How do I train my dog to enjoy bath time?
Teach your puppy or dog to be comfortable with handling in general, by patting and stroking different parts of their body. Praise and reward them for being calm and allowing you to handle them. Go slowly, patting them on the chest area, shoulders, sides and along the back, gradually working towards other areas such as each leg. Once they’re comfortable with this, try briefly lifting up a paw, one at a time. Overtime you can extend this to gently touching the footpads and nails and also other areas such as the ear flaps.
Continue to praise and reward (e.g. with tasty dog food treats) for calm behaviour and when your dog allows general handling. This will make your dog less likely to react when you touch them in these areas while bathing.
When introducing your dog to bathing, do it slowly and give them plenty of praise and tasty dog food treats for being calm and tolerating the process. This will help your dog to associate bathing with positive things, helping to make the experience pleasant for your dog and easier for you.
You should be calm and speak to them in a positive tone. This will help your dog to be more relaxed. After bath time also be sure to reward your dog with a tasty dog treat so the activity finishes on a good note.
Start by introducing your dog to the bath equipment you’re going to use, one item at a time such as towels, buckets, shampoo containers and hoses. Practise standing on the non-slip mats and reward your dog for standing on the mat. You can also practice standing in the tub but without using any water, this way your dog can gradually get used to being in the tub. Reward with treats while in the tub.
You can also turn on the hose and tap (on low flow) when your dog is nearby so that they can see and hear the running water. Being introduced to bath-related things gradually in a positive and calm way is the best way to train your dog.
Before bath time, you can try going for a nice walk and then, after having a rest when arriving back home, you can try bath time. This way your dog will probably be a bit tired having expended some energy and therefore they’ll be less likely to be energetic during bath time.
Now that your dog has been positively introduced to bath equipment and the tub (if you’re using a tub) you can introduce them to having a bath. Remember to be patient, if your dog gets upset, stop and try on another day.