How to Get Your Dog to Love Bath Time

It is a sight to see when a dog is more wary of water than your typical house cat. For some dogs, bath time is hiding time or a front row seat to the puppy dog choir. So, what can you do to help alleviate the fear and make your favorite canine happy for bath time? Well, these doggy bath time tips are here to help you and your furry companion enjoy the suds as much as the mud.

Finding a Happy Medium: When You Should Bath Your Pup

Some dog breeds don’t need to be bathed as often as others due to the type of fur they have, specifically wire-haired dog breeds. Too many baths can also impact your dog’s skin and make it susceptible to rashes and infections. By finding a happy middle for you and your pet, you can help make bath time less stressful.

Generally, unless you own a high maintenance dog breed, you don’t need to bathe your dog.

But if you feel you must or are required to bathe your canine friend then you should bathe it either once a week or once a month. Long-haired breeds like Maltese, Yorkies, Afghans, and Shitzus require weekly baths and grooming. Wire-hairs and other breeds are good with having a bath once or twice a month.

Bathtub Preparations

A few things you should include:

  • A non-slip bathmat on the bottom of your shower or tub
  • A pitcher or cup for scooping water
  • Plenty of dog treats
  • Your dog’s favorite toy
  • A pet sprayer attachment or a shower head extension
  • If you are bathing your dog once a month, use your dog’s specific shampoo for its size or you can use baby shampoo.
  • If you are bathing your dog often, then you should use a soap-free shampoo, moisturizing shampoo or dog shampoo that is meant for sensitive skin.

Getting Your Dog Over the Fear of Bathing

Some dogs have a fear of bath time for many reasons. Some don’t like the deep water, some may suffer trauma from a past home, or they simply don’t like hot baths. Whatever the fear or reason, your pup can easily overcome it with a lot of patience, understanding, time, and bathing attempts.

Once you have everything you need for your dog’s bath it is time to enact operation: bathe the pooch.

Warming the Good Boy Up

This method uses essential oils and calming tactics like treats and toys to encourage your dog into the bathroom and through the bathing process. If this method doesn’t work, there are others you can try.

  • Exercise your dog before their bath by playing or going for a walk till they are tired
  • Prepare the bath water to a warm or lukewarm temperature and fill it to about a quarter or half full. Place a towel on the edge to help your dog get into the tub. Make sure you have a non-slip bathmat at the bottom of your tub or shower. Use essential oils that are puppy approved to help soothe your dog.
  • Bring your dog in calmly and close the door. Use pets, encouraging words, treats, or a toy to comfort your dog.
  • Once your dog is in the tub, reward them and then start the bathing process gently while praising them. Using an extended shower head or pet sprayer make sure you avoid getting water in their ears, eyes, and nose. Do not spray your dog with running water!
  • After you finish washing your dog you will need to keep them warm. Use plenty of towels to get them dry and reward them with either pets or a treat.
  • Once they are either completely dry or damp you can let them exit the bathroom.

Remember some dogs might be avoiding bath time for other reasons such as sore joints, stomach pain/abdominal pain, or other health problems.

When to Bring in The Professional Groomers

Sometimes, no matter how hard you try, your dog just won’t go into the tub or shower. This is where having a professionally licensed groomer comes in handy. You don’t want just anyone handling your fur baby, so it goes without saying you should research for a reliable dog groomer beforehand. Check with neighbors for any groomer recommendations.


What do you think?

Written by Laura Krill


  1. My poor Tasha, God rest her soul, was scared “shitless” of any type of water except rain water. At the lake, she would not even go wading in the water. So a bath for her was out of the question. But as far as cleanliness she rarely scratched herself and never smelled bad and also never dug a hole. The same goes for my first dog, Princess, a Shetland sheepdog who would circle around a puddle of rainwater so as not to get her paws wet. As for Belle, my miniature American Eskimo, she did not mind a bath at all. But I still enjoyed and will make a copy of your tips and tricks for my next dog and his eventual bathtime.