Why Does My Dog Hate Baths?

by | Sep 19, 2023 | General Information, Training

Bath time for dogs: It’s either a splash-filled party or a dreaded chore.

There’s a handful of reasons behind this bath-time blues.

But don’t fret! With a sprinkle of understanding and a dash of patience, you can help our four-legged friends start to enjoy —or at least tolerate — their soapy sessions!


Key Takeaways

  • Dogs don’t need to bathe as often as humans do.
  • Not all dogs enjoy the sounds, surfaces, and stress associated with bathing.
  • Positive reinforcement training will help your dog come around and maybe even love baths!


Do Dogs Need to Take Baths?

The short answer is yes, but not as often as humans.

Bathing your dog helps remove dirt, debris, and any stinky smells they might pick up from their adventures. Plus, it can help keep their skin and fur healthy.

But here’s the catch: too many baths can strip their fur of the natural oils, keeping it soft and shiny. It’s all about balance.

The number of baths your dog needs varies depending on their breed, size, and how much they play outside. Check with your vet or groomer to find the perfect bathing routine for your furry friend.


Do Certain Dog Breeds Dislike Water?

Dog taking a bath

Dogs, just like people, have their likes and dislikes.

And when it comes to water, breed plays a significant role.

For instance, Labrador Retrievers and Golden Retrievers typically LOVE water. It’s in their genes, as they were bred for water-related tasks like fetching fish or ducks for hunters.

On the flip side, breeds like Chihuahuas or Pugs are not the biggest fans of water since their small size or breathing issues can make swimming challenging.

But remember, it’s not just about breed. Individual personality matters, too! Some dogs might break their breed’s stereotype and adore or avoid water. The best way to know? Safely introduce your dog to water and see how they feel!


Do Dogs Get Mad at Their Parents After Bath Time?

When your dog zooms around like a speedster after a bath, you might wonder, “Is my dog mad at me?” Most dogs don’t get “mad” like humans do. Instead, they feel uncomfortable, anxious, or excited to be free from the soapy water.

While your dog might not be thrilled about the bathing process, they aren’t holding a grudge against you. They’re just reacting to the experience in their way.


5 Reasons Why Your Dog Hates Baths

Reasons Why Some Dogs Hate Baths

It’s a Forced Activity

For many dogs, bath time feels like a forced activity.

Imagine someone suddenly telling you to do something you’re not used to without giving you a heads-up. Jarring, right?

Most dogs love routines and predictability, which is why unexpected bath time is unsettling. The sound of rushing water, the feeling of being confined, or simply the sensation of being wet can all make them nervous.

When dogs feel forced into something without understanding why, they get stressed. It’s like being made to do a chore you don’t like without knowing the reason behind it. That’s why you must make bath time as pleasant and predictable as possible. Positive reinforcement like treats and praise can help your dog relax and look forward to the experience!


Negative Associations With Water

Just as people have memories of specific events or places, dogs can also form “negative associations.” For some dogs, this not-so-great memory might be related to water.

Think about it: If a pup had a splashy mishap in a puddle when they were little or got caught in a heavy rainstorm, they might think, “Water’s not my friend!” And just like that, they have this idea in their furry heads that water equals bad news.

For a dog that’s already wary of water, seeing the tub filled up might remind them of that experience. The sound of the faucet, the slippery feel of the tub, or even the scent of the shampoo may trigger those negative feelings all over again.

But here’s the good news: Dogs are fantastic at forming new, positive memories. With a little patience, some tasty treats, and a whole lot of love, you can help your dog flip the script and make bath time a splashy success!


The Novelty of Water

Many dogs aren’t exposed to water in a big way when they’re puppies. Aside from their water bowl and maybe some rain, they might have yet to experience larger amounts of water.

The feeling of being submerged in water is different. It’s wet, can be a bit cold, and might even make some weird noises. Plus, the sensation of water pouring over them may be overwhelming. These unfamiliar feelings can make a dog feel out of their comfort zone.


Unpleasant Water Temperature

When you jump into a shower, and the water’s too cold or too hot, it’s pretty uncomfortable, right? Dogs feel the same way!

Dogs can’t go into detail about their water temperature preferences. So, when they’re plopped into a tub of burning/freezing water, they might associate bath time with that unpleasant feeling. Unlike us, they don’t understand the concept of adjusting the faucet to get that perfect temperature. To them, it’s just a sudden, off-putting feeling.

Dogs have sensitive skin, just like us. So, they might feel chilly and uncomfortable if the water is too cold. On the other hand, it could make them feel overheated if it’s too hot. The trick is to find a middle ground — a nice lukewarm temperature that’s just right for them.


Dealing With Slippery Surfaces

For our four-legged pals who are used to stable ground, a slippery tub makes them feel unstable and wobbly. Their paws might slide around, and they could have trouble finding their footing.

