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Hello, everyone. So I've got a tricky situation. I have a larger dog (shelter said Rhodesian Ridgeback, although I suspect some lab or something as well). However, he's terrified of water. With it getting into fall weather, I'd love to be able to bring him in, but first he needs a bath. At my old place, I had a bathtub with a sliding glass door, so I'd stick him in there and turn on the shower, opening the door just enough to clean him. He'd fight it, of course, but it got done.
I recently moved, and now live with my boyfriend. The problem is, we only have a stand-up shower, and it has a shower curtain (no sliding door). Outside, I've tried using a hose but he runs, tried holding his collar or putting the leash around the water pump but he'd choke himself fighting to get away. We even got a plastic kiddie pool and encouraged him with treats to check it out for days, he wouldn't go near it.
I'm at my wit's end over this. I don't want to traumatize him, but he really needs a bath before it gets cold, and I need him to be able to stay calm and let me bath him in the shower when it's too cold outside. Any ideas??
 

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He needs lots of time after you traumatized him by fighting him in the shower.
The kiddie pool idea will work, it is just going to take time, and your previous shower experience is the reason for that.
I'm really sorry he is living outside. He does need to come in and be with his people, his trust will grow faster if he is. You can designate an area for him and buy him a dog bed, if he is too smelly just use a commercial dry shampoo.
 

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hi! my first dog ever was a ridgeback. miss him every day. He was huge and also not a big fan of water. Only way I got him to take a bath was if I physically took the shower with him. (was a glass door standing shower) Now if I read your post right, before you moved in with the bf that was how you guys used to do it.
Have you tried getting into the kiddies pool with him? Otherwise the dry shampoo seems like a very good idea while you work on teaching him the kiddies pool is ok. best of luck!
 

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I would try getting into the shower with him—make it a fun thing. I had a 95lb yellow lab in middle and high school and there was no way I was going to be able to physically wrestle him into the bath, so I just did it after a run and got in wearing my running clothes because they dry fast. I usually ended up soaking wet and covered in his fur, but he was fine with it because he thought it was a game. You could try using a really high-value treat that he ONLY gets when it's bath time, too, like bits of chicken or hotdog.
 

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Do you have a groomer in your area? Maybe you can call or bring him in and they'll have a suggestion. They deal with all types of dogs. My one-year old Yorkie hates water but he's tiny, so we can handle it. Good luck. Your pup definitely needs to spend his time indoors.
 

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This is hard to word, but try to use water that sprays less or has less pressure. My big dog runs for the hills at the sight of sprinklers or a hose that's spraying water, but if I lower the speed at which the water comes out he is a lot less afraid and more manageable. He sure doesn't like it, but I can successfully hold him and get the bath done.

Try using a harness or something that will give you a stronger hold on him than a collar. Turn the water on a very low setting so it is coming out in a slow stream, and hold it up close to his body. Reassure him and offer him high-value treats, and keep the bathtime short and sweet. Don't increase the water's speed or pressure as that might frighten him.
 

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Get a hand shower attachment that slips over your bath nozzle. Available at most pet supply and hardware stores.

Pax gets a few baths a week as we go to the beach all the time. He does not hate it but tolerates it after much positive association training. I found it easiest to toss on some swim trunks then hop in the tub with him. I kneel down on my right knee and put my left knee against the side of the bath and his head is over my left leg creating a bit of a restricted area he can move. Quick lather and rinse and we are out in a jiffy...and with the hand shower, I do not really even get all that wet.
 

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Hello. I hope I can help. I work at a shelter, where we take care of many large dogs. Some are very traumatized and some were afraid of water, like your case. I recommend first introducing the dogs to your tub. We use those big stainless steel dog wash tubs, that are spacious and provide comfort for the dogs. We used to put treats in those and slowly bait the dog in there. However, we would not instantly bathe them, but rather just use a wet towel and massage them. They got used to being wet. Slowly, we would make the dog more calm and then we would slowly drip some more water onto him. In time, the dogs were not afraid anymore, but rather they enjoyed it. This took some time, but it was worth it. Now they don't fear water anymore. Thank you and good luck!
 

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Giving my cousin's maltese a bath- while she squirms- is such a task... I can only imagine how stressed I'd be if she were 10x the size!

What I did with my Boston was get him to "like" water by introducing it to him as much as possible. I would even hold him- while in the bath-(this is probably not an option for you but, you can still be in the bath with him) and use the detachable shower head and gently wet his paws then belly (he liked the warmth on his belly). In between, I'd give him his favorite toys and frozen yogurt chips and it would help. (By the way, I only gave him the frozen yogurt chips during bath time so he would associate it as "I get my yogurt chips if I'm in the bath" so, he would be more willing to.) I gradually started giving him full on baths (took me 2 weeks and then by a month he was okay with it) once he became comfortable and used to the water.

It's going to take a lot of patience and time but, he'll get there. He may not ever love or like the bath but, the more you try, he'll see it as being okay and that it's not going to hurt him.

I really encourage the treats and even going into the shower with him to add comfort.


Also, investing in organic/natural pet wipes is a great option too for pets who just hate water. I would first wash the pet and then wipe down everyday after they come in and out of the house. This should help with keeping them clean and having to bathe every 2 weeks to at least 3 weeks.


Best of luck.
 

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Yeah, it's fun, isn't it? Having a dog who bolts out of the tub mid wash with all the soapy foam spraying around the bathroom? :D

I also found out that Bri is more willing to get in the shower, when I'm with her. She doesn't like it, but she stays calm, and really looks forward to the towel rub (she loves that one!). Important for her is that the water is not running when she gets in the shower, but that I only turn it on when we're both in there and ready ;)
 
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