Thursday, January 30, 2014

Pooches: How to Make Dog Baths Easier

My fear of dog-bathing began when Miss M and I were bachelorettes together.
It was just me and my 70 pound dog. 
We became a living comic-strip; a small girl trying to wrestle her 70 pound dog into the bath tub. 
And much like any comic-strip, there were many tub-escapes, falls, and slippery dog-chasing.
Fast-forward a few years, I felt ready to tackle home dog baths again. But this time with more of a plan than just tossing Miss M in the tub. Luckily, our baths are no longer comic-strip worthy, and we even figured out how to bathe both pups at the same time.
This is what worked for us:

Training your Dog to Love the Bathtub
Given Miss M's earlier Coyote-and-Roadrunner antics, and the fact she hated even going near the bathroom, I wanted to teach her to love the bathtub. We would practice sitting together in the tub without water, and I would make it fun by giving her the best treats she ever tasted. To get her to enjoy exploring the bathtub by herself, I would randomly leave these amazing treats in the tub for her to find. This helped increase her positive associations with the tub as a good place.
Once she felt more comfortable with the tub, and she was actually in the tub with water, I would continuously give her these amazing treats as she was bathing.
After the bath, the pups are rewarded by getting a different"the best treats ever". Through these associations, the pups willingly take baths.

Using the Right Tools: 
We always loved the self-serve dog wash places because they make things so easy, so we tried to set something up similarly in our own home. We bought a removable hand-held shower hose that makes it easy to hose down all those hard-to-reach areas, and rinse them off quickly. The hose also makes it really easy to rinse the hair off of the tub, and we use a hair-catcher on the drain so it doesn't get clogged. We keep all of our cleaning supplies in one place (those dorm caddies still come in handy!) which is easy to pull out. A vet tech told us putting cotton in their ears will prevent water from getting in and potentially getting an ear infection. We also keep wipes to clean inside their ears. We still need to get some non-slip things for the inside of the tub as Mr. B tends to slide around with his stubby little legs.

Save Time
Once our pups learned to love the bathtub, and we had our tools together, we learned a couple of ways to save time. Our treat association with the bathtub taught the pups to jump right in by themselves; we don't have to worry about picking up our big dogs. Since they now enjoy the baths, we save time by bathing them together. We also make it a team effort where E and I work together as an assembly line to wet-lather-rinse and dry. Though sometimes E does most of it so I can get photos.

We tend to bathe our pups about once a month because we have learned this about Chicago Grime and Miss M starts to smell like Fritos. If they are extra-dirty between baths, we wipe them down with a waterless shampoo spray.
These are things that work for us, what are some other bath tips you use for your pups?

Being preventative
We didn't know there were other benefits to this
This is what people are always asking us about
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Annie & Pauls Mom said...

Wow! I'm always amazed at what you can train your pups to do! Annie is mature enough to handle a bath, but Paul is still a 2 person job and won't take treats in stressful situations.

It'sNotAbouttheMoney said...

You might enjoy Soggy Doggy towels - they are the best, right after the hose attachment.

Anonymous said...

Great advice! Boomer and Dottie are just awful to bath in the house so during the summer months when it's good and hot we will do it outside in the yard with the hose after we've run them around and they are good and warm.

orange sugar said...

What do you use for the best treats ever?

2 Punk Dogs said...

Love the pics, especially Mr.'s soap fro! The shower hose is one of the best $12 purchases ever. It blasts the grossness off & then rinses the soap really quickly.
Cheese is a great motivator for our 2. Duke will walk into the bathroom & sit down when I start getting the bath stuff out. :)

Two Pitties in the City said...

Thanks everyone! I think we will need to look into Soggy Doggy towels because Miss M has extra thick fur and takes a long time to dry. And the hose...did change our bathing lives.

@orangesugar: We are lucky our dogs are really treat motivated, so most anything that they don't have on a regular basis would be the best treat ever for them. We have been using the freeze dried liver treats, hot dogs or salami, and afterwards they get dog ice-cream, cheese, and surprisingly...apples. They will come running from a deep slumber if they hear us cutting apples in the kitchen.

Debra@Peaceabull said...

Ray learned to love the tub because I used to smear peanut butter all over the sides, but Julius is obsessed with bathing, so that is good.
I use a bath pouf just like mine to wash them because a little bit of shampoo goes a longer way and I can reach all the dirty areas easily.

Two French Bulldogs said...

What a great idea. I am going to tell mom about those best things I have ever tasted

Unknown said...

Great photos! Wet dog expressions are always priceless!

Kolchak Puggle said...

I routinely smear peanut butter on the wall of our bath enclosure in an attempt to keep Kolchak IN the tub and interested in staying there. The shower hose is seriously the best.

Anonymous said...

That removable shower hose sounds fantastic! I have seriously debated getting a dual shower head just for dog baths since so many hate the cup of water. Unfortunately our pups don't have great bathroom associations. Since everyone has always wanted to eat our bathroom rugs, it's usually a no-dog zone.

JustaGirl said...

They are so cute! Love them!

Unknown said...

Such cute dogs! They do seem to enjoy taking a bath. Very helpful post, too! It’s amazing how treats and constant conditioning can do wonders to pets who are seemingly impossible to train.

Vyvian Gorbea

Unknown said...

I absolutely adore the pictures you have of your doggies! The towels on their heads made me smile :)
Thank you for the tips on getting your dogs used to the bath. Otis, my 3 year old AmStaff mix, doesn't HATE the bath, though he strongly dislikes it. He usually tries one (unsuccessful) escape attempt. Joe & I usually bathe him together to make it quicker & easier. I've bathed him alone and it was a challenge...95 lbs me and a 55 lbs dog...especially having to lift in the tub! The treats are a fantastic idea! Thank you :)

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