Bath Time “Training”

Otis needed a bath, and Otis needed to do some confidence exercises. Naturally the practical solution was to combine the two into one bathing-training session! I actually shouldn’t give myself that much credit because I wasn’t planning on using bath time as a learning experience – but when we got into the bathroom I realized it was as good a chance as ever to fit in some “new experiences can be fun” training.

In fact, Otis prompted it when he didn’t resist getting into the bath right away (I guess I just have a bad track record when it comes to fosters that don’t appreciate water).  I jumped at the chance to ask him into the tub with lots of encouragement and praise. To my surprise, he hopped right in! So then I asked him to come out. He hopped right out! In, out, in, out. He was ready to do it all day.

He was much more comfortable before the water started though. Once I got the shower snake running, he turned into a little bit more of a scaredy pup, but he was still a trooper. “Mom, I really want to get out. Can I please? Pretty please? Ugh. Fine. I’ll stay. But I won’t like it.” After surviving a round of soaping, rinsing, and conditioning, it was on to his next favorite part: drying off! The shower snake was gone, and it was nothing but exciting attention from fostermama.

And of course it wouldn’t be a good spa day without relaxing in a robe after your bath. . .

The result was a fresh smelling, sparkly clean and happy pup! Which was good, because he had a very special visit to prepare for the next day.


The Bathtub Saga

Baxter has learned to tolerate, accept, and be brave towards many things in his new life as a house dog. He flies up and down stairs now, he hops in the car with no question, he doesn’t startle at the loud sound of someone dropping something upstairs. He has not, however, become friends yet with bath time.

For whatever reason (oh, I don’t know – maybe the small space, the loud rushing water, or the slippery floors) Baxter finds fear in the bathroom. He panics and shuts down as soon as the door closes. I could probably pick him up and force him to stay still while I quickly soap him up and rinse him off, but his poor trembling body its efforts to get out of the tub for the entire time just makes it a traumatizing experience for both of us.

So what do I do? Turn to Baxter’s always reliable friend: food.

This feat of luring with food was more difficult with the tub than it’s been with other hurdles. I put Baxter’s whole meal inside the tub so he had to climb in on his own. This is pretty irresistible for a little chubster like Baxter. He initially had some trouble figuring out how to get in the tub, walking back and forth to me in my room many times making his “mama, I can’t get my dinner!” noises [insert serious puppy eyes here]. I’m not sure if that was fear based or just plain dumb-dog syndrome.

After a few meals Baxter is now fine with getting in to the tub on his own to eat his kibble (you can see in the pictures below I had to make him a little step stool out of towels).  He still gets a little nervous when I walk into the bathroom with him, scared that I’ll pull the dreaded spitting snake out of the sky to terrorize him. For now, I just walk in and out calmly while he is eating so he doesn’t associate me with the spitting snake. I have even gotten him to eat his dinner in the tub with the water running softly!

It will still take a long time for him to be okay with me in there with him, not to mention putting water and sudsy stuff all over him. I haven’t been as diligent about desensitizing him as I should be, so I don’t doubt that this situation will be similar to the other obstacles he’s overcome – once he figures it out he’ll be okay with it. Silly Bax just needs a little bit of extra reassurance, and that is what foster homes are for

I’ll try to keep you updated with Baxter’s progress on the bathtub. We will continue to work on it and be patient in hopes that someday in the next few weeks we can produce soapy dog pictures!

For more information on adopting Comeback Kid Baxter, click here or email peacelovefoster@gmail.com.