You don’t have to worry about your Golden Retriever, not loving water: Most just love to jump into water — whether a lake or a puddle. Taking a bath, though, may be another matter altogether. Here’s your chance to demonstrate to your dog that baths aren’t the demons they originally thought and know how to bathe a dog. And you’ll both benefit from that!
So where do you begin?
Teach your Golden Retriever to love — or at least not be fearful of — the tub even before you give her that very first bath. I call this “pre-bath” training. It takes a little bit of time on your part, as well as some planning, but it’s oh so worth it knowing how to bathe a dog! The exercises teach your Golden to accept a bath without putting up resistance or becoming fearful.
You start by simply putting him in the empty tub. (It doesn’t get much simpler than this). Praise him. You can even give him a treat. If he stays in there quietly, allow him to get out. On the other hand, if he struggles, hold him firmly — but gently — in the tub while you talk to him softly. He’ll stop struggling. Now you can give him a treat and take him out of the tub.
Should he get out of the tub before this, don’t praise or reward him. The aim of the exercise, after all, is to provide him with an understanding that he must remain in the tub.
Repeat this process — you could even approach it as a game — at least once, ideally twice, a day. Do this several days in a row, each time requiring him to stay in for longer periods of time.
Once you feel he’s comfortable with the dry tub, add some lukewarm water to it. Put in just enough water so his feet are wet —nothing more. Do this daily. When you feel he’s comfortable with this much water, then you’re going to go to the next step.
Place him in the tub and wet his body with a sprayer or by pouring water on him. Reward him when he doesn’t resist or make a fuss. Praise him while you’re wetting him down as well. Once he accepts all of this, then he’s ready for the real deal.