why do dogs hate baths?

YouTube has about a gazillion videos of dogs doing their goddamndest to avoid being given a bath. No doubt there are some dogs that are just fine with it, and there are plenty of dogs that love to go for a swim in the lake. But if so many people are posting videos of dogs that run away yelping when you say “it’s time for your bath,” I can only assume there’s really something to it.

So what’s the deal? Has anyone figured out what elements of a bath are commonly disliked by dogs? Is it the water temp? The shampoo? The scrubbing?

My guess has always been that its the lack of control and freedom combined with the serious tone of the Alphas (us people) around them. I see the same sort of thing with cages/crates unless the dog is trained to them; and even then sometimes.

IANADog but I think it has to do with the importance of smells to dogs.

You know how sniffing each others’ butts is their “Hi and who are you ?!” ? When you scrub away their stank, you essentially erase their social identity and replace it with “Overpowering Flower Floof” until such time as they can establish a new scent signature (and indeed, the first thing our dog used to do after a bath was to go and roll around in something dreadful). If you think about it that way, a bath is probably the equivalent of shaving away all your hair, lasering your tats and dressing in nondescript loose pastel grey clothes for three weeks.

Most owners make a big deal out of giving the bath - both from a ‘chase the dog’ to give it the bath + thier own nerves, etc.

IOW, the dog is reacting as much to the owner, maybe seeing it as a game (we play, then its bathtime).

I agree, it has to do with the scents and smells. I also know one of our dogs absolutely despises being all wet. He’s the sweetest thing but turns into a demon when soaking wet.

Most dogs I have owned enjoy the bath. My chihuahua trys to avoid it but once he starts he loves it.

I agree with dogs disliking being forced to be in a place they can’t get out of and humans losing their patience and yelling at them.

We walked the dogs the other morning and it was already getting too hot for them. So when we got home we cooled them off with the hose. I had Romeo so I turned on the hose and kept saying, “good boy, doesn’t that feel nice, etc.” At first he tried to get away, but the nicer I was and the more praise I gave him the better he stayed. Pretty soon he was loving it. He’d lift a leg so I could get in his “armpit” area. So my husband was up next with Luca. Luca immediately balked and pulled away and my husband immediately got impatient with him, yelling and pulling him. I had to correct him (my husband!) and as soon as he spoke nice and praised Luca, he stood very calmly.

It would be like someone grabbing you and forcing you under a stream of water. You’d fight too!

We approach the subject gently, which probably helps our dogs feel feel calm.

But some dogs just love it without much coaching. Luna is a gentle-hearted and playful pit bull. When we first adopted her we were trying something called the “two week shutdown” in which you limit the new dog’s exposure to stressful things, so baths were off the list. But she happened to have a very smelly accident in her crate (our fault) and a bath suddenly became mandatory.

I laid out the towels and shampoo and got the tub ready (we put a rubber mat in for canine-toe traction). When I started running the water to get the temperature right, Luna came into the room, observed what was going on, and climbed into the tub and sat waiting. While being lathered, she put her chin on my knee and closed her eyes.

If you were given a bath in that manner would you like it?

I rest my case.

It’s definitely the smell, IMO. Dogs are proud of and cultivate their stank. You can tell by how many dogs will immediately seek to rub themselves all over anything and everything to try to get their glorious stank back.

I have owned three dogs in my life. Two hated baths but loved the backyard hose. The third hated the hose but if we said “Bath time!” she would run upstairs and go into the bath tub.

That is so cute! Bless her.

In the summer, at least, our dogs loved to go in the lake, typically after a stick or to follow a canoe. So we made sure they got wet that way, then shampooed them on the shore. Shampoo they didn’t like so much, but afterwards were more thrown sticks, and they became self-rinsing.

Nevertheless, no matter how clean Fido is, a wet dog doesn’t smell too good, so we made sure they had a long walk afterwards before being let in the house. All our care was for naught if they found a dead fish to roll in.

Our dog is pretty neutral on baths. He is a Papillion and will usually stand still for us to pick him up when we call bath time, once in a while he will quietly slip under the bed. After the bath, he likes to get dry, and if we swaddle him in a dry bath towel, he will sit there for half and hour or more. He is not a fan of a hairdryer. What is weird is that after the bath he hits turbo. He will run around and play chase like crazy until he is completely dry. I don’t think he is just trying to generate heat to finish drying, but who knows?

Bad experiences with previous baths may account for some dogs. I never had one which wanted the water to be “human shower” hot, but they have all been fine with “kinda warm” water.

I think, typically, people try to bathe their dogs at human-appropriate temperatures, and that’s most of the problem.

I had a rat terrier that would jump in the shower with you. You couldn’t leave the door open or you would have a shower partner. She loved to eat soap and bubbles too. Had to keep it up high.
My Yorkie now hates to be groomed. It’s all the fuss of blow drying and brushing afterwards. If we are going to the groomer she starts whining immediately. Poor baby. I had her cut really short in June and it’s time to go back.

It’s so hot here my dog doesn’t mind a bath, the gardener does it outside with the garden hose.

Every once in awhile one of the cats needs one, though. And that always becomes a slash fest rather quickly. You’d be surprised how strong those little muscles are, it’s quite exhausting even with two people.

My dog, who is crate trained, just stands there stoically and waits for the ordeal to end.

My uncle has always owned dogs. One thing he discovered after getting a house with a large garden area and water deposit/pool was the dogs would take advantage of the pool if he simply made it available. One source of contention between him and my aunt was that she liked using “Overpowering Flower Floof” while he reckoned there was no need for anything more than mild soap (at most) unless the vet had said so. Now that they’re both old and separated, her dog smells like a bomb went off in a flower store (I think that might be at least half the reason he’s always so pissy) while his smells like clean dog. Both dogs are small and with more hair than dog.