It finally had to happen, Dart got his monthly-ish bath.
They are not his favorite, but spray cheese is!
Does anyone’s dog love bath time? My pups have always politely acted like I’m torturing them. They’ll put up with it, grudgingly, but expertly shoot me the saddest looks possible when I have to shove them under the faucet or drench them with a cup full of water.
But those clean-dog wiggles are the best!
Getting from “mom, you’re drowning me” to “mom, you’re the best” is the real trick.
During his bath, Dart gets to experience all sorts of sensory stimulation. Frequently I’d say that’s great. After all, rich sensory experiences = content dog (usually). In this case it’s a little different. While he’s in the tub, Dart’s feet and nails are on an unfamiliar slippery surface and he just can’t help but feel insecure. When I get the water temperature right, I can only imagine it’s a nice sensation on his skin. But can you guess how he feels to have that water splashed all over him when he’s not ready? Not so fun! I personally kinda like to be in charge of my own showers, but Dart doesn’t get that luxury.
Some of these sensory experiences have a negative effect on our pups when all of the sensations and stimuli start to get overwhelming or are associated with a negative feeling. After a few uncomfortable baths, you’d also quickly learn to strategize ways to avoid the situation.
Cue the spray cheese 😉
There are some great products out there designed for dogs, but I typically find it easier to grab a can of generic spray cheese on my regular grocery trips. The key is to check the ingredient labels for ingredients toxic to dogs. Xylitol is a major concern; it’s a sugar-free sweetener that’s toxic to dogs. I have hopes we won’t stoop as low as to start adding sweetener to cheese, but Americans are obsessed with sweet, so always best to check the ingredients.
I haven’t bothered yet to buy a cute toy that attaches to my tub for my doggo to lick cheese off of. First of all, the can is a great delivery system to spray yumminess right into his mouth. Second, if I spray the cheese in a line right on the tub wall, I can count on him cleaning it up for me, so no need to worry about the mess. Now, if Dart was absolutely terrified in the tub, then I’d definitely have to give him a constant stream of cheese to keep him happy. Or find a groomer with a Fear Free certification.
By adding rewarding, delicious cheese to the bath experience, Dart can begin to make some association between the two. If bath=cheese, and cheese=fun, then maybe someday bath=fun.
Until then, I’ll just keep the experience as calm, secure, and rewarding as possible for my Dart ❤