Remus hates bath time. Hates it. The first time I put him in the tub and started pouring water via a cup over him off he got so scared he crapped himself. Literally. I had to take my partially soaked pup out, clean the tub, and try again. Double the trauma! I was steadfast in my determination to have a clean dog, though, and took steps to make it as easy and painless as possible. I tried feeding him treats (he refused to eat treats until the fourth or fifth bath, thats how much he hated/was scared of bathtime) I got an extendable shower hose to spray him instead of using a container to pour water. I talked to him, I petted him, I tried to wash him as quick as possible…with varying levels of success.
It’s not just baths, my dog is the antithesis of a labrador. He doesn’t just dislike water, he is terrified of it. Rivers, creeks, hose water, sprinklers…the only form of water he doesn’t mind is puddles, and those only if it is already raining and the water puddles are so muddy I don’t think he recognizes it as water. That said, my scardy dog faces bathtime bravely.
I don’t have to trick him into the bathroom. I turn the water on, get the nozzle spraying, walk out to the kitchen, and walk him to the bathroom. I don’t even need to put a leash on him. He always pauses before he gets into the tub and looks back at me with the saddest expression like “Do I really have to?” but then when I pat the side he dutifully climbs in. There is no fighting, no dragging, no cajoling or tricking. He knows it’s coming, and he climbs in anyway. He gets treats during the bath, but he eats them like it is his job, like they bring him no enjoyment whatsoever. He doesn’t whimper or whine, he has only attempted to escape once (although if he thinks I’m taking too long he does start to get as close to the outside edge as possible and lean against me to give me a hint) and he even knows not to shake the water off until he’s allowed out of the tub. His tail is tucked so far under his body I have to peel it off to wash his belly. And yet he doesn’t fuss, he doesn’t wiggle, he is a miserable-but cooperative- martyr.
And then after, when I scrub his face with the towel (his absolute favorite part) he is SO HAPPY! It is like he’s thinking “THIS IS THE BEST THING IN THE WORLD! I AM OUT OF THE TUB!” And it never fails, no matter how many times I bathe him, it is right after he gets out (still soggy) that he is just hyper and bouncy and goofy and the happiest he can be. Reminds me that sometimes trials are worth it, if only because of how exciting it is to get to the other side. I just hope I can face my daily, weekly, monthly trials as bravely as Remus faces bathtime. 🙂