Shiba Inu bath time for for some Shiba Inus (and their owners) can be quite an unnerving experience.

Shiba Inus are known to be dogs that are not big fans of grooming rituals.

From nail clipping, tooth brushing and the necessary bath - some Shibas are just not havin’ it.

Some may scream, some will screech and others will try to run.

Basically not the greatest experience for all parties involved.

The first and most important to thing to remember is to not get frustrated and take it on your Shiba.

Losing your temper, raising your voice, and reprimanding your Shiba will only make the situation worse.

Your Shiba Inu will hate the situation even more now while beginning to lose trust in you.

Shiba Inus are more primitive compared modern dogs like Labradors and therefore are not as accustomed to excessive handling.

So you musn’t compare your Shiba to these dogs. But of course you already know that. 

shiba inu bathing

While you may have already decided that it may be impossible to make bath time tolerable - there are methods that with patience and persistence - help you and your Shiba manage a stress-free bath time.

Or at the very least, a less stressful bath time

Why Do Some Shibas Hate Bathing So So Much?

Shiba Inus are a basal dog breed which means they are basically a very “old” or primitive dog breed.

Other primitive dog breeds that you may be familiar with include the Chow Chow, Basenji, and Shar-pei.

Primitive dog breeds retain more of their “wilder” instincts compared to other dogs that have been domesticated by man for a longer period.

So you can basically think of your Shiba Inu as a true fox-like dog which is how many describe Shiba Inus anyway.

Just like wild foxes, some Shibas just are not fond of handling or being introduced to new people or situations that they are not accustomed to.

However, just as with wild foxes, proper socialization and desensitizing can work wonders for your Shiba Inu.

shiba inu compared to red fox

Was Your Shiba Inu Socialized and Desensitized During The Critical Puppy Period?

By far, the biggest key in achieving this is to start young - ideally when your Shiba Inu is between 6 -14 weeks of age.

During this period which is referred to as the critical puppy development period, your Shiba Inu will be the most impressionable.

It is during this phase that many Shiba Inu puppies learn new fears that if not corrected - will last throughout their lifetime.

These fears include noises, grooming / handling, and socializing.

Adult Shiba Inus who are fearful of grooming likely did not get proper exposure and training during their critical puppy development period.

shiba inus taking a bath

While it is still possible to train adult dogs using the same desensitization techniques the process is much harder.

On a scale of 1-10, training a Shiba Inu puppy would be around a 4-6, while training an adult Shiba would be an 8-10 in difficulty.

So if your Shiba Inu is a still a puppy, be sure to being socialization / desensitization as soon as possible.

By putting all of your attention, time, and heart into training your Shiba Inu puppy early who will save yourself from undue stress in the future.

How Often To Bath a Shiba Inu?

A common misconception by MANY dog owners is that bathing a dog too often will strip the natural oils away from their coat.

This, for the most part, is not true.

This misconception or myth likely stems from the fact that a long time ago, dog shampoos were manufactured out of cheap and harsh lye-based ingredients.

Nowadays, the quality of dog shampoos and conditioners have dramatically improved.

Using a quality, chemical-free, organic dog shampoo and rinsing thoroughly will ensure that you don't have to worry causing any damage to your dog's coat. (Note: All dogs are different. Some dogs do have certain skin conditions and / or a hypersensitivities that make them sensitive to plain water.) It's best to consult with your vet if you believe your dog has any of these conditions.

The truth is, not bathing your dog often enough can actually be detrimental to the health and well-being of both your dog and your family.

Veterinarians recommend that dogs with skin allergies be bathed routinely to help with their condition. This is because bathing reduces the amount of bacteria present in the coat thereby reducing irritation and inflammation.

Humans with allergies - especially pet allergies, will benefit from a dog that is bathed routinely as well.

Routine bathing will also ensure that your family and your Shiba Inu can coexist in a healthy and clean environment.

Dog's coats are like carpets - they'll pick up and hold on to germs, allergens, feces / urine, pests, and odors.

Finding a reasonable bathing schedule for your Shiba will ensure that all hugs, snuggles, and cuddles will be pleasant for everyone.

wet shiba inu after bathing

Shiba Inu Bathing Frequency Recommendations:

Based on the advice and tips from Shiba Inu breeders, groomers, and veterinarians, we feel that it is perfectly safe to bath indoor Shiba Inus every two to three weeks. 

