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How to make bath time less stressful for your dog

Different dogs react to the prospect of having a bath in very different ways. For some splashing about in the water is a fun activity, whereas others merely tolerate it and some can find it to be a source of stress and anxiety.

If your dog hates the thought of a bath it can also become a stressful activity for you, so here are some tips on how to achieve a harmonious bath time for both of you.

If your dog isn’t used to bathing, chances are they won’t warm to it straight away. Getting your pet used to the idea could take time and will require some groundwork and patience from you.

1. Getting used to the atmosphere

If you intend to use your bath to wash your dog, this is a good place to start. Before you even introduce any water, let your pet become accustomed to the area. In a dry bath, put in your dog’s favourite toys and let them play and explore. Be prepared with treats so that they start to associate the bath with getting a reward.

2. Start slowly

When your dog seems comfortable with the bath (this might take a few sessions) you can slowly add a little water. Be prepared for your dog to try and jump out – offer comfort with a calm and soothing voice indicating that it’s no big deal, but don’t try to physically restrain your pet. If you were in an unfamiliar place which starting filling up with water – you’d try to get out too!

3. Praise, don’t punish

Dogs learn by positive reinforcement. This means that shouting at them or trying to physically restrain them won’t work, and it could the problem worse. Instead, use a calming voice and offer their favourite treat as a reward for good behaviour. If your dog starts to associate bath time with getting something that they like, they’re much more likely to tolerate it.

4. Lots of attention

After you’ve attempted this process it’s important to give your dog plenty of attention. They may want to go off and be by themselves for a little while, but be on hand to make a fuss of them and give attention when they want it.

When you do give your dog a full bath it’s best to choose a quiet time when there isn’t much activity going on in the home, and when your dog has recently eaten a meal, as they’re more likely to be calm.

There are also a range of products you can purchase to help keep your dog calm. These usually plug in and release calming pheromones, so they may be worth a try if your pet is still resistant to bathing.

For more detailed tips, check out our article on how to bathe your dog.

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