog, place a rubber mat on the bottom of the bathtub, to prevent your pet from sliding. Fill the latter with warm water. And do not forget: in the ears of your dog put some cotton balls to prevent water and soap from entering his ears.

Then place the dog in the water, holding it gently but firmly. Use a plastic jug or cup and start wetting your dog from the head down. Keep the water out of your ears and eyes.

Apply shampoo for dogs (never use shampoo for humans) throughout the body and slide the foam from the shoulders to the tail, ending at the head. Rinse well with warm water. Remove the dog from the bathtub. Dry with a towel until wet.

If it is hot and there is sunshine, the dog can be dried outdoors. If not, continue drying your pet with a dry towel or use a pet dryer using a low setting to complete the drying process.

Wash your pet's teeth

And if we talk about hygiene in pets, an important point that you cannot put aside is the cleaning of your teeth. While humans have no excuses, our pets require assistance to maintain proper oral hygiene. Cleaning your teeth regularly will help keep your pet healthy., without bad breath and of course, it will also save you trips to the vet.

Ideally, dogs have their teeth brushed every day, but if you can only find Weekly brushing time will also be very beneficial.

To wash your pet's teeth you need a small and soft toothbrush (preferably one designed especially for dogs) and toothpaste for pets (never use products for humans). If you dare you can also make a homemade pasta. For this you need Mix baking soda with a little water and salt.

Brushing your pet's teeth will not be a simple task but you can accustom your dog in a way that is not a traumatic experience. The first thing you should do is get used to the idea of ​​having your teeth brushed. This can be done by placing your fingers on your gums with a light massage. Then place a small amount of toothpaste on your dog's lips so he gets used to his taste.

When your dog feels comfortable, he is ready to brush. Finally, Apply toothpaste and brush gently with a toothbrush or gauze wrapped around your finger.

A fun bath for the dog

Toys and prizes are appropriate to calm a dog that fears water. Encouraging our furry friend to have a fun time in the bathtub helps, little by little, the dog feels less and less scared during grooming. The rubber objects, waterproof, are appropriate in this situations. It is advisable to start playing with them outside the bathroom and, gradually, bring the playful proposal to the bathtub.

Edible prizes can also encourage the fearful dog to forget about his fear of water. All are tricks that, accompanied by good doses of love, help make the necessary bath routine a pleasant experience and, why not, even fun for the dog.

Tips for bathing an animal with fear of water

The appropriate thing is to make the bathroom a good experience since the dog is a puppy: first toilets are crucial To avoid the fear of water.

Transforming the bathing place into a play area inspires the fear of a fearful dog.

He water must be hot: with a temperature of around 39 ºC.

Avoid the showers and opt for a saucepan to pour the water, little by little, on the body of the animal.

Edible prizes, as well as caresses and words of love, will help a fearful dog to enjoy (or at least tolerate) the bathroom.