Dog Bath Anxiety

Have you ever noticed that dogs will go out of their way sit in a puddle, love playing at the beach, run up at full speed and jump in the lake; and don’t seem to be scared of water in general but when it comes to bath time; they go to pieces.

There are a few reasons for this and today we will look at why your beloved pooch suffers from dog bath anxiety and what you can do to make bath time less stressful for both you and your dog.

Today we will look at ways to reduce the stress and anxiety associated with bath time for your dog with the following helpful tips – Enjoy!

The Best Dog Bathing Tip:

More Ways to Bath your Dog to Reduce Dog Bath Anxiety.

The Best Dog Bathing Tip.

The first and probably the best dog bathing tip was the one I picked up from a professional dog groomer some years ago. When you think about it, it makes perfect sense. Even if you just apply this one dog bathing tip, it will make the world of difference to bath time and reduce your dog’s anxiety substantially. It’s the water from above tip.

Water From Above.

A lot of dogs might not seem to mind the rain, but most will take shelter when it is raining. The reason for this is that dogs don’t like water coming from above.

They are quite happy to get their feet wet and even their belly, they might even be tempted to roll around in a puddle on a hot day. The thing is, that they have a level of control of how wet they become and this is chosen by them.

When you give a dog a bath, they have no control and feel anxious because the water is coming from above and they are not sure what to expect.

shower head for dog bathIn practice it is pretty easy to implement. Just remember to have the flow of water coming from the side and keep the pressure of the water low. You can buy small shower head on a hose that does the trick brilliantly.

You can bath a smaller dog in a laundry trough and larger dog in the tub. These types of shower head only cost a few dollars and are available at drug stores and supermarkets. If you only want to bath your dog outside, buy a hose attachment that can be used on a spray, like a shower head.

More Ways to Bath your Dog to Reduce Dog Bath Anxiety.

Where to bath your dog.

Choose the bath tub or laundry sink to bath your dog. Which you choose to use will be dependent on your dog’s size. On warmer days you may want to wash your dog outside using a garden hose on low pressure.

Water Temperature.

Water temperature can be a major factor in your dogs fear of bath time. The water should be temped. That is that you can not feel it as hot or cold, test the temperature of the water on your wrist before applying it to your dog.

Anti Slip Protection.

Another reason why your dog fears bath time is that they do not feel safe. Dogs like to be sure footed and any risk of slipping is bound to make them more anxious. You can use an anti slip bath mat or just use a towel in the base of the bath and this will make your dog feel more safe and secure.

How to apply the water when you give your dog a bath.

The best thing you can do when bathing your dog is to start wetting their feet first and slowly work up the legs, then under the belly, across the back and finally over the top of the head. Be careful not to have the water running to strong and do not ever have the water running over the snout or eyes.

It is much better to wash the snout and around the eyes with a wash cloth and to never have running water around those areas. If you do run water directly over the dogs face they will panic. You will also need to be careful not to run any water in your dogs ears. Water in the ear canal can lead to infection.

Your Approach.

When bathing your dog always be in a good mood, be calm and praise your dog constantly. Comments like “good boy” in a calm consistent voice will help your dog relax. If your dog tries to jump up or get out of the bath, understand that this is their response to a situation they feel they have no control over.

Just say “No, get down” in a calm and voice, lowering your tone so they know that you are not pleased. As soon as they get down, or you help them to get down and back in the bath, praise them again. This way they will be able to determine what you expect of them.

Dog Shampoo’s.

There are a number of good dog shampoo’s available. I use one that is designed to reduce any irritation to the eyes and is also an organic formula.

Even though I’m really careful not to get shampoo near the dog’s eye area, they can sometimes move suddenly or shake in the bath and there is the chance of getting shampoo in the eyes. An organic formula can reduce the risk of post bath itching.

Have you ever bathed your dog and ten minutes later he is rolling around in the dirtiest patch in the garden he can find? The reason your dog is doing this may be because he is itchy, this might be because you have stimulated his skin by rubbing and washing his coat or it could be because the shampoo might have irritated his skin and he is trying to get some relief.

If your dog is rolling around in the grass or in the dirt just after bathing then try using an organic formula dog shampoo to reduce post bath itching.

Coat Conditioners.

Coat conditioners can be used if you choose and are best for long haired dogs. They will hep get rid of tangles in the dog’s coat and can make the post bath brush much more comfortable for your dog.

Coat conditioners can be a creme rinse that is washed out, spray in conditioners or “leave in” liquid solutions. I use the creme rinse out type so it helps to get out the tangles and there is nothing left on the dogs skin that may potentially cause itching or irritation.

Drying Your Dog.

There are two schools of thought on drying dogs after a bath. Some people believe that it is important to completely dry the dog with a hair dryer, others believe that dogs should only be towel dried and let nature take care of the rest. If you have show dogs, then they will need to learn to tolerate a hair dryer, but for normal family dogs towel drying and running around in the fresh air is just fine.

Dogs will naturally shake their whole body when wet to get rid of the weight of the water in their coat. It is a natural instinct for them to shake. Immediately after a bath, wrap you dog in a towel and take them outside or some other place where they can have a good shake. Your dog will usually shake at least three times after a bath. After they have finished shaking then just dry the outer coat with a towel by blotting up the excess water and by blotting around the face gently.

After Bath Playtime.

When you give a dog a bath they will most likely be feeling outside their comfort zone and a little unsure. The post bath playtime is essential to help them dry off and give you the opportunity to re-connect with your dog. Having some play, either inside or in the yard will distract them until they are almost dry, it is fun for both of you and your happily distracted dog will be less likely to go and take a roll in the mud.

