Dog Training Tips: Giving your dog a bath

Created 11/03/2015 at 01:12 AM

ADHDog got a bath yesterday, after a nice, long, muddy hike, and a wade in some pretty foul-smelling water.

When we got ADHDog from Animal Control, pretty much the first thing he did was poop all over himself in terror, followed by a good 48 hours of anxiety farts. I’m sure we didn’t make him feel any better by dumping him unceremoniously in the tub when we got him home.

We lucked out a bit in that, though ADHDog didn’t LOVE baths, he wasn’t terribly frightened of them either. Either way, he is basically made of steel springs, and we didn’t love the idea of wrestling him into the tub every time we went to wash him, so we came up with a plan. This might hope those of you with food motivated dogs – with a little bit of adaptation, it will probably also serve readers whose dogs like toys as well.

We started (Step 1) by randomly leaving a small pile of kibble and/or treats in the tub, so that every so often when he was brave enough to wander into the bathroom, there would magically be a pile of snacks for him in the tub. After a few weeks, the bathroom was significantly less concerning. Step 2: we practiced closing him in with us, with the water running, stuffing his face with food, and then turning off the water and letting him on his merry way without having had to get in the tub. Then we’d ask him to get in the tub with a few inches of warm water in it (Step 3), still with copious treating, but wouldn’t worry about washing or drying him off – some wet pawprints on the carpet were an acceptable price, for us, to get a dog happy for a bath. Step 4 was to float a small Tupperware in the tub for him to chase around the tub, dropping a few treats in every so often, as we actually washed him. In the course of two washings, or about a month of on-and-off desensitization, we’ve gotten to the point that we (conveniently?) have a problem getting him OUT of the tub when he’s done with his bath, because he keeps hopping back in and waiting for more treats.

And here we are all wrapped up after our bathtime adventure!