How do I get my German Shepherd to take a bath? What to Do When Your Dog is Afraid of Water?

Sometimes your dog may be afraid of new things – and that may be water or bathing. When his first time is unsuccessful, the dog will associate water or baths with something scary.

German shepherds, especially puppies, occasionally might become afraid of water. This is most often due to the fact that it is something completely new or a previous traumatic experience that has managed to solidify into a fear.

With the necessary patience and discipline, your German shepherd will be able to love baths and become an eager swimmer.

Bathing your German shepherd for the first time

You will have to approach your German shepherd’s first bath with great patience and care. While you’re at it, there may be mixed feelings for both of you. Don’t discourage yourself!

Some dogs approach the water with joyful curiosity, while others may be wary and show fear from the very beginning. It is important to carefully and properly accustom your German shepherd to bathing.

If you don’t do it properly, bathing can become a traumatic experience for your pet. This kind of experience is likely to leave a deep mark on your dog’s psyche and weigh you down for a lifetime.

When bathing your pet for the first time, it is very important to do it properly.

  • Take care that the bathtub is not slippery. Do this by putting a towel or rubber pad on the bottom of the tub.

Extremely important: German shepherds have long paws, and slipping in the tub can cause their legs to split. Not only is this painful for the shepherd, but it can also cause serious injury.

By placing something in the bathtub to give your dog a grip, you can help them feel reassured.

  • Never use cold water.

It is important to make bathing a pleasant experience for your shepherd. Cold water can make your dog anxious and even panic. Simply bathe him in warm water.

  • Don’t use a rain shower or strong spray from the shower.

It is very important that your dog does not feel overwhelmed. A sudden downpour of water can be shocking to your dog. Stock up on a special pet washer cap. If possible, buy a pet spray attachment for your faucet. This will allow you to control the strength and direction of the water stream.

It might seem like a fun idea, but you shuld not spray on your dog’s mouth.
  • Do not spray directly on your dog’s mouth.

Pay attention to your dog’s nose and eyes. Spraying dogs directly is very uncomfortable for them. Use a towel to wash your dog’s muzzle. Make sure you hold him by the chin so that all the water runs off his nose.

  • Consider bathing with a leash.

This will keep your dog in place and make it easier for you to control him when he’s wet and slippery. And it also won’t run off and make a grand around the room.

  • Use only shampoos designed for dogs.

Your German shepherd’s skin is more sensitive than yours. So use only shampoos designed specifically for dogs and containing only natural ingredients.

  • Reward your shepherd both during and after.

You may find it helpful to give your dog a small treat or two during the bath. Rewards are great for distracting your dog from bathing. And after the bath is over, it’s a good idea to give your dog a bone or other long-lasting chew treat. This way, patience and calmness during the bath will be associated with your dog as a reward.

How to bathe a dog who is afraid of water and get Him used to bathing?

To get your dog used to being washed and provide him with a stress-free bath, you will first need to change your dog’s current behavior and develop new habits. This is easy but will require some love, patience, and time from you.

  1. At the very beginning, put him on a leash and walk him around the house – but not near the bathroom. If all goes well, give him a treat, praise him and let him out. The dog needs to unlearn that the leash is associated with the bathtub. You may have already completed this step.
  2. Then, using only the collar, enter the bathroom with him and close the door. Sit on the floor, play with him for a while, and then get up and leave. Don’t make a sensation out of it. Make it a normal thing. Do this regularly for a few weeks. Just a few minutes is enough.
  3. Make sure there is a rubber mat on the bottom of the tub/shower. Take him by the leash and lead him into the paddling pool or tub. He mustn’t slip and scratch with his claws. Do not frighten him. You can trim his claws beforehand.
  4. Once he is in the tub or paddling pool, hold him for a few seconds. If you notice that he relaxes (e.g. lets out a loud sigh), praise him, give him a treat and let him leave. If he starts to run away or makes a ruckus, don’t reward him but don’t punish him either.
  5. After a few successful attempts, try gently turning off the water, but don’t soak him.
  6. Then, try getting his paws wet and wipe him with a towel.
  7. After a few more times, you can finally try bathing him.
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Over time, you will be able to develop positive associations and habits related to bathing. I realize that this may seem difficult, tedious, and the process long, but it will allow your dog to learn that bathing is not as scary, as he probably thinks. And especially when he notices that he will get lots of praise and treats for good behavior.

Can a dog go into cold water?

When bathing your dog, do not use cold water. Cold water does not make cleaning easier. Heat some water beforehand and bring it to the field. It is supposed to be warm. Never hot – it can burn the skin. You will have a more obedient and happier pet if you use warm water.

Sometimes the only choice may be water from a garden hose, which is a bit cooler. Then it’s worth making sure it’s hot outside – so your dog doesn’t get chilled. During a hot day, cooler water will be refreshing for him. However, it is best to use lukewarm water and avoid cold water.

