Bathing an anxious or scared dog can be like re-enacting a scene from a horror movie. Bathing as we know it is not a natural thing for a dog to do in the wild, so instinctively, it is understandable when they are afraid of having one. Also, bath time shouldn’t be a terrible ordeal every time your fur-child is a bit muddy. let’s look into what causes a dog to be anxious during bath time and how to overcome this.
The process of bathing can cause anxiety in many dogs and this leads to the fear of being bathed. The key here is to try to identify where this anxiety stems from and look at ways to overcome it with your dog.
Dogs are highly sensitive creatures, often more so than we think. An experience of bathwater that may have been too hot or even a hostile environment (angry owner for example) during a previous bath experience would create anxiety in them.
However, it’s often things far more insignificant to us that could create this anxiety for them. As an example, a bathtub is a slippery surface and many dogs do not like the feeling of being unbalanced. They begin to panic because they know that feeling of not having control is coming.
So how do we help our dogs overcome this fear, I mean we cannot have them running around dirty all the time, even though they might want to! There are many health reasons why it’s vital to keep your pets clean, but that’s a blog for another day. Before you run and fill the tub, you need to help prepare your doggo. Practise is what will help you obtain the best results here.
Make the bathroom seem less scary
- Make the area where the bath will take a place, a safe and happy environment. This can be done by feeding them their dinner in the bathroom where you would usually bathe them.
- Calling them into that room, once they come inside on their own reward them with a treat. Then sit on the floor with them and give them lots of cuddles and scratches. They will soon start to associate the bathroom as a happy place.
Rub a dub dub, now work on getting in the tub
- If your dog starts to panic as soon as you put them into the tub, then this is for you. Make sure that there is NO water in the tub. Put a rubber mat or even a damp towel down inside the tub to prevent your dog from slipping. Gently pick them up and place them into the empty tub. Once your dog is in the tub, praise and reward them with their favorite treat and a cuddle. Leave it at that, take your doggie out the tub and go do something fun.
- When you feel your dog is starting to relax with the idea of being in the tub, before taking them out again, introduce something else they enjoy like a brush.
Now to add some water
- Keep a small bucket and sponge on hand for this step. Once your doggie is in the tub and calm, using the wet sponge, start to wipe down your dog’s paws and legs. Just enough that they can feel the water, remember to keep talking to your dog in a calm and soothing voice. Reassure them that they are being not “a good dog” but “the best dog”.
- When your dog has relaxed to this idea, run a small amount of water in the tub, just deep enough to reach halfway up your dog’s paw, don’t cover their paws yet. Make sure you run the water slowly so you do not cause your dog to panic. If your dog is calm with the water then continue to use the sponge and wet a bit higher on their legs.
- Each time you do this, increase the water level slightly and continue to use a sponge to wet your dog until they are comfortable.
- Try to avoid using a shower head extension if you can, the noise and the water pressure can be quite daunting to a timid or anxious dog. If you have to use one, keep the water pressure as low as possible and slowly increase this if needed.
A few additional tips and tricks
- Rome wasn’t built in a day, so this will take time and practice to overcome BUT it is something that can be resolved.
- Remain calm at all times, your dog will pick up on your mood and this can potentially take you a few steps back.
- Reward EVERY small achievement.
- Always avoid getting water in or near your dog’s eyes.
- The best time to bathe your dog is after a long walk or run. They will be in a happy, relaxed and slightly tired state of mind which will make them easier to handle overall.
- Some dogs have a toy that they treasure and often act as their ‘security blanket’. If this toy is waterproof, introduce it to your bathtime routine, it might help them to relax a bit more.
Remember if your dog is calm and happy about bath time it becomes a happy experience for them. This also helps their anxiety when they are being professionally groomed as well.
To book a professional grooming session please contact us.
Like most cat owners, if you were to ask me the question “is it necessary to have your cat groomed?”, my answer would have been no. I used to be under the impression that cats are the most self-sufficient of all pets. Apart from the obvious things like not being able to use a can opener, they really can look after themselves.
