Dog Grooming

How to Bathe a Dog That Hates Water


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Most dogs hate water, so you’re not alone in this situation. While some dogs tolerate being in water more than others, it can still be an unpleasant experience during bath time. Since dry shampoo can only go so far, especially with active dogs who love to play dirty outside, this article offers several options for how to bathe a dog that hates water.

Why Some Dogs Hate Water

First, let’s understand the hatred some dogs have for water. Just like humans, dogs hate what they fear. A dog’s fear of water comes from confusion about what to do in it. Dogs thrive on land because that’s all they know from the time they are born. This means that they simply don’t know what they should do when their feet aren’t on solid ground. It’s a dog’s anxiety that leads to fighting to get out of the water.

What about dogs who love water? Genetics plays a role in a dog’s behavior toward the water. Dogs, like Chesapeake Bay Retrievers, love water even if they haven’t been exposed to it. There’s an innate attraction to water that is passed down from one doggy generation to another. Again, just like humans – some love the water and some don’t like it.

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Now that you know why your dog may fear or just not like water, let’s dive into how to bathe a dog that hates water.

bathing a dog that hates water

How to Bathe a Dog That Hates Water

The following are how dog owners can bathe a dog that hates water.

Choose a Calm Time of Day

The evening may be the best time of the day for bath time, especially if your pup has been busy all day. It’s when he/she may be the most tired, so not as difficult.

Other good times are:

  • After playtime outside or a long walk.
  • Before your pup usually takes a nap.
  • After a car ride that has tired him/her out.

Increase Water Temperature

Many dogs are sensitive to water temperature so use warm water or lukewarm water. Play around with the warm water in the tub to see how your pooch responds to the changes. You may just find he/she calms down when it gets warmer or cooler.

Pet parents who want to use hose water, which is normally cold water – it’s best to bathe your dog during the summer months to make it more pleasant.

Give Regular Baths

Provide frequent baths so your fur baby can get used to bathing. Frequent baths can decrease your dog’s fear, making bath time much more tolerable.

Avoid the Dog’s Face

While this may be difficult, especially in a tub, it can help to avoid a dog’s face during the bath. Most dogs keep their eyes open even when water splashes on them and that can cause discomfort, especially when dog shampoo gets inside of them.

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Use Calming Dog Shampoo

Many dog shampoos have essential oils and hemp oil in them now to decrease dog anxiety during baths. Try ones that have lavender in them, which is known to ease tension for dogs AND humans.

Check out this natural dog shampoo.

Praise Your Dog

Say, “Good dog!” regularly throughout the bath. It may not seem like your dog is listening because he/she is so distraught but it does help. Remember to say “Good dog!” in a calm but pleasant/positive voice because that’s what your pooch understands.

Keep the above in mind, as your pup will also respond to frustration in your voice making him/her much more anxious.

Turn Off the Water

The sound of running water can be distressing to your pup. Since you need the water to run when rinsing off your dog’s coat, consider investing in an attachment to your bathtub that sprays the water and has an off-and-on switch. These extensions are usually much quieter than running water.

Use Peanut Butter

No, not on your dog’s fur, but on the side of the tub. This will keep him/her occupied while you’re washing your dog’s body. Just be sure you have enough room to move around because it will be hard to get your pup to stop licking once started.

Give Treats During and After

Having treats available near the bathtub to give him/her occasionally during the bath will create positive associations with dog baths.

Put Down a Rubber Mat

Dogs slip just like humans and it’s just as scary for them. To decrease a dog’s fear of water, have something for your pup to cling to in the tub. It will also save your tub from any damage claws can do.

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Use a Warm Fluffy Towel

Dogs love the time you spend AFTER the bath wiping off with a big fluffy towel like the Dirty Dog Shammy. Again, just like us. Choose a towel that is absorbent but feels good to your dog.

Try the Bissell Bark Bath Dual

The Bissell Bark Bath Dual AH-MAZING. No bathtub is needed! It’s like a steam cleaner for your dog – and it cleans your carpet too! Just place the dog shampoo inside of it, turn it on, and rub it on your dog’s coat. It gets down to the skin and leaves your dog nice and clean.

bathe a dog that hates water

Pet Owners: Make Bath Time a Pleasant Experience for You and Your Dog

Making the bathing process a positive experience can greatly help pet owners who have a dog that hates water. Try out the tips on how to bathe a dog that hates water to see what works best for you and your best fur buddy.

Frequently Asked Questions

[sc_fs_multi_faq headline-0=”h3″ question-0=”Is there a way to wash a dog without water?” answer-0=”Yes! You can use dog wipes or rinseless shampoo. You can also you deoderizing sprays if it’s just the smell you’re trying to get rid of. ” image-0=”” headline-1=”h3″ question-1=”How do you bathe an aggressive dog in water? ” answer-1=”It’s best to bathe an aggressive dog in water with the help of someone else. A muzzle can keep everyone safe from bites and a leash can help control the dog during the washing process. ” image-1=”” count=”2″ html=”true” css_class=””]


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