How Often to Bath your Dog.

The jury is still out on this. Most vets say that if you bath your dog every two weeks that is fine, however our shitzu, Rascal, always seems to be getting in grubby situations so I choose to bath him weekly, where as our older dog Jack, who is a border collie, is not as active now and I only need to bath him every two to three weeks.

So there you have some easy to implement dog bathing tips that can help you when you give your do a bath. With these dog bathing tips you will be able to minimize any dog bath anxiety.


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  1. Hi Bev,

    I’ve always wondered about dog shampoo’s and whether some of the chemicals in it will harm our dog’s skin, would be interesting to find out the biomedics behind it!

    • The Puppy Persuader says:

      Hi Sean,

      This is exactly the reason why I use organic shampoos and coat conditioners. If I wouldn’t use it on myself – I wouldn’t use it on my dogs.

      You can usually tell if there are harsh chemicals from the smell of the shampoo and if there is any irritation to your skin while washing your dog.

      It is always best to buy dog shampoo’s that list the ingredients – then you know that manufacturer has nothing to hide and you can look up the ingredients online.

      Thanks for your comment!

      • Some of the chemicals to look out for are Sodium Laureth Sulfate and Propolene Glycol… two which are often in human products as well, but are both serious skin irritants! SO definitely great advice to avoid dog bath anxiety by using organic shampoos and conditioners!
        Tegan Hadley recently posted..Yellow Prom DressesMy Profile

        • The Puppy Persuader says:

          As you mentioned Tegan, these chemicals are used in many products and are basically poison.

          I don’t know how these companies can sleep at night knowing that they are risking not only animals health and well-being but these chemicals are also found in soaps, shampoo’s, conditioners and toothpaste for people as well.

          It pays to be informed!!

  2. Great advice on dealing with your dog’s bath anxiety. Having previously worked as a vet nurse, I have seen my fair share of dogs that would show signs of anxiety as soon as they became aware of what was going to happen. I found the 2 best things that helped were my approach – lots of calm encouragement; as well as, which you explain beautifully, how you apply the water.
    Mood Disorders recently posted..Teenage Depression – What Every Parent Should KnowMy Profile

    • The Puppy Persuader says:

      Thanks for your comment Mood Disorders,

      It’s not rocket science, it’s just basic common sense. But if you do not know why your dog panics at bath time and has dog bath anxiety, then anyone might just suspect that the dog doesn’t like a bath.

      I have been using these methods for years – when I go an grab a towel and say to Rascal “bath time” he immediately runs into the bathroom with his tail wagging. I don’t know if he actually enjoys his bath, but he knows there will be fun and playtime for half an hour after the bath.

      It seems to work a treat, when he first came to live with us (8 months old) he was totally terrified of the bath and it was a big job to get him to trust that being bathed was ok.

  3. Terrific advice. I had no idea that the water should not come from above, even though it makes perfect sense. Our dog is no longer with us but he used to stand still while having a bath even though he obviously hated it. My husband would carry him outside and once he had a big shake he was okay.

  4. I don’t have a dog now but we bred springer spaniels when I was a kid.
    I can’t remember ever shampooing our dogs. They did get very dirty because we lived on a farm, but they just used to jump in the local trout pond for a swim and clean up that way. Then they’d shake off the excess water and soak everybody within 100 metres – happy days 🙂
    Jan Littlehales recently posted..Easy Cranberry Sauce Recipe – in Ten MinutesMy Profile

  5. Great advice for bathing an anxious dog. We bath our little dog in the laundry tub and even though she doesn’t like it, she will stand still. I always talk softy to her and am calm as this definitely helps. Same with clipping there nails, if you are calm and gentle, they will stay calm as well.
    Jackie Stenhouse recently posted..Merial Frontline Plus Flea and Tick ControlMy Profile

  6. So good to read about how to bath a dog, with natural products, and to find out why dogs roll in dirt after having a bath!

    Lisa Wood recently posted..Doing The Same Thing Expecting A Different ResultMy Profile

  7. Hi Puppy Persuader 🙂
    Wow, your dog bath tips are amazing!
    You’re really showing your knowledge – not only that, but your love for dogs and caring nature.
    Thank you, and Well Done!
    Lina recently posted..WIN: $50 Hamper Gourmet Cookies, Made With Love.My Profile

  8. I think it time for bathing my dog 🙂 thanks for these great tips!
    Ravit recently posted..Best colors for small roomsMy Profile

  9. These are great tips from The Puppy Persuader on Dog Bath Anxiety. I never knew that there are so many different reason why dogs have a hard time taking a bath. Our dog always loves to roll and run around the house when she is done. I usually put a towel down on the floor for her to roll on if it is to cold for her outside. Even after she goes swimming (which she loves) she rolls in the tall grass or even dirt to dry off. I love watching her do it.

    Thanks for the great tips!

  10. My dogs simply hate baths, or water of any kind. come to think of it, my cat ain’t too fond of water either…
    Bizz the bed bug guy recently posted..Got any brown recluse spider pictures you would like to post online? Here’s the place…!My Profile

  11. Your post provides great tips especially for dog lovers. Many are having dogs as pet thus many are having trouble when it comes to bathing their dogs. Dogs really seem scared when bath time comes. With your post, a lot of people will be informed about the dos and dont’s in taking care of pet dogs especially in bathing them.

  12. My dog loves a cold bath in the summer. But when the winter comes, he LITERALLY cannot hear the word “bath”.

    When we say the word “bath” in front of him and it’s cold he just start running and hide himself down my bed, lol.