That was until one day I was woken up to the truth that they are not as “independent” as they would like us to believe. My cat had developed an ear infection and the vet asked how frequently I have them checked and cleaned.
So what are the benefits of having my cat professionally groomed?
1) Professional groomers work with cats daily, so they understand that these experiences can be scary for some cats. Their first priority is to help keep your loved one as happy and relaxed as possible. They are specially trained to do exactly that. No procedure is ever “rushed” as this will cause your pet to become stressed.
2) A professional groomer will focus on the areas that we as normal pet owners may miss, like ears. They need to be cleaned regularly to remove any type of wax and dirt build-up, which may result in a nasty and painful ear infection.
The groomer will also take note of any signs that there may be a problem building up and advise you to seek veterinary care. These are things such as bald spots, redness, discharge, swelling, debris
, odor, caked ear wax or even bleeding.
3) Trimming and general claw care. A cat’s claws are their main form of defense and are used for hunting, BUT, that’s mostly required in the wild, where they will naturally be worn down.
A domestic house cat’s claws will also suffer the normal daily wear and tear of climbing walls, trees, digging, and walking on harder surfaces. However, that alone is not enough to keep them healthy, they should be trimmed down regularly. This might also help save your furniture from becoming a scratch post. When a cat’s claws become too long and start to split, they need to remove the old bits of claw somehow and this is often when a cat resorts to “clawing” carpets, curtains, and even chairs.
4) Regular grooming eliminates discomfort in many ways for your cat. Firstly brushing is something that they enjoy, it’s has a massage effect on their coat.
Brushing also promotes healthy hair growth and stimulates the production of natural oils within the coat. This will help to remove dead and dry skin which may become itchy when the seasons change and the air becomes drier.
By using the Paws N Claws team you can rest assured and have peace of mind as the overall well-being and care of your pets is always our first priority.
Why does your doggy have the zooms after a bath?
Dogs love their unique smell and spend a lot of time perfecting it rummaging through the dustbin, rolling in some “phoo” digging holes in the mud… But we humans, want them to be clean, look like fluffy furballs and smell pleasant so that they can cuddle with us on the bed.
It’s Bath Time!
While I am getting the bath and the shampoo ready, my Jack Russell is up the stairs pretending to be invisible, her tail is wagging but at half the normal pace, she looks at me with droopy sad puppy eyes for she knows what is coming. My Jackie loves the ponds and streams and never hesitates to wallow or sit in the cool water when out on her walks, but to have a bath with warm clean water and lovely scented soap is not her idea of fun.
Half an hour later, no longer looking like a drowned rat, she is running around like a Duracell bunny on steroids, rolling, jumping on and off the sofa. We call it the zoomies or the rips but the scientific explanation is Frenetic Random Activity Periods – F.R.A.P.
Zoomies and uncontained excitement or Frenetic Random Activity Periods after a bath releases pent up energy. We do the same when we are feeling nervous or uncertain or out of our comfort zone. Remember the new job and the buildup of adrenaline and stress and when we let go … oh boy do we let go… it is a RELIEF.
Most dogs dislike baths, they tolerate it (probably cursing under their breaths evil human) but they hate to be controlled and confined in the bath. Wetting you with a “shake rattle and roll is probably their way of getting back at you but it is also an efficient way of getting rid of the water. I am always amazed at how they move so more effective than my towel and seem to escape from the hairdryer! While doggies will let you dry them others prefer to run in the wind and self-dry.
Dogs like their smell and when we shampoo them with perfume it may smell weird to them so they run around rolling or rubbing themselves against furniture and may run right out the back door and roll in some unpleasant in the garden to get their smell back. After all their unique smell is how they introduced themselves to their friends.
Let us know if your dog goes NUTS after a bath
Look out for our next blog – How to calm, prepare to bath, and bath your dog ensuring a great experience.