Skip to main content

PawTracks may earn a commission when you buy through links on our site.

4 great ways to make bath time less stressful for your dog

As relaxing and refreshing as a bath might seem to you, your fur baby may not feel the same way. Whether it’s their first bath or the hundredth time they run from the sound of the bathtub faucet, helping your dog stay calm during bath time can be tricky, to say the least. Luckily, there are a few ways to work through and outsmart any of your furry friend’s worries, and we’ve got the secrets right here.

Savvy pet parents have figured out plenty of tried-and-true methods for keeping bath time low-key, so you’re bound to find something no matter what makes your dog’s tail wag. From distractions like toys and treats to relaxing environmental changes, you’ve got plenty of options to try out. Just don’t be surprised if you get a little wet in the process.

Take bath time outside

One unexpected solution to a fear of bathtubs is to take the tub out of the equation altogether. Many pet parents, particularly of larger dogs, may even find it easier to bathe their furry friends with a hose and doggie kiddie pool in the yard. Just remember to double-check the water pressure and temperature before diving right in — in fact, this makes a better warm-weather activity, especially if your dog loves running through the sprinklers.

You can tether them to a nearby structure or hold the leash yourself, but allow them some space to move around and be comfortable. The idea of going outside is to help your dog feel less cornered and confined, after all. Plus, the soothing sights and sounds of nature can be calming (or distracting) for just about anyone.

a small blonde wet dog stands in a bathtub with their owner petting them
benjamin lehman/Unsplash

Distract your pup with toys or treats

Who says distractions are always a bad thing? You can make bath time immensely more fun for your pooch by bringing along a few of their favorite items, whether it be a handful of treats to munch on or a toy to cuddle and play with. If your dog likes to be distracted by play, it’s even more essential that you invest in a nonslip bath mat to keep everyone safe and happy.

One recent invention has helped countless pets (and their people!) stay cool and collected during bath time: a suction cup lick mat. Simply smear peanut butter on the center, stick the cup to your bathtub’s wall, and let your dog enjoy while you’re scrubbing away.

Reduce loud noises during bath time

For many dogs, the loud noises and overstimulation that come with faucets and hair dryers are what make bath time so stressful. This is also why many dogs are more relaxed when bathing at home instead of around the sights and sounds of a busy grooming office.

It will help to prepare the bath and all your towels, shampoos, and other tools before you bring your pup into the room. Your dog might be tipped off by the sound of the bath from another room, but you can always let the water sit for a while before coaxing your pup in with positive reinforcement and a few treats.

Air-drying your dog might be necessary or at least helpful for pups who don’t like loud sounds. It takes a bit longer, but it’s worth it if it makes bath time easier in the long run. Just grab an extra towel or two!

a wet brown dog stands in a bathtub and has suds rubbed over them by their owner

Take baby steps toward the tub

No matter why your dog is nervous around the tub, it will comfort them to take baby steps instead of being forced to jump in (not literally, of course). Some dog owners don’t want to take the time to acclimate their pup to the bathroom environment, but doing this will help reinforce their feeling of safety.

Try getting your dog used to the tub without water in it before you attempt a bath. If you need to toss in a treat to tempt them to step in, go for it! Just don’t forget to praise and reward them when they do. As they begin to associate the bathtub with these positive memories and yummy treats, they won’t be nearly as nervous to follow you in for a wash next time around.

Whatever your dog’s past may be, or whatever the reason they’re stressed around the bath, you can help them make more positive associations. After some TLC and a little time, washing your pup will be a breeze. They’ll look like a whole new dog, and you won’t be soaked in soapy water! Well, not completely, anyway. Shake happens!

Editors' Recommendations

Gabrielle LaFrank
Gabrielle LaFrank has written for sites such as Psych2Go, Elite Daily, and, currently, PawTracks. When she's not writing, you…
How to tell if your older dog’s health decline means the end is near
Signs your old pup is close to the end-of-life period
An old Great Dane with a white face leaning against a man's side.

If you've stumbled across this article after searching terms like "old dog behavior before death," we are so sorry for your situation. There's nothing we want more than for our fur babies to live forever. Unfortunately, death is a part of life we all must face, and the loss of a pet is a major trauma because of the tight bonds we form with our fur babies.

Knowing death's a part of life doesn't make the loss of a pet any easier — it can be as difficult as losing a human family member. Despite the many ways we can try to grieve once our beloved pet has passed, it can be helpful to know the end is near. Here's what you should look for if you suspect your dog may be nearing the end of the road.  

Read more
Looking for signs your dog has ticks? These telltale symptoms mean you have a flea or tick problem
What to lookout for if your dog has ticks or fleas
Beagle scratching body

Fleas and ticks are common issues with dogs, but they aren't harmless. These pests attach themselves to a dogs' body, feed off their blood, and make them extremely uncomfortable, if not ill. It can be a miserable experience — for both you and your pet. Left undetected, fleas and ticks can transmit a host of unsavory diseases. You need to keep a close eye out for the signs your dog has ticks.

So, where does a dog pick up these nasty critters, anyway? And if they do, how will you know? We’ve got the answers plus a few tricks on how to prevent them (and why this matters). These are the sign your dog has ticks or fleas.

Read more
Video: This family dog is the world’s best babysitter
This golden takes the best care of his tiny human
A dog sits outside and watches a baby

If you think family dogs don't make good babysitters, think again. While it's true a lot of pets encourage mischief, sometimes a particularly sweet animal will be perfect for the role of human watching. This adorable beastie has his child minding duties down to a science, as seen in the latest TikTok video in which a happy golden retriever follows around his little girl bestie as she plays through her day. It's called "Who needs a babysitter?" and proves that our buds are up to the task. (Okay, so you shouldn't actually leave your dog in charge of your child — but there are definitely pups out there who make perfect companions for kids.)

"Dogs can't be babysitters," reads the first title in this funny dog video. We see our golden star with his small child and then cut to her in the bounce house with the label "My dog." What follows is a look at all the ways he watches her go about the life of an active toddler, always followed by her trusty companion. (Obviously, the pup pup is not truly babysitting as presumably the parent is the one filming.) In addition to being safe, she clearly adores the attention of her furry friend.

Read more