How to Make a Puppy Love Bathing

Some dogs love the bath.
Some dogs love the bath. (Image: Chris Amaral/Photodisc/Getty Images)

Though it won’t kill your dog to never bathe him, it probably will make life more pleasant for both of you if you can give him a bath. Some dogs smell worse than others, or sometimes dogs roll in unpleasant-smelling substances, making a bath necessary. If your dog loves being bathed instead of running the other direction when you mention the word “bath,” the experience will be more pleasant for both of you. It’s easiest to train your dog to love bathing when he’s still a puppy.

Right Frame of Mind

You need to be in a positive mind-set about bathing your dog before you begin, and your dog needs to be in one, too. Accomplish this by walking your dog before the bath, says Cheri Lucas, dog behaviorist, writing in Cesar’sWay, the website of Cesar Millan, the Dog Whisperer. A walk gets out a dog’s pent up energy and stress.

Make the Tub Appealing

Some dogs hate the bath or are afraid of it, and some pups put up with being bathed. Your goal is to have a dog who loves the bath and looks forward to the experience. Colleen Koch, a veterinarian and certified trainer, encourages making the tub or sink appealing to your puppy. Dogs rarely like cold porcelain, so put down a bath mat or a bath towel, says Koch. When your dog gets near the mat, give him a treat. When he gets on the mat, give him another treat. You want your dog to associate the tub with good experiences.

Getting in the Tub

The first time your puppy gets in the tub, let him stand in it with you sitting outside the tub next to him. Pet him to make him feel comfortable. Some people feed their puppies in the bathtub to calm them further. Once he is calm, take him out of the tub. You next will desensitize him to water. While he is near the tub, turn on the faucet slowly so water is dripping out. Have him watch this happening while you pet him. Then increase the water speed. Turn off the water, and let the dog get back in the tub. Turn on the faucet, but don’t get him wet yet. He is still getting used to the water and being in the tub.

Get Him Wet

Run lukewarm water that would be comfortable for your dog. With the water running, let his feet get wet and see how he responds. Once he is OK with his feet being wet, slowly get his legs wet and progress to the body, being gentle all the while. Wash his head, neck and ears last. Don’t use shampoo this first time because you need to stop the process immediately if he becomes uncomfortable at any time. If he is covered with shampoo, you can’t do that. After he is successful with the water-only bath, you can bathe him using shampoo. Make sure you use a dog shampoo instead of your shampoo because some of the additives in human shampoo might strip the natural oils from your dog’s coat.

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