DOG BATH TIME A NIGHTMARE? Here’s how to fix it.

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dog bath

DON’T JUMP RIGHT IN (pun sort of intended)

A great many clients tell me that bath time is a total “nightmare”.  When this comes up, I rarely ”jump right in”,and teach clients the coaching process for fixing this.  I know, it seems kinda cruel to not just address the issue that is foremost on a client”s mind.  Admittedly, a lot of dog training is done that way.  Meaning, a client calls about an issue, and a trainer shows up to help them solve that issue.  Granted, some issues are simple and can be dealt with that way.  However, if  issues are a big deal to a dog, the approach needs to be different.  I always recommend following  a natural learning process (that is: start everything easy and allow you and your dog to incrementally adapt to progressive challenge).  I”ve found that this always makes things easier and tends to produce better long-term results. With the Dog”s Way Training Program, we follow three broad steps: first relationship, then basic skills and then policies (general rules or rituals).  When local ”in-person” clients or clients of the Dog”s Way DVD Training Course, ask how to fix the bathing issue, I always tell them the same thing,”If bathing really stresses your dog out, first,  clarify your relationship, then teach some basic skills, and only THEN address the re-working of the bath time ritual”.


I just did a phone consultation with someone out of the country and bathing their dog was their main issue.  Since we don”t sell The Dog”s Way DVD Training Course in their country yet, I set them up with a few preliminary homework sessions to address those first two steps: relationship and basic skills.  The goal in their preliminary homework was to develop a slightly different understanding with their dog than they”d had previously.  They worked on basic walking, and some functional obedience so that their dog learned to follow their lead in basic situations as opposed to just doing what ever they felt like doing.  Once their dog could do some basic things for them (that were less important to their dog than being bathed ), they began this step-by-step process in adapting their dog to bath time.

After our second phone consultation, I posted this video lesson on re-working bath time for them.  (It”s one of our bonus videos in the students” online learning library that addresses specific issues during and after the course, when people have purchased The Dog”s Way Video Training Course)  Since I”ve already posted it for this long distance client, I thought I”d make it available to you guys. Feel free to watch it and try out the process with your dog if bath time is a big deal in your house too.

MINOR WARNING LABEL:  In the first part of this video, you”ll hear me tell you to NOT do this lesson unless you”re to the DOWN lesson in the ”video course”.  Also, you”ll hear me reference lots of theory that you would have learned in the course and previously learned skills from the course, like “teaching your dog to jump into the car on command”.  Now, I know if you”re watching this on the blog, you probably don”t have all that background.  The only caveat I have, as mentioned above is to make sure that your dog can perform some functional obedience for you in other scenarios prior to trying these steps. 

Best of luck with your new bath-time ritual.

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About Sean

I’ve been training people and dogs in Seattle for the last decade and a half. My main focus when working with clients every week in one-on-one, private lessons is to help people learn to get their dogs to a functional level so that they can actually enjoy spending time every day with their dog instead of stressing about their dog’s behavior issues.

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