When bathing outside, reduce the pressure of the water coming from the hose. Don’t hit your pet with a strong, unpleasant stream of water. With some hoses, you’ll need a cap to keep the water from pouring too fast. Instead, you can first fill a bucket with warm water and pour it over your dog if the water stream from the hose is too repellent for him. Don’t pour water over your dog’s mouth, nose, or ears – this is very unpleasant for them.

Fear of Water Bodies

Swimming Pool

An open pool can be something scary for a German shepherd. If you own a large, open pool in your garden, it has certainly crossed your mind what would happen if your shepherd jumped into it.

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For this reason, if you want to protect your dog from pool-related anxieties, you must follow the tips below:

  • Take your time. Allow your dog to familiarize himself with the pool and his surroundings on his own. If possible, let him off the leash and let him explore on his own.
  • Don’t just jump into the pool and expect your dog to jump after you.

This can have a very bad effect on the dog. German shepherds are protective by nature and may get the impression that you are in danger. This can lead the dog to panic because its main goal will become to get you out of the water.

Ideally, you should sit on the edge of the pool with your feet in the water while your dog becomes familiar with his surroundings. This way you will show that water is just another thing, not a threat.

  • Keep the number of people near the pool to a minimum – it will help your dog stay focused and calm.
  • Consider using a kiddie pool – it’s a good way to get your dog accustomed to the water. They are small and less intimidating to your dog.
  • Consider swimming lessons for your dog. Depending on where you live, there may be swimming lessons for dogs.

Such swimming lessons for your dog can be a great solution because dog pools are specially designed for learning to swim. Entry into the water is gradual, and the instructor is familiar with dogs who are just learning to swim.

Remember, too, that many pools have a vinyl layer. A German shepherd’s claws can damage it very easily. So consider whether it’s worth it to let your pooch in the pool and/or the right pool to teach your dog to swim in.

Ponds and small lakes

If you can take your shepherd to some quiet pond or lake, you may find that this is a much better solution than letting him into the pool.

This is because a pond or lake is a natural environment. A German shepherd is likely to want to go into the water on its own out of curiosity. This is a more natural and comfortable outlet than a swimming pool.

  • Allow your shepherd to do some independent exploration. Let him explore the surroundings and all the new smells there by himself, at his own pace.
  • Don’t splash your dog. Even if the intention is to have fun. If this is the first time you are at the lake, it means it is a new experience for your dog. Allow him to play on his terms.
  • Don’t pour water on him. Pouring water may frighten him and make him afraid. Your dog doesn’t understand something like pouring and splashing, for him, it will be something like being attacked by water.
  • It is obvious that you should also want to get wet. Once you get into the water, plunge into it slowly, at a slow pace, getting deeper and deeper.
  • Stop every few steps as you go deeper. If your shepherd doesn’t want to follow you, gently encourage him. Never be pushy or unkind in your tone or gestures. After all, you don’t want to alienate him from you or the water.
  • Use a ball or a floating toy. This is ideal if your shepherd likes to fetch. To begin with, throw it on the shore. Gradually throw it toward the water. Let your dog overcome any limitations on his own. First, let him just get his paws wet, and so successively until he submerges.
  • Show your pet plenty of patience. You may find that your German shepherd is not yet ready for a bath. This is not a bad thing. Perhaps for the first time, you will only push the limit a little. Maybe on your next outing, the results will be much better.

German Shepherd By The Sea

Familiarizing your German shepherd with large bodies of water, such as large lakes or the sea, can be more difficult, and for a couple of reasons.

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First, your dog can’t see the water’s edge beyond what’s right in front of it. This can be unsettling for your pet. Second, the size and sound of the waves, and the incessant noise of the water, can be overwhelming for your dog.

You should be aware of this. It is best not to try to introduce your dog to the water while it is restless and rippling.

Can a dog drink seawater?

Seas and oceans have salt water, and it is dangerous for dogs. A few sips of salt water can only cause diarrhea. However, if a dog consumes a large amount of salt water, it can be fatal.

When a dog consumes salt water, the excess salt causes water to be drawn from the blood into the intestines, leading to diarrhea, vomiting, and dehydration. Salt water also disrupts the fluid balance in the dog’s body.

Normally, a dog tired of playing and running will want to drink water. Therefore, take breaks and give your dog fresh water. Have a water bottle and a small drinker or bowl with you. If you are taking your dog to the sea, be sure to limit the amount of time your dog spends in the water.

In conclusion, for a German shepherd not to be afraid of water and to overcome any fears and limitations, the most important things are calmness, patience, and perseverance.

Do not urge your dog. Let him approach everything at his own pace and use the few tips I’ve presented to you. Make your shepherd feel comfortable with you and have a great relationship with water.