Dog that doesn't like water!


New Member
My dog Lucy does not like water so i have to put her on a leash to keep her still while I am giving her a bath. That does not work either because when i try to start spraying she starts pulling on the leash and ends up chocking herself or pulling of the collar. Then I try to tighten the collar but it just makes it worse. If someone has a way to get a dog to like water please let me know as soon as possible.


Honored Member
Staff member
Try to make bathtime as fun as possible. It's easiest to start this OUTSIDE, because a bathtub can feel like a deathtrap to a dog who isn't used to water yet. Keep some treats handy and start with the water spraying AWAY from her. If her water fears are pretty severe, you may need to sit the hose down completely with the water running. Feed her treats close to the hose. When she's comfortable, crouch down and pick up the hose, still holding it very low to the ground. Keep feeding treats so she's not panicking. If she starts to freak and you can't get her calmed down, start over. This time maybe just keep your hand on the hose without picking it up.

If she's doing good, stop. Take a playtime break so she can relax. Maybe 15-20 minutes later or more, try again. Start at step one again and work your way back up. Depending on the dog, you may be able to start spraying the water close to her now. Pick up the hose and slowly move the water closer to her. Let it run several seconds at one distance, then move just slightly closer, run a few seconds, closer, etc. Keep a steady stream of treats going so she's focused on getting the yummy snacks and starts to associate water with rewards. If she's doing good, this is another good stopping point. Play break then try again. When you do start actually spraying her, ALWAYS start with the feet. NEVER start spraying her right over her head or neck. You'll never get any progress at all. Slowly work your way up from her BACK feet to higher on her back legs. If she'll let you, you can try slowly working your way forward. For your first "training" bath, don't even worry about neck/head.

Don't get aggravated and clench the leash or yell. Stay relaxed. If she starts to freak, take it back a step. If you are relaxed rather than getting worked up when she freaks out, it will be easier for her to calm down. If you're worked up and she's worked up, then she thinks obviously there's something to be worked up about--Mom's worked up too! So just stay relaxed. Don't get frustrated and take as much time as she needs. Eventually you'll have a dog who is perfect for baths and even enjoys them. Remember that for each bath, you'll need to start with the early stages for quite a while so she knows you aren't just going to attack her with the hose. Starting easy with the early steps will help reassure her that the water isn't as scary as she thought.

I'd also avoid grooming salons until she's PERFECT for baths. You never know what kind of handler she'll get--you could get someone great who will take the extra time she needs, or you could get someone who's just trying to get their job done fast and could care less if they stress out the dog. If she's making good progress at home and then you rush her to a grooming salon because you don't have time to bath her, a bad groomer will put her back to square one and afraid of baths.

Hope this helps. I've had dogs of both kinds--one of my Border Collies LOOOVES water and likes to attack it. It took patience and just a little bit of work to get her to understand that bathtime is not the time to play with the water. She's perfect for baths now, but just as a reward if she has an outside bath, I occasionally give her some water play after a bath so she can look forward to bathtime. One of my others hasn't liked baths since he was a pup. As a young puppy he would SCREAM when I tried to bathe him. Bath time took forever and he needed a lot of reassurance and work. He's very timid anyway, and it's taken a lifetime of patience with him to get him willing to stand still for baths. He's no longer afraid of bathtime although he's still not crazy about it. He stands still though and he knows now it's not so bad. :)

Hope this helps. Good luck!


Experienced Member
I believe a fellow member posted a video on youtube on exactly this subject :)



Experienced Member
stream of consciousness that helped me

watch the latest episode of it's me or the dog with Victoria Stillwell and the white lab with the walk in tub. FOOD FOOD FOOD. go slow and don't get frustrated. smear peanut butter on the sides of the tub. may the payout worth the effort. gradual slooowwww exposure with high rewards. get him to walk in water and treat the heck out of him. toss a bunch of chicken in running water on the concrete and let him dare to go get it with no pressure.

where are you bathing him. are you dragging him to the bathroom and hoisting him struggling into the tub despite his fear? are you getting angry or frustrated? do you have a tether in the tub or do you grab him and haul him back? i think if you tightened my collar I wouldn't really like it either. what about a martingale collar which won't slip off but loosens if he's not pulling??

