Let Stinking Dogs Lie
Updated: Apr 28
To many a dog lover, bath time is a chore. You start out with good intentions. Everyone prefers that Baxter be clean when the in-laws show up for the holidays. Otherwise comments will be made about that smelly beast of yours.
Baxter has learned the routine. He's no dummy. Like many dogs, Baxter goes flying the minute the dreaded b-word is mentioned. Never has he been so fast. Never has the space under your bed seemed so cavernous.
You've wizened up over the years too. You quietly ask your spouse to take Baxter for a nice walk, while slyly gesturing to the bathtub. Upon return, Baxter is promptly ushered into the bathroom where his doom awaits.
Baxter doesn't give up without a fight. He's slippery as a fish throughout the entire ordeal. He even manages to jump out a couple times, splashing water and soap everywhere. Not to worry, you've come prepared and are donning the clothes you swore you were going to donate last summer.
Baxter continues to make his displeasure known. He whines and cries. He cowers in the corner, turning away from your gaze. He attempts to climb the slippery shower walls.
Eventually your dreaded task is complete. Baxter is towel dried and proceeds to have an explosive round of post-bath zoomies. At least it's over until the next round of holidays.
You can't help but puzzle over it. Baxter LOVES water. He runs through puddles, jumps off docks and has delighted in many a summer-time swim.
Sound familiar? There are plenty of us out there in the dog-loving world with Baxters of our own. Then there are those of us with big dogs that we just cannot man-handle into hygiene.
So what's a person to do? There are a few options:
1) Drop the dog off at a groomer and let them deal with it (please don't choose this option, for the sake of your dog and the grooming staff)
2) Use waterless shampoo (handy in a pinch)
3) Try one of those dog-washing vacuum contraptions that promise to clean your 80-lb dog with only 40 oz. of water (reviews vary widely)
4) Let the dog be stinky (old faithful, I've relied on this method a lot over the years)
5) Train your dog to feel better about all this bath time business (bingo!)
Let's back up to Baxter's seemingly Jekyll & Hyde response to water. Why in the world would a dog that loves swimming make such a fuss about the bathtub?
There is, as usual, the matter of choice. I like swimming as much as the next person, but am likely to be displeased about being pushed into a pool. There is also the added stressor of restraint. If you and your dog are going to the lake for a swim, you likely aren't dragging him in with you.
My dog, while not a swimmer per se, still enjoys wading into the water of her own accord. But when it comes to bath time, I've mostly chosen to let stinking dogs lie.
That was until I made the choice to include bathing in the curriculum of my online Howlin' for Husbandry course. Hence, over the past several weeks I've been working on our bath-time game. It hasn't been easy. I've even considered giving up and walking my class through the training plan steps without a video demo.
Then a breakthrough. With a plan and patience, it finally happened. A clean dog is in my future. More importantly, a dog that is a willing participant in her own cleanliness is in my future.