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How to Make Bath Time Less Stressful for Your Dog (And You!)

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While some dogs enjoy taking a bath, others act as getting bathed is pure torture. To some dogs, the mere mention of bath time can send them into a panic, making the task challenging and, quite frankly, not a lot of fun for either of you.

Fortunately, there’s hope. With a few simple steps, you can make bath time more bearable for you both. Some dogs might even begin to look forward to it!


Tips for an Easier Bath Time:


Use a non-slip bathtub mat.
When bathing your pooch in the bathtub or shower, try adding a non-slip rubber mat to the bathtub to keep him from slipping and sliding. Sometimes just this simple step can make all the difference in the world. Feeling unsteady and insecure in the tub can be a source of bath time anxiety, causing your pup to avoid the tub altogether.

Use a shower attachment especially for bathing dogs.
The loud noise of a running tap, the constant spray of a showerhead, or the big and sudden splash of water from a cup or bucket could be the cause your dog’s bath anxiety.

Instead, install a shower attachment designed especially for washing dogs. There are a wide variety of shower attachments available that make bathing easier for you and more calming for your dog. Some include brushes in the handheld showerhead that both massage your dog’s skin and get water deep into the coat for a thorough rinse. Others allow you to turn off the flow of water until the moment you’re ready to rinse, right from the showerhead.


Protect eyes and ears from water and soap suds.
Another common source of bath time stress for your furriest family member is water and soap suds in delicate eyes and ears. To protect your buddy from unnecessary anxiety, tuck his ears into a shower cap during the scrub down. Leave his eyes uncovered during most of the bath, just slipping the cap down to cover his eyes during the final rinse.

You’ll have much more success – and avoid painful ear infections – cleaning your pup’s ears after the bath, using a specially formulated ear cleaning solution with a drying agent.

Turn a boring bath into a soothing spa day.
If you make the bath a more rewarding experience, your dog may actually begin to look forward to it. Use skin-soothing dog shampoo and gently massage into your dog’s coat with grooming gloves. These gloves are covered in massaging rubber nubs that not only feel amazing on your pup’s skin, but help to remove shed hair, loosen tangles, and shorten bath time.

Give continual praise and treats during the bath.
Sometimes we get so involved in scrubbing and rinsing that we forget to talk to our dogs through the process. Throughout the entire bath, give your dog praise. Talk to her in a calming, gentle voice. Sing to her. Explain what you’re doing (Example: “You’re such a good girl! Time to rinse your adorable neck!”). She might not understand your words, but will be soothed by your voice.

If your dog is highly food motivated, as many are, offer treats throughout the bath. Even if your dog isn’t super cooperative at first, continue offering tasty treats. Eventually he’ll learn that bath time makes food appear and will begin to settle down.


Follow up bath time with something your dog really loves.
To reinforce the idea that bath time is a good thing for your dog, follow up the event with something your dog really loves. If treats are his thing, save the best treats and yummy chews for after the bath. If going for walks makes your pup’s tail wag, take him for a quick walk around the block once he’s toweled off – this will help his coat to dry faster, too. You can also follow up bath time with a fun game, a soothing massage, being brushed, or whatever it is your dog thinks is awesome. Your dog will learn that, while the bath might not be the most fun, what follows it makes it all worth it!

Save the scarier parts of grooming for another time.
For some dogs, bath time means hours of being scrubbed, poked, prodded, clipped, and snipped. If your dog despises being groomed, space out the process over a few days instead of a marathon of grooming all at once.

Clip your dog’s nails, trim her fur, and clean her ears at different times or on different days than the bath. For dog’s that associate bath time with something scary or uncomfortable like and ear cleaning or a nail trim, separating this part of the grooming process will show them that the bath itself isn’t so bad after all.

Important Bath Time Reminders:

  • Protect the ears. Like humans, dogs also don’t like the weird sensation of water in their ears. Before getting your pooch wet, see to it that you have gently inserted a cotton ball into each of his ears. This will help in reducing your dog’s anxiety during bath time.
  • Use dog shampoos and conditioners. Most shampoos designed for humans are chemical-based or contain ingredients that can be very irritating to your dog’s skin and eyes. Always choose an all-natural and non-irritating dog shampoo or conditioner so skin problems  and irritation can be avoided.
  • Use lukewarm water. Because cold water tends to be too shocking and hot water is uncomfortable (if not dangerous) for your pooch, always use lukewarm or tepid, if not very slightly cool, water during the bath.
  • Praise your dog. When bath time is completed, lavish your furkid with lots of treats and praise for a job well done.

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