My dog doesn't like the new house with the much smaller shower so she really doesn't like going in there. I wait for a warmish day and have a hose that connects to the kitchen faucet-out the window and we have warm water. does the tub have a big rubber mat so the dog won't slip? much more can be accomplished with patience, FOOD (good meaty food like cut up hot dogs, chicken, even peanut butter). I talk calm and am calm. One of the people that stays with me during the day said the whole thing is like a Zen experience...

think of this way if someone said let me spray you with water for a dollar while u have ur good clothes on or even naked in the cold would u let them? maybe for $20 but not for long.... but if they offered $100 or $1000 I bet you might allow it for a while. make it worth it..get a martingale collar, a walk in tub with rubber mat in the bottom, warm water hose for $10 at most with a shampoo dispensing sprayer so it goes faster. and be nice rub soft and don't scratch or be rough--I’m sensitive headed maybe dogs can be too. use nice soothing shampoo's, don't spray or get water in their ears or faces they hate that..I don't wash my dogs faces...i do ears very carefully and tickle chin to keep head up and water off face. do the face with a wet towel if u must. oouch that stings.. you can cover/close the ear opening with ur other hand even for floppy golden ears like my dogs and NOT get water in there. their ears get greasy and need a good wash. brush BEFORE the bath so the tangles don't get worse...brush AFTER they dry so the tangles won't get worse.

when ur done have some fun and make baths a prelude to his favorite toy or game-it's most likely not the water but the circumstances and routine surrounding bath. try totally changing all that. Victoria got the dog into the tub with food before ever introducing water. My older dog doesn't like a bath because my ex treated her roughly and was impatient with her trying to get away from his nasty attitude. she has long hair and he had no idea how to shampoo long hair. it does make a difference I HAVE LONG HAIR. i used to fear my mother washing or brushing my hair. REALLY FEAR IT. Rub softly in s's all one direction WITH the direction of the coat so tangles and pulling are minimal. don't scrub back and forth like ur scouring a floor it hurts. try brushing their hair backward they don't like that either so don't shampoo that way.

you can get your dog very clean with soft circular rubbing which is very like a massage with maybe 5 more minutes’ time. be nice and wash with luke warm water--they aren't fond of hot or cold. get sensitive skin or soothing DOG ONLY shampoos. HUMAN SHAMPOO NO NO even baby shampoo because it is the wrong PH and can really damage skin. Don't get mad when they shake and they WILL so get over it. put the towel out and sort of rub like a nice spa rub down and then hold it over them. they'll shake to resettle their coats. and for Pete’s sake cut ur nails and don't use them on dog skin...or use gloves. i had a shampoo girl at a salon start scraping my head with her fake talons and almost jumped out of the chair.

BTW great video..i typed this before watching the vid to see how well I did and I think we agree...sloooowww gradual positive associations and FOOD. Don't do the bath right away do some tricks, get used to all the other things first. DON'T get mad STOP...try tomorrow a little more and a little more.


Honored Member
First, loved your video Krazykaine3, really excellent! Saw the VS episode, not sure if this is the exact one she used, but very similar, also there's another one, not sure if big enough for your big boy, didn't look at the measurements, but at least it's a start.

Also, just must say, have 2 GSDs also, so am a huge fan, have seen some of Kaine's videos on youtube, he's fabulous!!! Was so happy to see you here:dogtongue2: He's so handsome! Give him a big hug from me and my three (2 GSDs and 1 Aussie mix).


