Picture the funniest cartoon you’ve ever seen as a family trying to give the family mutt a bath. That mutt is doing everything to change anyone’s notion that dogs love water. Pulling, jumping, growling, twisting, eyeball’s rolled back and ears flattened, the family dog is not in favor of a bath. No amount of “pretty girl” and “that’s not so bad” is comforting to the dog who is straining the soaked leash to ultimate capacity.
The bathers become as wet as the dog, not that the dog cares. Toenails snag skin and reddened welts rise to angry streaks. Once the soap is applied, the bather can’t quit. The soap has to be removed. The dog pulls and water squirts into her ear. She acts as though she is drowning. She shakes her head and becomes even more determined to NOT LET anyone with a hose or a can of water come near her.
That was Layla BEFORE we found the self-serve bathing pet store. Stairs up into a raised bath tub. A tether that allows for movement, but the dog is not pulling the bather across the yard or bathroom. Just right warm water from a selected shower head on the short hose. Water proof aprons for the bathers. Eight different shampoos and conditioners to choose from. All in a narrow gauge squirt bottle (No pouring shampoo in your hand and trying to apply it to the right wiggling spot.)
AND the very BEST part? Layla watched other dogs being bathed, blow dried and brushed. All of them quiet and seeming to enjoy the experience, or at least tolerate it with great dignity.
And did she watch those other dogs. For the first time in our experience, she actually stopped trying to escape every aspect of the bathing experience. She even withstood a hair dryer! This is fantastic for a 35 pound dog who has bested three adults in trying to trim her hair (we haven’t been able to win at toe nails, yet).
We have a lovely, clean dog who was not traumatized and we aren’t scheduling appointments for the chiropractor.
The major difference? The ability to be a silent observer of appropriate behavior. Watching others is a wonderfully GENTLE way of changing beliefs and behaviors. It even works well with us humans.
Instead of tugging, pulling, straining and losing everyone’s dignity, try finding that place where learning can occur without the loss of self-respect and the creation of more scar tissue.