01 Apr Time For A Rub-A-Dub-Dub: Bathing Dogs That Hate Baths
You’ve seen videos of dogs that will jump into bodies of water with gusto, wagging their tails whenever it’s time to bathe. You look at your pooch and you wonder why they’re not like that – and they’re probably not the only one. Bath time often kickstarts an unwanted game of chase, with the owner sprinting and diving after the struggling pup that refuses to go back to the tub. Unfortunately, it’s not the end once you’ve caught your pup. What follows is a constant struggle to keep your dog from fleeing, bathwater and soap trailing after them.
As much as you would love to skip the entire ordeal, you simply can’t. Bathing is the bare necessity when it comes to pet care, and as much as it’s not their favourite thing to do, you and your dog need to brave the bathwater, soap and all. Whilst it’s almost impossible to make them love bath time, you can help make baths more tolerable. To help you out, here are a few tips on how to soothe your pet while bathing them.
1. Divert Your Dog’s Attention With Something Else
A very common psychology tactic used by doctors and parents when getting their kids vaccinated is to divert their attention away from the syringes so as not to scare them. Similarly, using a diversion tactic, such as a toy or some food on the door to lick down, will make your pet busy in that activity, allowing you to easily bathe and clean them. If your doggo is highly treat-motivated, they may focus on the delicious treat until bath time is over.
2. Get rid of the showerhead or faucet
When it comes to dogs and bathing, many of them are quite scared of the sound of rushing water itself but not the actual thought or process of getting washed and cleaned. For many of our furry friends, noisy showerheads and faucets may trigger their flight-or-fight response, especially in nervous and anxious dogs.
To clean off your pup in a calm and soothing manner, it’s recommended to switch over to gently pouring buckets of water over their body instead of using a shower or faucet to hose them down.
3. Check the temperature
Let’s face it, most of us shudder at the idea of bathing in hot water in Singapore’s hot and humid weather. Similarly, it’s important to take into account the needs and feelings of your pets too during a bathing situation. Many people hose down their dogs in freezing temperatures, which is the incorrect way of bathing your dog as your dog will feel cold and uncomfortable, making them hate the bathing process. You’ll want to ensure that the temperature of the water is comfortable for your pet.
4. Counterconditioning and desensitisation
When you bring home your adorable dog from the shelter with pet adoption services, often it includes rectifying their past owner’s mistakes. Some pets may develop anxiety due to instilled fear and conditioning. To get rid of this fear and anxiousness, pet owners may need to desensitise and counter condition their pets, which can be a difficult task.
One can start by rewarding their pets with treats once they feel comfortable enough to approach the bathtub or the bathing area. You can further this process by rewarding your pet with additional treats for feeling brave enough to step into the bathtub or bathing area itself. The last step of the conditioning process includes gently pouring water onto your pet and washing them, which will instantaneously be followed by a tasty treat.
The process of desensitisation and counterconditioning can be a cumbersome and slow process. You’ll need to prepare yourself – with tools and also patience – to help your pup acclimatise with something they might fear or are unfamiliar with. If your pup still struggles during bath time, it’s always best to seek the help of a professional veterinary behaviourist who knows how best to approach this issue.
Grooming is one of the must-dos that makes up the foundation of pet care. Bath time is extremely crucial, especially in Singapore’s sweltering and humid weather. Apart from being dirty and smelly, a dirty dog can easily develop a skin infection and if it’s not treated right, it can land you and your dog in a 24 hour vet clinic. So implement these tips to help make bath time a little better.