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Dog getting bath.

6 Tips for Bathing a Nervous Dog

If your pup is like most pups, he enjoys getting dirty. Most dogs love rolling in the grass and dirt or plopping down for a good soak in the mud. Even dogs who do nothing but lie around all day still get stinky. Unfortunately, most dogs don't enjoy getting clean. In fact, bath time may be one of the most difficult tasks for you and your pet, particularly if he is scared of baths. Here are some tips that may help.

1. Distract your dog with peanut butter

If your dog is just a little hesitant to get in the tub, peanut butter may do the trick. You can try plopping a glob of peanut butter on the wall of the shower just before bath time. With any luck, your dog will gladly hop in the tub to lick the peanut butter. You can use this opportunity to bathe and rinse your dog with no complaints.

2. Go slowly

If peanut butter doesn't do the trick, try making bath time more peaceful so your dog is accepting of the situation. You may think throwing your dog in the tub and going as quickly as possible will get the task over quickly, but that's likely to cause nothing but stress for both of you. Instead, try introducing her to the bath slowly. You might start by walking her by the bathroom several times a day. Then you could try throwing a toy into the bathroom to see if she will retrieve it. Eventually, work your way to the tub itself (without water). Once your dog will calmly enter the tub, you can try running the water and proceed from there.

3. Reward good behavior with treats

As you help your dog adapt to bath time, remember to reward with treats every step of the way. If she makes it into the bathroom without balking, give her a treat. Once she's in the tub, give another treat. Eventually, she will start associating bath time with treats, and she will be less reluctant to get in the tub. In fact, she may start loving baths instead!

4. Use a non-slip mat

Your dog's paws are sensitive, and dogs like to feel steady. A slippery bath tub can induce stress and anxiety because your pup doesn't feel like they can stand on their own. In fact, they may actually be afraid of drowning. To ease this fear, add a nonslip mat to the floor of your tub. If you don't have one available, a folded towel should do the trick.

5. Move the bath outside

If your dog already has a phobia of the bathroom, you may need to try a change of scenery. Move the bath outside instead, where he may be more comfortable. You can use a garden hose and a kiddie pool. If you're worried the hose water is too cold, try adding a bit of warm water from the indoor tap to the kiddie pool. Many dogs associate pools with playtime, making baths a lot less stressful in this setting.

6. Ask your vet for help

If all else fails, ask your vet for more recommendations. He or she may be able to prescribe a sedative to help keep your dog calm during baths. You can also ask about using a waterless shampoo so you can skip baths entirely. Whichever method you choose, remember that bathing alone isn't enough to keep parasites away. You should also use a monthly treatment like Revolution to protect your pet.

Listed below are some links of helpful products and resources as referenced in the article: