Bath Time Training ...By Doreen K. Gray
This article is not for the dog who has been taught to accept the bath time routine ... but there seems to be little emphasis put on training a dog to accept its bath time graciously. In my opinion there seems to be a gap here in the training, hence the reason for this article.
I have had quite a few dogs that have come to my kennel lately that have no clue how to behave while bathing/grooming because the owner had not thought to train it to accept bath time. That being the case, the poor person bathing them ends up needing four hands to scrub, rinse and hold the dog from jumping out, possibly all the while trying to avoid getting bit. It is distressing to see a filthy dog stay that way because he is so difficult to handle.
Ideally, the dog would have been taught as a puppy how to get into the tub and stand still accepting the owner/groomer's touch ... anywhere on the body. The importance of this can't be over stressed, you can find a great many potential health problems this way. It is not uncommon to find cysts, bites, ticks and the like.
Your vet will appreciate not having a dirty, smelly dog to work on and will see that you are concerned about your pet's health. It will also, as we said before, accustom the dog to accept being handled and to stand/stay for exam making it a pleasure for you and your vet. Your having a relaxed pet at the vet can be a direct result of teaching bath time etiquette.
Try to accustom the dog to the tub gradually. Put the dog in and out of the tub without bathing once or twice a week. At first just a minute or two and allow the dog to come out, at your command. Increase time and teach the dog to sit/stay and stand/stay while in the tub. Take the time to feel the dog from top to bottom, after the dog relaxes. Be sure to lift the feet, touch toes and toe nails, wipe out the ears, etc. Talk to the dog in a happy voice, tell him how wonderful he is and let him out. Praise again at that time.
Training should begin at a very early age and every attempt should be made to make it a pleasurable experience. The time to adjust the water is before the poor puppy is in the tub or sink. Use a washcloth to wipe down the face so that water doesn't get into the eyes or nose of the puppy or dog. This will help him not to be afraid of the water. If your older dog hasn't had training before, this method will work for him too.
Please take into consideration that this is a stressful time for your pet. He worries when he is confined in a three-walled tub, if you are doing this at home, he is slipping and sliding around and in general you aren't always pleased having to get soaked and he senses that, not to mentioned the backache that you usually get while climbing around on your hands and knees. At the groomer's, it is a little easier for you as you don't get wet, you don't have the hair and the mess in your own tub ... (yuck!) But is it easier for the dog? I doubt it. Consider training your pet.
I have found that most grooming tubs, including the home tub are imposing to dogs. I use the BOOSTER BATH, by Paws for Thought. It has solved problems for even the most finicky of pets. (Not just dogs). The back is open and the dogs just walk right in and walk right out. The non-slip bath mat eliminates all the skidding around. The 15" raised pedestal really saves the back. Your pet is accessible from any side, which I find a really nice feature. The water can be adjusted before you use the on/off switch with the faucet adapter. This lightweight tub (approximately 18#) can be thrown over your shoulder and carried anywhere. You can have warm water easily with the TROPIC SHOWER. This handy device attaches easily to your washing machine valve hook-ups and can be left in place for use again. This is the best invention for the professional pet care person as well as for the average pet owner that I have ever found. The affordable prices $129.95 for the small tub, and for large and giant breeds, the large tub at $149.95 (plus $12.00 shipping) makes the BOOSTER BATH within reach of the average person. This is not available in any store as it is brand new.
I stumbled on this while looking for supplies for my grooming/boarding kennel. I could not find a grooming tub for less than $600 when I got the flyer. I bought the Booster Bath the next day. I will tell you, this is the absolute best thing I have ever spent money on. I will be buying several more for my grooming business. For more info call Wendy at Paws for Thought at 1(888) 494-4004 or contact their web site at: http://www.pawsforthought.com.
Please consider bath time training. It will help you, it will help your dog and it will certainly win you the appreciation of your groomer or vet. Wherever, however you bathe your dog, you will be glad you did.
(Doreen has had Mastiffs for nine years, Rottweilers for eleven years and has spent the last seven years training. She is licensed by the National Dog Trainers Association and has been teaching for four years. Several articles on training have been written for the National Dog Trainers Newsletter. Her focus is on CGC, TDI and behavioral work, primarily with Mastiffs. Two of her Rotts are obedience titled.)