When I was sitting here this week pondering about the multitude of topics that I could discuss on here, my husband called. I asked “I’m about to write a blog. What should I write about?” He works outside and it’s a rainy humid day here in Richmond, Virginia, so he’s a mess. He replied “Write about taking a bath, because I sure need one right now”.
Little did I know he could be on to something.
I asked a friend of mine “Hey, do you have any pictures of your dog taking a bath?” She laughed out loud and said “It’s a 3-person, all-hands-on-deck procedure to give my dog a bath. There are no free hands to take a picture.”
But let’s be honest, all of our dogs have these kinds of days, and therefore, need to take a bath:
We might see more of them in the spring time, but we have our fair share of rainy days and melting snow in the fall and winter too. Baths are a year-round sport—because, yes, sometimes they require physical ability.
There are a variety of dog behaviors when it comes to bath-time. Some dogs are so excited for baths that it’s a physical sport to keep them OUT of the bathtub—even when we’re merely trying to take our own shower.
Some dogs are so frightened by a bath that they stiffen up or desperately try to jump out. If you’ve got that dog, here are a few tips to make bath-time a little more peaceful!
First, be mindful of you and your surroundings. Dogs are great at reading the body language of people. If you walk around the house so determined to collect shampoo, towels, and a leash as though you are preparing your apocalypse disaster kit, your dog might start to wonder if they should be headed for the hills too. Then when you pick up your dog, plop him down on the bathroom floor, and shut the door behind you both, your dog might start to worry. “The door is shut—no place to escape—Mom just collected all of the disaster kit… what’s happening here?”
Start bath-time out right by taking it slow for your dog. Make sure your dog is comfortable in the bathroom before even starting the bath. Remain calm and encouraging for your dog so that he is as comfortable as possible.
Then when bath time starts, make sure that your dog is comfortable in the tub before even running the water. When you do run the water, the temperature of the water should be comfortable for your dog. Again, make sure you are considerate of what your dog is going through. Although the faucet running lots of water and making strange noises might be a daily occurrence for us, they might be new and slightly unnerving to your dog. Praise your dog when your dog is calmly sitting or standing in the tub. Consider bringing in treats! Our Lickety Stik does a fantastic job of keeping dogs busy while you scrub them down. I have also heard other tricks like spreading peanut butter on the shower wall to keep dogs busy (make sure your walls are clean though!).
Post-bath is really the fun time. Since your dog is now sopping wet, you will probably need at least a few towels to dry him off. Even after a good towel-down, your dog will probably still run around like crazy shaking off all of that water and then may lay down creating a big wet mark. Make sure your dog is in an appropriate place to do that!
If giving your dog a bath in your own tub doesn’t sound up your ally, there are fantastic groomers that are happy to do the job. Contact your local groomer regarding what your dog needs and about your dog’s comfort level with bath-time. Lots of groomers will give your dog a bath while keeping them comfortable.
As I asked around about doggy bath-time, I found it ironic that I could only find pictures of dirty dogs but not any pictures of doggy baths. In fact, I don’t even have a picture of my own dog taking a bath (which is strange—I have a picture of her in every other pose and doing every other activity). Maybe it’s because dogs are so cute when they’re dirty? Or could it really be because bath-time is such a process that we can’t grab the camera? As a trainer, I have accepted a new challenge today—work with my dog so she is comfortable enough that I have enough hands and time to grab a camera and snap a shot of her in a bathtub too. Just one more shot to add to the photo album!