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June 29, 2017

Some dogs are afraid of being bathed. This isn’t necessarily the fault of the groomer, as there are numerous reasons why a specific dog might not like being bathed. Bringing a dog’s fear to the attention of the owner and being able to offer viable solutions for them to assist in addressing these fears shows you care and can really assist in teaching some dogs to learn to like or at least tolerate being bathed. Not all owners will want to take the time to do this, but for those who do, here are some tried and true exercises you can give to clients.

The key here is to start slowly, praising and rewarding positive behavior while not stressing out the dog to the point where negative responses kick in.

Step 1:

Start with the bathtub. No water— just the tub. Take the dog on a leash up to the tub, and praise the entire time. When you get to the tub, give the dog a treat. Walk away with the dog and repeat the process five times. That’s it. Repeat this exercise three times for the first week.

Step 2:

Run water in the tub, put the dog on the leash and walk her up to the tub. Praise the entire time and feed a special treat when you get there. Walk away with the dog and repeat the process. Do this five to eight times. Repeat this exercise three times per week for one to two weeks. When the dog is comfortable being led up to a tub with water running, go to the next step.

Step 3:

Go back to a dry tub. Put the dog on the leash and walk it up to the tub, praising the entire time. When you get to the tub, give the dog a treat and then put the dog in the tub. Most dogs will not like this; praise the dog, pet it and offer a treat in the tub. Continue petting and praising for about 30 seconds. Do this three times per week. When the dog is totally comfortable being put in the tub and standing there, add another 30 seconds. The dog is now in the tub for about a minute. Still OK? Add another minute. If the dog is not OK, stay at one minute for about a week and then go up to two. Praise, treat and make this a fun experience.

Step 4:

Start in the dry tub. Put the dog on the leash and walk it up to the tub, praising the entire time. When you get to the tub, give the dog a treat and then put the dog in the tub. Offer a treat in the tub and praise the dog for about two minutes with occasional treats.

Gently turn the water on. Most dogs won’t like this, but wait for it to calm down and offer praise when it stops trying to get away. You can offer treats. After about 30 seconds with the water on, take the dog out of the tub. Do this three times per week.

When the dog is totally comfortable being put in the tub and standing there with the water on, add another 30 seconds. The dog is now in the tub for about a minute. If it is still OK, add another minute. Not OK? Stay at one minute for about a week and then go up to two. Praise, treat and make this a fun experience.

From here, it is just a matter of letting the dog get a little wet. This can be done by putting the drain stop in the tub so her paws start to get wet while the dog stands there. Praise the dog during this time and reward. You can also put water in one hand and drip it on the dog while praising and feeding with the other hand. Don’t start with water on the face! After a while most dogs will be totally fine with the experience of being in a tub and getting wet.

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