A dog bathing thanks to its owner using a shower head.

Do Dogs Like Bathing?

6 mins |

Taking a warm bubble bath is probably the best thing you can do for yourself after a long, busy day of work. But do dogs feel the same way? It seems dogs don’t mind being dirty, stinky, and covered in mud. Therefore, let’s find an answer to the question: “Do dogs like bathing?”

Some dogs like bathing, but most would rather skip bath time. When it comes to whether your dog likes baths, it depends on the breed, personality, and experience with water.

Why Do Some Dogs Like Bathing And Some Don’t?

A dog with a towel around it.
Very cute!

Whether a dog likes to take a bath or not depends, in part, on the breed. 

People breed some dogs to hunt in the water and assist with search and rescue. Other breeds prefer to stay away from the water and enjoy exploring the land instead. 

For instance, Labradors are water-loving dogs, so most likely they don’t have problems with bathing.  

But this isn’t always the case because dogs that enjoy swimming often resist bathing. 

Why Do Dogs Hate Baths?

Being dirty, stinky, and muddy is a good reason to keep your dog out of the bed, at least until you clean them. In these situations, you know what’s next: bath time. Get the shampoo, towels, sponge, and everything else you need ready. The only part not ready is your dog, who is hiding under the kitchen table. 

This could frustrate you, and it makes you wonder why your dog won’t leave the puddle yet doesn’t want to get any closer to the tub. 

Let’s talk about why!

It’s New And Scary

Dogs often tend to be anxious when experiencing something completely new. 

Do you remember your dog’s first walk on the street with a collar? Your buddy probably acted scared. 

The same applies when putting a dog in the shower, washing them, and soaping them up for the first time – the fear of the unknown freaks them out. Just like it does us. 

Recalling Bad Memories

Dogs remember a lot and make quick associations as well. Only one bad experience in the shower will affect them for a lifetime.

Slipping and falling in the tub, getting water in their ears, getting scalded by hot water, or getting shampoo in the eyes might lead your dog to think the shower is just not a safe place. 

Punishing your dog for getting covered in mud though or for avoiding the tub is another reason why dogs might have a negative association with bathing. So, keep that in mind!

Loss Of Control   

Swimming and bathing are totally different experiences. For dogs, swimming is a fun activity they voluntarily participate in. On the other hand, bathtime is pretty much a forced activity. 

When being secured with a collar, handled, and placed in a shower where you are moving their bodies the way you want, they feel helpless. This feeling of not having control over what is happening to them is usually very upsetting. Again, just like it would be with us. 

The Water Temperature Is Not Right

Having a warm, steamy shower may be relaxing for you, but your dog will find it very uncomfortable. The same applies to ice-cold water. Normally, it will find a way to avoid this discomfort. 

Finding the right temperature for baths is challenging for most pet parents, and it will take some time to find the right one that works for you and your dog.

They Don’t Like The Sound And Pressure Of Running Water

When dogs jump into a river, all they want is to have fun. Theydon’t care about the sound of the water flowing. But when they enter a bath, the sound of running water from the tabs may be frightening.  

How To Get Your Dog To Love Bath Time?

If your dog hates bath time, you probably don’t enjoy it as well. But with a few changes to your bathing routine and a little effort, you can make this activity more pleasant. 

Begin Young But Not Too Young

The younger you introduce your puppy to the shower, the faster it will become an enjoyable activity for both of you. As a result, your dog will learn baths aren’t scary and establish a lifelong routine. 

Still, dogs younger than eight weeks old can’t regular their body temperatures as well as dogs eight weeks and older. So, wait until your dog is at least eight weeks, then start their bathing routine.

Bring A Positive Attitude

Dogs are very sensitive creatures, and strongly connected with their owners. They can easily feel even the slightest change in your mood and energy. 

That’s why it’s very important to bring a positive attitude to the shower before bathing. Keep your voice calm while you constantly encourage your dog.

Our advice is to allow your dog to visit the bathroom as much as any other room, so this space won’t be unfamiliar to them anymore. You can also spend some time training and playing together near the tub. 

Once your dog feels comfortable, you can move to the tub/shower. Bring your dog’s favorite squeaky toys and make a game out of it.

Another way to create a positive association with the bath is by using rewards. Give your dog its favorite treats for every positive behavior and action in the tub, and don’t forget to give it a lot of kisses

This type of positive reinforcement will help your dog understand the bath is not a place to be scared of. 

Ensure Water Temperature Is Ideal

For a successful bath ensure the water temperature isn’t too hot but isn’t too cold either – lukewarm is the best. Check the temperature frequently to make sure it hasn’t changed extremely during bathtime. 

Add Traction To Slippery Surfaces

The inside of the tub is usually slippery, which can make your dog unstable on their paws and create a fear of not having control over its body. Place a silicone/rubber mat on the bottom of your tub so your dog can have a comfortable surface under its feet. 

Give Your Dog Something To Focus On

Make your dog’s bath more interesting by offering it something distracting it will enjoy. You can smear peanut butter on the tiles or shower door, for example, so it can lick it off while you are doing your job.

Why Dogs Go Crazy After A Bath?

There are three main reasons why your dog bursts with energy after taking a bath: to relieve the stress, to get rid of the “good” smell, and to dry off. 

Final Thoughts: Do Dogs Like Bathing?

Now that we answered the question, “Do dogs like bathing?”, you’ll know exactly what to do so both you and your dog can have a good bathing experience. 

What about you though? Do you have any tips or crazy experiences from bathing your dog? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

Sandra is a veterinary undergraduate student based in Macedonia. She combines her two passions: veterinary medicine and writing, and she also tends to raise awareness about animal welfare as much as she can. As a student, she has attended many seminars and conferences related to the veterinary profession, and currently, she is focused on veterinary content writing. Although she owns a cat, she strongly claims that “dogs are her favorite people”.