How to Bathe a Dog Who is Afraid of Water


Dogs generally like water, but not everyone wants to bathe: shower, shampoo, rinse and dry. We could find ourselves in front of a dog afraid of water, and then these baths could become torture for him and us. How to bathe a dog that won’t let you?

In this article, we will explain how to bathe a dog afraid of water.If you’re in this circumstance, don’t panic and don’t miss our advice to be able to transform this moment of “crisis” into a peaceful, if not pleasant, moment.

How to prevent your dog from being afraid of water

Before explaining how to bathe a dog who is afraid of water, we will give you some tips on how to approach the dog, both puppy, and adult, to water and start creating a good relationship with this element:

  • Never make your dog go into the water against his will.
  • Do not punish him under any circumstances or in any way.
  • Do not wash it excessively. Follow your vet’s recommendations, as the frequency of baths will depend on many factors such as coat type or lifestyle.
  • Never use water to punish him.
  • Stay calm, this is the best way to give your dog peace of mind. If you are nervous, it is best to wait and wash your dog another day.
  • Use only specific products for dogs. If you use other unsuitable products, you risk causing skin problems, which will increase your dog’s refusal to bathe.
  • Have everything you’ll need within easy reach so that bathing is quick and efficient, and never leave your dog alone.
  • Start with a simple wash, with just one application of shampoo.
  • Check the water temperature. Generally, the water temperature is recommended to be around 35 ºC, but it is always better to adapt it to the dog’s tastes.

Symptoms of fear of water in dogs

This paragraph will discuss the behaviors that indicate that our dog is afraid of water. Some will be obvious, while others may not be as obvious. It’s crucial to understand canine body language in order to decipher our four-legged pal’s feelings.

If our goal is to get the dog to associate bathing with something positive, we need to pay attention to fear symptoms in dogs :

  • Ears back, squatting, dilated pupils and tail between the legs.
  • The animal tries to escape, becomes paralyzed, or exhibits aggressive behavior.
  • It shows many clear signs, such as licking, yawning, or panting.
  • He refuses to enter the bathtub.
  • Once in the tub, try to get out.
  • In his attempt to escape, he throws everything around him into the air and tries to climb over us if we hold him.
  • Sometimes, the sound of water coming out of the tap triggers fear in the dog.
  • Some whine and even howl.

If you understand one or more of these behaviors, your dog is probably afraid of water or may even have a real phobia.

Tricks for a happy bathroom

Before starting, it is essential to ensure you have adequate space for your dog to bathe. If not, we can try a self-service dog wash. In some of these facilities, we can find dog trainers who can advise us and help us lose our four-legged friend’s fear of water. Let’s see what to do if our dog is afraid of water.

1. Make them feel confident

The first thing we need to work on is our attitude to create a safe and relaxed environment. We must treat our dog with confidence and delicacy altogether, avoiding violence and screaming. Seeing us calm and confident will instill confidence in the dog and make him accept the situation better. Likewise, it is essential to avoid loud noises or any condition that can make the dog nervous.

2. Use a non-slip mat

We will need to put a non-slip mat on the tub’s floor because slipping and falling make the dog nervous. If you don’t have a rug, you can use a large folded towel.

3. Reassure him in the bathtub

Before starting the bath, we need to keep the dog calm in the bathtub. To do this, we can help each other with caresses, loving words, or your favorite treat. We should congratulate our dog when he is sitting or standing. And in this, you have to be specific because if the dog receives his snack when trying to get out of the tub, he may understand that we are rewarding his escape attempts.

4. Slowly open the tap

When we turn on the tap, some dogs may get agitated. To avoid this, we will have to reduce the intensity of the water to the maximum. It is convenient to have a large glass or jug ​​at hand to soak and rinse our four-legged friend. If the dog is still restless, we will try to calm him down again with some treats or kind words, and only then can we start getting him wet. We’ll decide whether or not to raise the water’s strength based on how the scenario develops.

5. Avoid falling objects

It is essential to keep away any shampoo, soap, or items that could fall outside or inside the tub. Therefore, we will place the shampoo next to us or on the bathtub floor. If something falls, it can strike or scare the dog.

6. Wet it from bottom to top

We will start wetting the dog’s paws, then the chest. For some dogs, lukewarm water relaxes a lot, so they accept a bath from now on. Reward him only when he is standing still or sitting. If, on the other hand, he gets stressed, we will have to start over, trying to make him sit still before continuing to wet him. This is especially important so that you do not associate the bathroom with negative experiences. If he is nervous and we force him to continue with the bathroom, the situation will get worse. Remember that it is always essential to promote a relaxed atmosphere.

From the chest, we will move on to the back and tail. The last parts will be the belly and the head. We do not need to wash his face, as he may get scared, and we will still be able to do it at the end, bypassing a wet towel. If the dog wants to sit, let’s respect him, even if it means that we won’t be able to wash him ideally in all corners. When he gets used to it, and he is no longer afraid, we can bath him by making him stand up.

7. Soap it calmly

Once wet, we will close the water and apply the dog shampoo. We will always remain calm, and if the dog gets nervous, we will stop, reassure him, and, once calmed, we will reward him.

8. Rinse it

Once the shampoo is applied, we will open the water again and rinse it in the same order we wet it in the beginning. Although one usually should lather twice, being a dog afraid of water, we can be satisfied with only one application.

9. Dry it

We will use a towel to dry it, trying to remove as much moisture as possible. You can use a hairdryer if the dog tolerates it. If not, we will reassure him, reward him for calming down, and stop when he gets nervous.

By following these, you should begin to see some improvement. However, if you do not reach your goal despite everything, you need to seek advice from a veterinarian, ethologist, or dog educator.