Many professional dog groomers say that frequent bathing helps shedding in double-coated dogs like Shiba Inus.

For outdoor Shiba Inus, the time can be stretched to every 6 - 8 weeks. 

Please remember, these time ranges are for reference only. Every dog, and every Shiba Inu is different.

Some dogs just love mud and will need to bathed more frequently. Certain dogs have bad skin allergies that require bathing at least once a week. 

Shiba Inus living and walking in a busier and "grimier" city should be bathed more often than Shibas living in a cleaner, suburban environment.

So remember, don't base your Shiba Inus bath schedule on an out-dated wive's tale. Just use your judgement and experiment what works best for your Shiba.

Shiba Inu Bathing Protocol

Depending on how resistant your Shiba Inu is to bathtime, you can choose to skip some of the steps outlined in the protocol.

Every situation is different and every Shiba Inu is different. Try implementing the steps that you think will best help your Shiba Inu enjoy their “magical” bath time.

Clear Out Your Schedule As Well as Your Mind

If bath time is already stressful for you Shiba Inu, don’t make it worse by trying to bathe your Shiba Inu when you are short on time or patience.

Make sure you allow at least 45 minutes of time for bathing.

Clear Your Head

Whatever you do, don’t attempt to bathe your Shiba Inu if you are in a bad or sad mood.

Dogs are said to be one of the most perceptive animals on Earth.

Any form of negative energy from you will affect how your Shiba Inu reacts during bath time.

Secondly, you must clear all preconceived notions about how you think bath time “should be”.

smiling and happy shiba inu

For example, you may have once had a dog that absolutely adored bath time. Bath time was fun and bath time was easy.

You need to forget that and understand that just like humans, all dogs have different likes, dislikes, and fears.

If bathing your Shiba Inu is difficult, Instead of getting angry and frustrated, try instead to have empathy for your dog.

Your Shiba Inu doesn’t mean to make bath time feel like a World War and is instead trying to express their fears and insecurities to you.

Your then, must take the lead and convey confidence, firmness, and warmth.

Get Bath Prepared Beforehand

It’s best practice to prepare the bath in advance so you don’t have to scramble for a forgotten towel and leave your dog unattended in the bathtub.

Gather all towels, brushes, shampoo / conditioner, non-slip tub mat, and other bath accessories together and arrange them in a logical fashion.

Other helpful bath accessories include a large plastic bowls or cups to use for mixing shampoo liquid and pouring water.

shiba inu dog bath setup

Brushes like the Zoom Groom are to use during bathing to brush the shampoo into your dog’s fur and generate suds.

Alternatively, human hair scalp massagers work great as well. 

If using dog treats during bath training, put them in the bathing area as well so the smell can fill the room.

Go For a Short, Brisk Walk

Dog’s that are hot are more likely to tolerate water than those that are not.

Additionally, the brisk exercise will help release some energy and get your dog’s endorphins cycling.

shiba inu going walk

Try to make the walk as brisk possible to give your Shiba Inu a good work out.

Exercising your Shiba beforehand will allow your Shiba to be more relaxed during bath time.

Also, your “hot” Shiba Inu will “hopefully” appreciate getting cooled down by a bath.

Pinpointing Your Shiba Inu’s Bath Fears

There are various reasons dogs dislike baths.

Some just don’t like water while others may be bothered by the noise of running water.

One not-to-known reason why many dogs don’t like baths is the slippery surface of the tub. 

When placed in a tub, does your dog seem to suddenly freeze up, widen his or her stance, and seem to be trying to grip the tub?

If so, you’ve sucessfully found one of the reasons bathtime is appealing to your Shiba.

And this reason can easily be remedied by using a large non-slip bath and / or towel on the floor of the tub.

One of the principal reasons why many dogs hate baths is the loud noises or running water or shower head sprays.

For these dogs, try to keep the use of running water to a minimum by utilizing buckets.

Depending on the size of your Shiba Inu and the size of your buckets, you may need at least three buckets for one bath. One bucket would be used for sudsy shampoo water, while the rest would be used for rinsing.

A clean plant water would work well for initially wetting your dog as well as rinsing. If you don’t have a basic plastic cup or container will also work fine.

dog bath temperature recommendation
Be Careful About Water Temperature

Another commonly overlooked cause of bath uneasiness for dogs is water temperature.

While we humans enjoy warm water temperatures dogs may found warm water uncomfortable.