Experienced Member
I googled and searched for that VS bath and can't find it. I was thinking it HAD to be cheaper than the buster bath which is temptingly on tall legs. That would be much easier on my back but $200 + was kind of pricey. I'll dream of the walk up stainless affairs. If anyone finds the one from VS post it please. It was really nice. The buster seems like a dog jumping out while clipped on could dump the whole works but maybe not.


Honored Member
Not sure, but I am thinking that is the tub. I used to get loads of stuff from vendors at my old store, and got stuff from them. Found the tub at another place I used to get info from, better description *(and price), legs are detachable. Maybe check this one out, at least it couldn't tip? PetEdge: Portable Booster Bath Tubs Still pricey, tho. Need to stick with mine in the shower, bathroom door closed - have had one escapee all soaped up take a run thru my bathroom/bedroom - yikes, oh not pretty :msngiggle:


Experienced Member
This is the one i saw that looked ez on my back but is $$. VS had one that sat on the ground with a tether hook at front and rubber mat on bottom. Still the legs on the first tempt me despite the $$ and the shy girl will def take a bit of training to get into that one but doable. Puppy will fly up in that one I bet tho. :)


Honored Member
Snooks, not sure if you looked at the larger photos, but the legs are detachable, there is a collar/tether "thingy" (sorry for the technical term there), and a mat on the bottom. Might work, altho def not cheap. ??


Experienced Member
I don't really know... Jewel has the same problem! I usually hold her until she calms down. The groomers say she is just the NICEST, SWEETEST, most COOPERATIVE dog... PSHT! Not for me! LOL I am going to try something, I will update you later if it works... Good luck!


Experienced Member
ah didn't notice legs come off!! ha! thanks.

please let us know how it works out with Jewel :)


Honored Member
Debby, mine didn't either, but, Buddy's early votes were completely vetoed.

but, it's been remarkable, how overtime, he has become accustomed to them, and just goes along with them, and is calm in the tub now. Took a while, but, he has figured out, "i guess i do live through this afterall..."

ONe tip i was grateful for, that i got here on DTA, was, use tepid water, i mean barely warm water, not real warm like we use. Made a difference for Buddy, he was way way more comfy then....

poor lil thing, i was probably making him really uncomfortable in those early days...I'm sorry Bud!


New Member
Hi lucy97,

Most of the dogs just hates water and they don't want to even touch water...It is really difficult to make them feel good in water.
Instead of a bath, try giving him a shower. This is especially good if you have one of the hand-held shower heads. Your dog should feel much more relaxed and less scared standing on firm ground than in a tub of water. You will probably stay much drier, and you may even get less of a backache. Your dog can get just as clean and get a cleaner rinse, and the wetting and rinsing process is so much quicker this way.
If you do bathe your dog in the tub, you will need a rubber bath mat inside the tub. This will prevent him from slipping and will make him feel much more secure.
Some people like to bathe the dog outside with the hose and a bucket. This may be fine on a nice hot day.:dogtongue2:



Active Member
First start off by making it a fun experience! Bring out her favorite toy and lots of treats. DO NOT use one of those spray nozzle things! I cannot emphasize that enough. They tend to scare dogs. try using just a really nice drizzle setting. Start by dipping your hand in water. Rub it all over your dogs body. Speak to her in a low comforting voice. Continue to do that until she's fully relaxed. When she seems relaxed try drizzling the water on her with a sponge and always using your hand and rubbing her a lot! Slowly graduate to using the hose. Good Luck!:D

James Mann

Active Member
When Shadow was just a few months old I took her and our son on a fishing trip to a quarry that had flooded years ago. The rangers stocked it with bass and it makes a great place to take kids for a day of fishing.

Shadow saw the water and headed straight for it. She ran right off the bank of the pond which was at least 10 feet to the water. Steve freaked and thought for sure she was going to drown. It kind of startled me as well but I tried my best to hide it.

Shadow just paddled her way to a spot where I could fish her out. She had no problems with water and even liked getting a bath, as long as we didn't make her sit in the water.