So you’ve finally decided that it’s time for your puppy to have her first bath since birth. Or maybe you are giving the puppy you just brought home her first bath to welcome her home and get her accustomed to taking baths from your tub. Whichever the case, you are on the right track because the best time to train a dog to love baths is when she is a puppy.
Prepare the bath area
First make sure the bath area is not too slippery because this can make the puppy anxious. If it’s too slippery the puppy can’t stand up straight and all legs keep going in every direction, which makes the puppy associate bath time with discomfort. You can place a mat inside the tub to increase friction and enable the puppy’s legs tohave some grip.
When you first bring the puppy home, you can feed her in the bath area or give her treats there so that in her mind, this place is associated with pleasant experiences.
Steps in the right direction
On the day you intend to give her a bath, lead her to the bath area and offer her treats as she comes closer to the tub. Use a calming tone and words of encouragement such as “good girl” as you go closer.
Once she is just a few steps near the tub, run a little water in the tub so that she gets used to the sound of running water. Still using a calm voice, encourage her to get parts of her body into the tub and assist her to get in but don’t push. Nudge her in the right direction instead.
Once her feet are wet, monitor her reaction. If she is okay with the feeling of water on her, add more water into the tub starting with a trickle, again so as not to scare her away, and add the speed gradually. Get other parts of her wet and use rubbing motion to clean her coat, but no shampoo. For this first bath and the few to follow, just use plain water so that you can stop the bath any time your puppy shows signs of distress.
If your puppy allows you to bath her, clean her head, nose ears and the rest of the body and dry her completely with a clean towel afterwards. Offer her treats as you go because the idea is to make her associate bath time with pleasant time.
If you are going to blow dry her, do so gradually. Don’t put the blow drier on full force immediately to avoid scaring the puppy. When you have finished drying her, offer more treats and voila!You have a puppy that is ready for shampooing the next time round.
Remember these steps may take several trials before you can accomplish them all at the same time. The key is being patient so that your puppy does not grow up into a dog that tolerates but hates bathing. You want to bring up a puppy that actually loves bathing.