Abe has gotten baths once or twice a week since I got him, just to get him in the routine. Plus, it was a requirement from my dad (yes, I live at home… Still paying off student loans). He’s always tolerated it okay, but he’s always been nervous, and he’s never taken food while I bathe him, so I decided to go back and spend the time to make it a more pleasant experience for him. I started by asking him to come into the bathroom and into the tub to get peanut butter (there’s the magic ingredient again). He took some convincing the first few times, but it got easier every time. When he was in the tub, I wouldn’t turn the water on. I’d just praise him, touch him all over like I was bathing him, and give him PB. After a few days of this, I turned the water on until there was a little water around his feet, and then I touched him all over and gave him more PB. Few more days, and he was hopping into the tub on his own, totally relaxed! That’s how I knew he was ready for a full bath, which he got today. He was still a little nervous, but he ate PB the whole time. When dogs get nervous to the point of shutting down, they won’t take food, so since he was eating, he was able to process the experience. He did so well! This bath routine will be the standard practice from now on. Good boy!
Edit to add:
About an hour after his bath, I went to put his collar back on, and he got upset and nipped/growled at me. Didn’t make contact, nor did he seem to intend to. But if I had pushed to immediately try again, he would have. Instead, I took him outside, wearing the slip-lead he was wearing for his bath. I always have something on him; normally it’s his collar, but when I take it off for bath time, he wears the slip-lead until after I put his collar back on. I do this exactly for sitiations like these. If he weren’t wearing the slip-lead, I wouldn’t have been able to redirect him to a situation where he was okay with me putting his collar back on. Once outside, I was able to put it back on.
I’ve noticed that if I try to mess with him when I’m on his level (him sitting on the couch with me, me sitting on the floor with him, etc), he gets overwhelmed. Same if I were to lean over his head from the front while standing. If I lean over him while facing the same direction as he is, he’s okay.
As much as I would love to be able to do whatever I want with/to him, I have to be careful. I need to be aware of what I’m doing and how he perceives the situation, regardless of how well he seems to be doing at the time. I’m learning every day!