Use this trainer’s three tips to take the stress out of your dog’s bathtime

Dog sat in a bath getting washed
(Image credit: Getty)

Picture the scene: there’s mud all over the floor, water sprayed up the walls, and scratch marks down both your arms. This might sound like some sort of battleground, but it is in fact the aftermath of a dysfunctional doggy bathtime. 

If this sounds all too familiar to you, keep reading. If you’ve tried giving your pooch the best dog treats to lure them into the bath and that hasn’t worked, then look no further. The experts at JW Dog Training have shared three tips to help you wash your mucky pup without the splashing and crashing that usually comes with it. 

“Bathing and grooming can be an important need for our dogs, and they can also, unfortunately, be stressful,” the trainers say. “Taking steps to reduce stress makes bath time easier on everyone. A big theme here is planning ahead and doing proactive training in between baths and grooming.”

Look below to learn three easy ways to make bath time a breeze and help your pet clean up their act. So, the next time they decide to play in a puddle or (if you’re really unlucky) roll in a pile of poop, you needn’t fear the “b” word. 

1) Create a positive association 

 If your dog isn’t a big fan of bath time, try pairing this activity with something you know they love. This could be a treat, toy or just some affection.

“We pair bathtime with something our dog loves to create a positive association,” JW Dog Training explains. “We prepare a lick mat with tasty stuff smeared on it for our dog to enjoy while we bathe him.”

The trainers like to use one of their pet’s favorite treats (cream cheese) to distract them from the potentially stressful bath time experience. By doing this, their dog becomes occupied by the lick mat, leaving them to clean their pup in peace. 

2) Use easy-to-use bathing products  

Some aspects of bath time will be down to trial and error; working out what your pup does and doesn’t like. Try finding a cleaning product that not only works well, but is also practical to use and preferred by your pup. The JW Dog Training team recommends trying a bar soap rather than a bottled product as this can be used to “get the job done quickly and with as little restraint as possible”.  

3) Learn from past bath times and use proactive training

If you’ve encountered problems with specific parts of the cleaning process in the past, JW Dog Training says you can learn from these experiences to make your next bath run a little more smoothly. Identify areas your dog doesn’t like, then find a way to create a positive association with these activities using proactive training. 

“We take note of any parts of the process that our dog struggled with and we make a plan for proactively training around that issue before our next bath. Proactive training around bathtime skills can go a really long way.”

For example, if your dog doesn’t like getting into the tub, you could give them one of their favorite treats during this part of bath time. 

However, if problems do persist, JW Dog Training ends by saying: “If you’re struggling with your dog’s grooming needs, be sure to consult with a qualified professional.”

Harry Bullmore

Having grown up on farms in rural south west England, there has rarely been a moment in Harry’s life when his home hasn’t been filled with a cacophony of animal noises. From dogs, cats, hamsters and rabbits to chickens, goats, tortoises and a particularly mischievous lamb, he has always enjoyed being surrounded by a wide variety of pets. Currently, he enjoys living in the (comparatively quiet) company of his one-year-old cavachon, Archie. As a writer, he started his journalistic career in 2018 as a reporter earning bylines in more than 70 regional and national UK newspapers over the next three years. After this, he began writing for magazines, producing features and reviews for titles including Men’s Health, Good Housekeeping, Elle and Esquire.