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My dog HATES being bathed. What can I do?

post #1 of 2
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I have a 5 month old pup, and she is a super dog. Very well trained, well behaved, mellow... But holy heck she absolutely hates being bathed. We've had her since 9 weeks old. We did not push the bath thing at first, though she seemed to love to play in our kiddie pool. When she was 12 weeks old she had her first bath at the self-service dog wash in our town. You bring you dog and use their table, warm water sprayers, etc. She freaked out! Howled, moaned, shook... We finished the bath, but it was hard and she was terribly distressed.

Since then she has had two other baths, mainly so that I can get her used to having them. After an extremely muddy romp in the dog park today I gave her a bath and it was the same: terror and whining and howling. She didn't get aggressive, but was very vocal and anxious. She stopped howling when I finished toweling her off (I'm not even going to attempt to use the hair dryer!) but kept whining for a bit after. It took her about 45 minutes to settle down and be truly calm.

I know that most dogs do not need a regular bath, and I'm not planning on giving her baths all that often. But we do a lot of outdoor hiking and live in a wet and muddy area, and some days she is just going to need one, you know? Also, she is 38 lbs at 5 months old, so I imagine she'll not weigh less than 55 lbs or more full grown. I do not want to wrestle with a big, heavy dog every time we have a bath!

How can I help train my dog to tolerate a bath? We've tried slowly introducing her to the bathing area, the water, etc... with tons of treats and positive reinforcement. No good.
Do I just need to commit to doing this every couple of weeks until she gets used to it? And if so, is there a good way to give a dog a bath in a home bathtub? Because $15 per was at the dog-wash place will add up fast...

Thanks!
Edited by tinuviel_k - 11/27/10 at 3:49pm
post #2 of 2

A trick that works for cats and may work for your dog....is to fill the tub first...sometimes it is the sound of the running water that freaks them out.  Make it fun and don't let yourself stress...she will feed off your anxiety of how she is going to react

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