This unsure feeling makes baths feel scary. Instead of relaxing and getting cleaned, they’re focusing on not slipping and sliding all over the place. And let’s face it, feeling unsteady isn’t fun for anyone, dogs included.


Can I Clean My Dog Without Giving Them a Bath?

How to Clean Your Dog Without Giving Them a Bath

Absolutely, you can! While baths are a thorough way to clean your dog, there are other methods to freshen them up without getting them totally soaked:

  1. Dog Wipes: These are like baby wipes but specially made for dogs. They’re great for quick clean-ups, especially if your dog has gotten into something messy on a walk.
  2. Dry Dog Shampoo: Just like it sounds, this shampoo doesn’t need water. You spray it onto your dog’s fur and give them a good brush or rubdown.
  3. Brushing: Regular brushing not only keeps your dog’s fur looking neat, but it also removes dirt, debris, and loose hair.
  4. Spot Cleaning: If your dog has a small dirty spot, you don’t need to give them a full bath. Just clean that area with a damp cloth or a pet-safe wipe.
  5. Doggy Deodorant Sprays: These sprays can give your dog a quick refresh. They’re designed to be safe for pets and leave your dog smelling great.

While these methods are adequate for quick clean-ups, nothing beats the occasional full bath to keep your dog clean and healthy.


How to Make Your Dog Enjoy Baths

How to Make Your Dog Enjoy Baths

Project Calmness on Your Pup

Dogs are always in tune with our feelings. If we’re nervous or stressed, they’ll likely feel the same way. On the flip side, if we’re calm and relaxed, our dogs will follow our lead.

Start by taking a few deep breaths and calming yourself down. Talk to your dog in a gentle, reassuring voice. If they see that you’re chill and everything’s okay, they might start thinking, “Maybe this isn’t so bad!”

The key is consistency. Over time, with your calm approach, your dog may have a change of heart about baths. It’s all about making the experience as positive and stress-free as possible for both of you!


Level Up Your Bathing Game

Happy Corgie taking a bath

First, those slippery surfaces can be a real bother for dogs. To make things more comfortable, you can lay down a non-slip mat. This approach gives them more grip and confidence, and they’ll be less worried about slipping around.

Second, treats are the magic wand of positive associations for dogs. If every time your dog hops into the tub, they get a treat, they’ll come around on this whole bathing idea! Treats help replace any negative associations they might have had in the past with cheerful, yummy ones!

Finally, let’s chat about shampoo. Just like we don’t appreciate shampoos that irritate our skin or eyes, dogs feel the same way. If the shampoo stings their eyes or makes them itchy, they will dread bath time. Using a gentle, dog-friendly shampoo will make a world of difference. Plus, some of them smell pretty great, so your pup will come out smelling like a fresh bouquet!

Turning bath time into a fun event is about understanding what makes your dog tick and addressing those concerns. By swapping negative associations with positive ones, you’ll have a pup excited to jump into the tub!


Keep an Eye on the Water Temperature

Finding your dog’s “just right” water temperature is essential. Think about when you jump into a shower; you want it neither too hot nor too cold. Dogs are similar.

Hot water can be uncomfortable for dogs, even to the point of harming their skin. On the flip side, if the water’s too cold, they’ll be shivering and eager to escape.

The trick is to aim for lukewarm water. You can test it with your hand. If you’ve got the right temperature, your dog will be more relaxed and might even start enjoying their baths!


Call Upon a Professional Dog Groomer

Dog taking a bath

Sometimes, no matter how much you try, your dog isn’t having it with bath time at home. That’s when calling in the pros can make a world of difference.

Enter the dog groomer, the superhero of the canine spa world. These folks have seen it all, from the most excited bath lovers to the pups that would rather roll in mud all day. They have the magic touch, the patience, and the skills to turn bath time into a fun spa day for your fur baby.

The professional dog groomers at K9 Basics are known for making even the most water-shy dogs feel comfortable. With their gentle techniques and expertise, they understand how to make the experience pleasant for your pet. So, if you’re at your wit’s end trying to get your dog to enjoy a bath, let a professional dog groomer from K9 Basics show your pup how fabulous a spa day can be!

Call us at (866) 592-2742 or, if you’re from New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, or New York, visit us at 131 Kenilworth Road, Marlton, New Jersey 08053, to learn more about our obedience training services. Also, browse our blog and social media for various topics about dogs and their lives with us!



  1. “How Often Should You Bathe Your Dog?” Volhard Dog Nutrition, www.volharddognutrition.com/blog/how-often-should-you-bathe-your-dog/. Accessed 29 Aug. 2023.
  2. “How to Ensure Your Golden Retriever Will Live a Longer, Happier Life.” Volhard Dog Nutrition, www.volharddognutrition.com/blog/how-to-ensure-your-golden-retriever-will-live-a-longer-happier-life/. Accessed 29 Aug. 2023.