If Dogs Like to Swim, Why Don't They Like Baths?

Some dogs feel trapped in bathtubs.
i Chris Amaral/Photodisc/Getty Images

If your dog adores swimming but objects greatly to going into the bathtub, he's not an anomaly. His aversion to bathing likely goes far beyond the concept of simply getting wet. Fortunately, with a little time and practice, many dogs learn to tolerate taking occasional baths.

Lots of Contact

Swimming comes naturally to many, though not all, canines. When dogs swim in the water, they feel free. Being in the bathtub, however, is usually the total opposite. If a dog is in the bathtub, his owner often is holding him down and keeping him still -- not exactly a recipe for fun for many hyper dogs who love running around and playing. Some dogs also don't take well to being touched in ways that aren't familiar to them. If this describes your pooch, he just might not be used to the idea of your diligently massaging doggie shampoo into his coat.

Bathtub Floor

Some dogs detest baths because they find bathtub floors to be uncomfortable and hard to stand on. Bathtub floors generally don't offer much in the way of friction. If you suspect your dog is uneasy about the slick floor, consider bathing him in your yard with a hose. Placing a slip-resistant mat in the bottom of the tub might also help him gain traction and feel more comfortable.

Fear of Running Water

While some canines might be riveted by watching running water, others might not be so pleased about it. Many dogs dread bathing simply because the appearance -- and loud sound -- of running water is terrifying to them. An outdoor bath with a hose might be handy on these dogs, too.

Shampoos With Fragrances

Dogs might hate baths because they don't like the smells of the shampoo. When you wash your dog, pick out a shampoo that is formulated solely for canines. Shampoos for other animals are inappropriate for them, as are shampoos manufactured for people. People shampoos are overly aggressive on delicate canine fur and skin. To avoid annoying your dog with the overpowering fragrance of a product, look for a mild canine shampoo that either is unscented or has an extremely subtle scent. Your veterinarian might be able to give you some solid suggestions, so don't hesitate to ask her.

Calm Your Buddy

Practice makes perfect in helping your pup tolerate bathing. When you bathe your dog, try to make him feel as cozy and secure as possible. Talk to him in a soothing voice while you bathe him and gently rub his back. When he's out of the tub and fully dry, try to give him a positive, feel-good association with the whole experience, whether you offer him an exciting new toy or give him a yummy doggie snack. If your dog links bathing to something pleasant, he might not dislike it so much anymore.

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