When Fido is afraid of water, showering him becomes so exhausting that we often avoid it.
Especially if bath time causes severe anxiety.
Your dog may be afraid of water because he had a bad experience, or he simply belongs to one of these breeds that dislike water.
The thing is:
Dog coats tend to accumulate dust and dander, which makes them smell bad and in some people, may even trigger allergies.
Setting everything ahead and getting your dog ready can make showering more acceptable, and maybe even enjoyable.
In this post, I’ll teach you how to bathe a dog that hates water.
I’ll also talk about another way you can keep your dog clean that doesn’t involve getting wet.
How To Give A Dog A Bath Without Water?
It’s not practical, nor advisable, to wash your dog very frequently.
But the truth is that some dogs are naturally more foul than others, and spraying your dog with pet perfume doesn’t take care of the bacteria that causes the odor.
You can check out my best dog odor eliminators review if you’re looking for more information, but for those of you who want the straight answer: Paw Choice Dry Dog Shampoo is, in my opinion, the best alternative to a full shower.
This is a gentle shampoo for dogs that don’t require rinsing, so make sure to take it with you where ever you go to keep your dog smelling nice. However, you do have to massage it into the fur for it to be effective, but it’s certainly less work compared to showering your dog.
How To Bathe A Dog That Hates Water? Try These 15 Tips
1. Start As Soon As Possible
It’s better to build good habits than to break bad ones, so start when your dog is young. Begin by doing small steps to avoid overwhelming your dog, after all — you want him to enjoy the process and not the other way around.
2. Wash Your Dog In A Tub
Avoid washing Fido on the ground as it will be a lot easier to control a dog who’s afraid of water inside a closed tub. Plus, a nice warm bath is much more comforting than a stream of water coming out of a hose. A dog pool probably won’t work either.
3. Make Your Tub A Fun Place
Start by giving your dog his food where you will bathe him.
That way, you’ll associate bath time with a more enjoyable activity like eating. You can also give your dog his treats when he’s calm inside the bathtub to increase the positive association between the enjoyment of the treats to having a bath.
Just in case you wondered how to bathe an aggressive dog or a dog that bites.
4. Introduce Fido To The Tub
Before bathing your dog, you want him to feel comfortable in an empty bathtub.
Start by leading your dog to the bathroom using delicious treats, then let him sniff around the tub, and finally — help him to get inside step by step. Your dog might be curious or afraid, either way, let him get used to the new situation.
Keep these sessions under than five minutes to ensure your dog is progressing rather than digressing.
5. Start A Bathing Routine
Dogs are creatures of habits, that’s why having a bathing routine can lessen their stress simply by removing the element of surprise.
So make it a habit of brushing your dog’s hair to remove any loose hair and open mats and tangles before giving him a bath. You can even feed Fido in the bathroom before brushing him.
6. Work On A Shower Cue
Next, you want to repeat the word “bath” while brushing your dog’s hair or feeding him in the bathing area. By associating a certain word with his bath, your dog won’t be caught off guard.
7. Exercise, Exercise, Exercise
A tired dog is a calmer dog, so take Fido for a long walk or a run before bathing him.
Doesn’t matter how you choose to tire out your dog, make sure he returns home feeling hot and exhausted, and after he relieved himself so he won’t have the energy to resist you during baths or do his business inside your tub.
8. Get A Dog Bath Tub
Even if you have a bath at home, but especially if not, a dog bath is the way to go.
The reason is that dog baths are more accessible and faster to use to shower your dog, which can lower stress levels and make the shower more relaxing.
This tub by Flying Pig is perfect for medium to small sized dogs, which happens to be more water-shy than their bigger counterparts. And there’s even a drain tubing included so you can get rid of the wastewater easily.
The bath also comes with four sturdy legs which keep the unit in place even if your dog moves a lot or cling to one side/corner, and also elevate the tub to protect you from back pain.
9. Don’t Rush It
Bathing your dog can take a while, especially if he fights you during the process. Schedule a bath for Fido only when you have free time where you can focus on doing things right and with patience.
For example: Letting your dog get used to the sound of water, getting just the feet wet, and going up from there gradually.
10. Plan Everything In Advance
Prepare your dog’s shampoo and conditioner (don’t use your own), one drying towel on the walls of the tub so that your dog won’t slip on the way out, and another one for covering your wet dog once you’re finished washing him.
You’ll also want to have some treats around in case you’ll decide to reward your dog’s good behavior.
11. Reduce Stress Factors
Bathtubs are slippery, and that makes dogs nervous since they can’t stand up straight, it’s also harder to hold them in one place.
You can ease your dog fear by getting a rubber non-slip bathtub mat, and place it at the bottom of the tub. This little item will improve your dog’s balance which will decrease his bathtub anxiety.
Additionally, a multi-function dog shower head makes it easy to wash your anxious dog at home — it has a gentle spray so your dog will hardly mind it, and you can control everything from the water pressure to the spray setting one-handedly.
This product can attach to any standard showerhead, and the hose is long enough to make sure you have enough reach. Once you’re done with it, you can hang the wand using the included suction cup.
12. Fill The Tub The Right Way
You should fill the tub with no more than a few inches of lukewarm warm water as a full bathtub can worsen your dog’s reaction to water.
Also, don’t forget to turn the water off since running water can raise your dog’s stress levels. Adding a floating toy is a great distraction if your dog seems anxious.
13. Make Bath Time A Good Time
Chew toys are great for reducing anxiety in dogs, so if your dog is into toys — throw a few yellow rubber ducks in the water. You can also bring food into the tub, dogs are extremely food motivated so it might help them relax and enjoy their baths.
14. Give Your Dog Something To Relax
If all of the above doesn’t work, you can always turn to natural remedies. Zesty Paws Calming Bites can reduce your dog anxiety while you bath him.
These flavored chews contain L-Theanine, a relaxing and non-drowsy amino acid, along with Chamomile to relieve your dog’s stress and hyperactivity when he’s in the shower. Other ingredients include Organic Ginger, Passion Flower, and Hemp.
This product works great, and there are two flavors available for dogs who prefer turkey or peanut butter.
15. Rinse And Repeat
My dog hates water too, but the more I bathe him, the simpler it gets.
In time, your dog should get used to having a bath and hopefully, he will feel more comfortable around water, rather than being stiff or shake all along.
Some dogs will never get used to the idea, but with these tips — they will at least be less frightened.