How To Bathe a Dog that is Scared of Water [Helpful Guide]

How To Bathe a Dog that is Scared of Water [Helpful Guide]

Last Updated on December 25, 2020 by Dr. Jason Williams

How to give a dog a bath that is scared of water

There is nothing more stressful and time-consuming than trying to bathe a dog that is scared of water. Trying to bathe your dog isn’t a death sentence, so you become confused about why your dog isn’t cooperative with water. This then leads to trying to figure out why your dog is scared of water. In this guide, I will show you how to give a dog a bath that is scared of water.

To give a dog a bath that is scared of water, make sure you get them comfortable with the bathroom area. Play with your dog in the bathroom, switch on the tap but don’t get it wet, reward your dog for good behavior in the bathroom, and after a while, the dog understands that there is nothing scary about water and the bathroom.

But it isn’t as simple as illustrated above; in subsequent paragraphs, I will show you a step by step process that would make you understand why your dog is afraid of water, how you can get your dog to like water, and how to bathe a dog that hates water.

Let’s go right into details;

Table of Contents

Why is my dog afraid of water?

how to give a dog a bath that is scared of water
A Dog in a Bathtub

Dogs can become afraid of water for reasons like having a bad experience with water in the past, getting punished for playing in dirty water, or being a breed of dog that hates water.

In situations where you’ve punished your dog in the past for playing with water, you’ve unintentionally molded your dog to assume that water is terrible. Thus, making it difficult to become compliant when in the bathroom.

Dogs can also develop a fear of water due to bad experiences with water. If there had been a situation in the past where your dog almost drowned when playing in the river, or water poured directly over his face, thereby making it hard for him to see or breathe.

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There are also species of dogs that are known for being scared of water. These breeds include;

  • Pugs
  • French Bulldog
  • Dachsund
  • Greyhound
  • Hairless Chinese Crested
  • Shih Tzu
  • Basset Hound
  • Maltese
  • Dobberman

How do you bathe a dog that hates water?

There are two phases involved when you want to successfully give a dog a bath that is scared of water. It involves

  • The Before Shower Phase
  • After Shower Phase.

All these phases are critical in maintaining a long term bathing relationship with your dog. Remember that dogs are emotional, and they remember things for a long time – good or bad experiences.

Before Bathing Phase

The moment you’ve slowly made your pup comfortable in the bathroom area, you should then slowly build on that development. If he gets anxious along the line, always remember to soothe him. The overall aim should be to get him relaxed and tired to reduce the likelihood of running away from the bathroom.

Preparation is vital in such a situation. As such, I will be making some recommendations that involve individual gears you should have around when it comes to how you can successfully give a dog a bath that is scared of water.

So here are some steps before the bathing phase.

Place a Rubber Mat on the bathing surface.

A key reason your dog might be uncomfortable in the bathroom might be due to the slippery surface when the tub gets wet. It is recommended that you place a rubber mat on the tub surface to give your pub a better grip and stop anxiety movement while taking a shower. (Insert image of BathTub Mat).


Place fun dog toys around

toys in a bathtub

Rubber duckies are a good distraction for your dog while taking a bath. They aren’t just for babies alone. If placed around strategically, it could keep your dog distracted till you are done bathing him. Here are some great toys recommendations you could easily purchase today.

Use a Nozzle instead of a Bucket.

A nozzle is perfect for rinsing your dog in the bathroom, instead of a bucket. If you get a nozzle designed especially for dogs, it will make a significant difference. When using a nozzle, you can control the amount of water and also the direction of flow. Also, you can get a scrubber shaped sprayer to achieve double cleaning action and finish on time.

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(Create an image of a nozzle and scrubber shaped sprayer and link to amazon)

Use Specially Formulated Dog Shampoos and Conditioners

Most dog owners mistake using just any shampoo or soap on their dogs, which is another huge reason why your dog is scared of water. Using the wrong soap can hurt your dog in several ways, making him develop a disdain for bath time.

Use a specially formulated dog conditioner and shampoo that is free from paraben and can easily wash your dog’s thick coat. Using the right shampoo can help to keep your dog’s natural oil locked in.

During Shower Phase

Make your Dog Relaxed

Calming your dog down before bathing is essential. You can always turn to natural calming remedies that would help reduce your dog’s anxiety without making him sluggish.

Good calming treats should contain L-Theanine or Melatonin along with ingredients like organic ginger, passionflower, thiamine, which is good for relieving your dog’s hyperactivity and stress.

Take things slow

It’s a tedious thing to bathe a dog, but a shift in thought would help you accomplish it better and faster. It should come with a mix of love and strategy – meaning you should see fun while bathing your dog. This strategy will help you continuously give a dog a bath that is scared of water.

  • Provide the dog a stool to climb into the tub at his own pace.
  • Carefully tilt his head out of the water to avoid water from touching his head, ear, and nose, most importantly.
  • Follow through with patience and calm because forcing the dog won’t make him respond and only worsen his anxious state. Remember that your calmness will help your dog feel more secure.
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Once your dog has become responsive to water, make sure you bathe him FAST!

After Bathing Phase

Finally, you’ve done it!!!

But that doesn’t mean that your dog would be as gentle as it were when next you want to bathe it. So here are some tips to take after you’ve successfully bath it the first time.

Give your Dog a Nice Treat

It could be with anything you believe your dog gets excited about.

Establish a bath routine

Since dogs are creatures of habit, having a bathing routine drastically reduces their stress level as it helps to remove their element of surprise.

How can I get my dog to like water?

Have it at the back of your mind that if your dog is older or has had a bad experience with water, it might take some time to get results. Patience is needed, and you have to remain calm and positive.

No dog would appreciate being thrown into the deep end just like that so that we will work on their terms. The aim is to get the dog to see water as fun, not avoid it.

First is that you pick a good location and I would suggest a quiet beach where your dog can easily walk to the water without hindrance.

If you aim to get your dog comfortable with bathing, then you should use a bathtub. It is recommended you create a ramp for your dog for safety and emotional comfort.

After all, these, don’t forget to give your dog a treat as a reward. Treats after getting in the water will only echo “Let’s do this again” in the dog’s mind!


How to give a dog a bath that is scared of water? Think of that nervous dog like a baby who is afraid of water – I guess you understand the concept now!

All our recommendations here have been proven to work, so follow it up with patience, and most importantly, do it for the fun of doing it.

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