Dog is Afraid of Baths

I have a 2 year old German Shepherd Siberian Husky mix. I bought him from a family and he used to be abused. He doesn't have any problems with that but, he is deathly scared of baths.


He likes to play, but I can't find the right kind of toys for him. I have tried bones and stuffed animals, but he doesn't like either one. Any advise anyone can give me would be useful.

By Alichia from Ogden, UT

October 28, 20100 found this helpful

Frequently, rescue dogs don't know how to play. We have one who went from zero play to bringing us his Frisbee, stuffed animals, chew bone, etc. at the drop of a hat later on.

You are going to have to teach him how to play. I don't have any suggestions as how to go about doing this, because I sincerely can't recall what we did all those years ago.

If there is a person with whom the dog identifies, this individual should be the one to attempt play time.

Considering the rescue status, try one person at a time rather than the whole family trying to help all at once. The former is more calming and the latter will put the pooch on unrelaxed guard duty.

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October 29, 20100 found this helpful

Good advice from the previous post. I also recommend teach your dog to "tug". It's a natural instinct and he'll catch on quickly. Our rescue did not know how to tug, but now it's her main play activity. It is encouraged in agility training because it builds front end muscle for jumps, etc. It also gets them fired up with the "drive" required to do the obstacle courses. A big dog requires a big, strong tug, but sometimes different things are not comfortable in their mouth. I started with a soft furry one I made. Wiggle it around on the floor in front of the dog, he'll probably naturally give chase and then grab it. That's when you tug gently on it, even put your hand on his chest to encourage backward movement. Keep trying, it will happen. I have no good advice on the bath, hopefully someone else will post suggestions.

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October 29, 20100 found this helpful

Don't know if this will work for you, but this sure worked for our scaredy cat. We've had our dog since she was 3 months old (she's 4 now) and she was always terrified of baths, just the word would send her cowering! She's never been abused, but she acts like it.

This summer I got one of those things (at Walmart) that is a hand-held scrubber that you can put the soap inside (I water it down). It has rubber bumps on it, and when you push the button, the soap comes out onto the dog and you can massage them as you bathe them. They say to just use it in the direction the hair grows, but I used it to rub her all over back and forth.

Well, as usual, she trembled and peed all over herself in the tub as if I was going to beat her - at first. By halfway through the bath, she was so relaxed and happy she was nearly asleep! Ever since then, she still cowers if I say the word, but she isn't afraid when I give her a bath. I even caught her in the driveway one hot day after she'd been playing outside and gave her a bath with the hose and scrubber. She sat there with her eyes closed, enjoying every minute of it!

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November 1, 20100 found this helpful

Maybe it's old owners nearly drowned your dog.

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