Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Baths. Part V. Counter Conditioning and Desensitization

In our last post on baths, we talked about how we might make the process a bit less daunting for our pets.  If after applying those remedies, your dog still hates baths, you might need to work on desensitization and counter conditioning.



Basically we want to start at a point where the dog is not apprehensive, reward heavily, and increase difficulty in teeny tiny increments. Each dog will be different.  Your process might look something like the steps listed below.  Just like nail trims,  don't make the process harder until you can see that the dog is happy about the previous step. And if at any point the dog becomes uncomfortable, back up a few steps

(note: this is assuming that the pet parent has a walk in shower)

Wipe pet with dry cloth, treat. Do this several times until pup is happy about the cloth
--If pup does not like the cloth, work with a skilled professional on handling. Do not proceed until that is accomplished.

Wipe pet with slightly damp cloth, treat
Wipe pet with more damp cloth, treat
And so on until the cloth is very wet

Then start working on teaching your dog to enjoy different surfaces
Then have your dog walk on a dry towel or cloth, treat
Dog walks on sightly damper towel, treat
And so on

Next ask your dog to walk in a very shallow dry pan, treat
Then a pan with just a tad of water
Then a little bit more water
Make sure the pan is not slippery

Next pour a tiny bit of water on your dog, treat
And so on. Increase in teeny tiny increments.

Then start acclimating your dog to the bathroom
Feed your dog near the door for a couple of seconds. Treat. Leave and go do something fun
Feed your dog right inside the door for a couple of seconds. Treat. Leave and go do something fun
Eventually work your way up to being all the way inside the bathroom

Then start the process over again near the shower
Then just turn on the shower with your dog in the bathroom but not in the shower, treat, leave

Later, let dog stand in shower while you turn it on, but don't spray the dog directly
Next spray the dog directly but only for a second

Finally, just spray your dog with the shower head but no sudsing.  If at any point the dog becomes uncomfortable, back up to an easier step. If the dog does fine with the rinse, then you can try a shampoo (if you choose to use one)

Reward your dog heavily when bath time is over.

See more on baths here

How have you helped your dog feel better about baths? Tell us about it in the comments section below.
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