The best temperature to start with is lukewarm water or water that is a few degrees warmer than lukewarm.

Basically dog’s don’t like too warm water nor cold water - it has to be just right…

Strong Shampoo Smell

Dog’s have a superb sense of smell. And while you think your dog’s shampoo and conditioner smell great - your dog may find the smell overpowering.

If your dog sneezes or squirms when you apply shampoo, that could be a sign that you should try a different shampoo.

Calm Shiba Inu Bath Goals:

Okay, Time To Bathe Your Shiba Inu

Once you are ready to begin the bath, ensure that you maintain a positive, yet firm demeanor.

Don’t use too much baby talk as dogs have more confidence in a strong, confident leaders.

Too many dog owners mistakenly think that using soft, baby talk will comfort and reassure their dogs when in reality - the opposite is true.

Have you ever noticed that some of the worst behaved dogs have owners that “baby” them instead of confidently leading them.

Proceed to bathe your Shiba while keeping his or her fear triggers in mind.

If your Shiba Inu is spooked by loud running water, remember to utilize a water bucket system and keep noise levels down to a minimum.

If your Shiba Inu is fearful of slipping in the tub, make sure you use a large enough non-slip tub mat or towel.

shiba inu ready for bath time

If you can’t cover the entire surface of the tub, make sure your prevent your Shiba from walking on the uncovered area.

Talking to your Shiba while bathing will help to distract and refocus your Shiba Inus attention.

Try incorporating massage while lathering to make the experience more enjoyable. Dogs enjoy massages just like humans do. 

Praise your Shiba Inu whenever possible for good behavior. You can also try rewarding with treats.

However, a lot of dogs won’t be receptive to receiving food when they are uncomfortable but it’s worth a shot.

Try avoiding getting your splashing water into your Shiba’s eyes as much as possible. Most dogs don’t like getting water in their eyes, ears, and noses.

End the bath on a positive note regardless of your Shiba’s behavior during bath time.

By using the steps outlined in this guide and addressing your Shiba Inu’s fear triggers head on - your Shiba Inus bath time behavior should improve over time.

black and tan shiba inu playing with a rubber duckie

Bathing Shiba Inus With Serious Anxiety

Some Shiba Inus with higher anxiety levels can make bath time almost impossible or dangerous.

In these situations, the help of a professional dog trainer should be considered.

Firstly, any dog that snaps or bites their owners has serious behavior issues that needs to be addressed as soon as possible

Any form of aggression, especially biting should never be tolerated.

Bathing and grooming will be a responsibility of yours for the rest of your Shiba Inu’s life, so investing now in additional help is likely to be well worth the cost.

Additionally, a dog behaviorist will be able to help you tackle any other behavior issues that is affecting the relationship between you and your Shiba as well as others in your family.

If your Shiba Inu normally behaves well but simply freaks out during baths, you may be able to address the issue using the steps outlined above along with a muzzle for additional safety.

If you decide to use a muzzle, make sure to allow your Shiba Inu time to get adjusted to muzzle wearing (few weeks - minimum) before attempting to use it while bathing.

Medications

Anti-anxiety medication can be considered for Shiba Inus with serious anxiety issues. This topic should be discussed with your veterinarian.

Natural supplements are available but the effectiveness and quality can vary substantially.

shiba inu in bath cap

Professional Groomers

If bathing your Shiba Inu is simply too much for you to handle, you may find success taking your Shiba Inu to a reputable groomer.

The quality and experience of professional groomers can vary substantially.

For this reason, avoid going to "chain-store" type groomers and instead seek professionals that have accreditation and experience working with difficult dog breeds.

If you find an experienced groomer that can give your Shiba Inu a bath with minimal issues you can eventually learn the techniques to do it yourself.

However, give it some time and let your Shiba Inu get used to the bathing process a bit before attempting to try it again yourself.

Final Thoughts

For many Shiba Inu grooming rituals can be scary, frustrating, and sometimes hopeless.

Don't get discouraged too easily.

Shiba Inus are smart and intuitive animals that can sometimes just "snap" out if it and learn to be cooperative when they realized that their fears are unsubstantiated.

However, the most important part of this equation is you.

You need to take the initiative to be a patient and calm yet firm owner willing to experiment with processes that help.  You also need to be aware of behaviors and triggers that hinder progress.

Reading this article and trying to be as informed as you can is already a great step. 

Improvement often takes quite a bit of time, but with perseverance is not an impossible feat.


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