How to Calm a Dog During Bath Time

A trickle of water helps aclimate your dog to water.

A trickle of water helps aclimate your dog to water.

The reality is that few dogs were born loving baths, or even water. Resistance toward getting a bath can stem from inexperience or a previous bathing debacle. Regardless of the reason, a calm demeanor and gentle persistence are essential to keeping your pooch calm in the bathtub.

Get yourself organized before the bath. Flip open the shampoo cap and set any towels or wash cloths within easy reach. Erratic pauses, such as turning around to find and open the shampoo in the cupboard, give your already nervous dog an opportunity to worry, or escape. Calmly performing the bathing process in a smoothly controlled sequence will allow you to keep his anxiety in check.

Wet your dog slowly using a removable shower head or a pitcher. Make sure the water pressure starts out low and that the temperature is warm, but not hot. Easing your dog into the bathing process, as opposed to forcibly blasting him with a high-pressure hose of cold or hot water, helps him feel less anxious.

Praise your dog calmly using a normal tone of voice and offer a small treat for each part of the bathing process he completes. For example, give him a treat after placing him in the tub, and another treat after wetting his fur. Keep your tone and body movements calm. You want to communicate to your pup that getting a bath is no bid deal. Talking in a high-pitch baby voice or trying to rush through the bath with frantic movements tells him that there's a reason to be upset.

Items you will need

  • Treats
  • Removable shower head or pitcher


  • Clip your dog's leash around the bathtub faucet only if he's prone to escaping or flailing. Otherwise, being restrained might only increase his anxiety.
  • Have familiar background noise, such as the bathroom fan, on during the bathing process to soothe and distract your dog.


  • Don't allow children or guests to assist in bathing a nervous dog. The combination of anxiety and feeling trapped in the tub can cause him to snap at you or the other person.

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About the Author

Christina Bednarz Schnell began writing full-time in 2010. Her areas of expertise include child development and behavior, medical conditions and pet health. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in international relations.

Photo Credits

  • Husky hat Durst image by Wolfram Zummach from Fotolia.com