Why Do Dogs Act Crazy After a Bath?

Many dogs act crazy after a bath and dog owners often wonder what's going on with their pals. Let's face it, bath time causes a mixed bag of reactions in dogs, there are dogs who love baths, dogs who dread them, and then, you have dogs who act crazy after a bath. What's wrong with these dogs? Last time you took a bath, you didn't go insane!

 Dogs who get the so called after-bath "zoomies," or how us dog trainers call them, "FRAPs," which stands for frenetic random activity periods, must have their own plausible reasons for engaging in such behavior. 

Until the day comes where dogs can open their mouths and talk, we can only make some assumptions as to why dogs act so hyper after a bath. A good place to start though is by looking at the dog's behavior history and overall body language.

Phew, What a Relief!

Does your dog walk the other way as soon as he sees you grab a towel and some doggy shampoo? Does he go AWOL when he hears you fill up the tub with water? If so, most likely you own a bath-phobic dog.

Well, let's think about this, how do you feel after you must endure something that you perceive unpleasant such as seeing the dentist or sitting on a particularly turbulent plane if you hate flying? Most likely, if you're like me, you'll feel like kissing the ground once you have landed and the whole ordeal is over.

If your dog is the type who gets stressed out at bath time and resents being restrained, those zoomies may be his way of releasing stress and celebrating the fact that the dreaded bath-time is over. It's the official post-bath time party, if you will.

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"Gosh, I can't wait for this to be over with!"

Yay, Time To Celebrate!

On the other paw, what if your dog is the type who loves water? You know, those dogs who given the opportunity wouldn't think twice about jumping into a pool or playing with sprinkler. In this case, the after-bath zoomies may just be a playful way for such dogs to express their joy of being around water.

These dogs will act excited after a bath, but their zoomies aren't exclusive to baths, they'll likely also go crazy after swimming in a pool, pond or simply after being out in the rain. Some dogs also go crazy after eating as a way to celebrate the reassuring effect of having a full tummy and a sense of satiety. Dogs are just joyful beings who want to celebrate.

The after bath zoomies may be particularly strong in dog breeds who love water. Many dog breeds were selectively bred to perform tasks that required them to stay in the water. Breeds of dogs who generally love water include Labrador retrievers, golden retrievers, poodles and Portuguese water dogs, but don't worry, any dog can be conditioned to like water if you make it fun. 

Anyhow, put two water loving dogs together in the water and after a bath, and you'll likely see them play together with the happiest "smiles" on their faces! But wait, there's also another possible explanation for those post-bath zoomies...

Doggy Rinse Cycle

In a previous article, we discussed why dogs shake their fur and talked about how good dogs are in removing water from their coats with a simple shake. We might not realize it, but after a bath, dogs carry quite a load with all that soaking wet fur.

Just consider that according to Andrew K.Dickerson, Zachary G.Mills and David L.Hu in a study published in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface, a wet 60-pound dog is forced to carry an extra pound of wet fur around and allowing it to evaporate would require about 20 percent of his daily caloric intake!

That's a big energy expense! Fortunately, dogs are blessed with an effective mechanism that gets rid of 70 percent of water from their coats in as little as four seconds: you got it, it's the famous after-bath shake! 

On top of shaking their coats, dogs may feel compelled to romp around the house or yard in hopes of further facilitating the drying process. With the increased air flow and other behaviors such as rolling on the carpet, rubbing against the coach, the bed (and people too!) your dog is simply trying to get dry and back to normal fast. 

After all, we can't blame our canine companions, in the wild, should furry mammals get wet when temperatures plummet, the risks for hypothermia are real if they can't find measures to dry themselves quickly!

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Doggy rinse cycle in action...

Gimme My Smell Back!

One last theory as to why dogs romp back and forth, jump onto furniture and roll on the ground as they step out of the tub, comes from authors D. Caroline Coile and Margaret H. Bonham in the book "Why Do Dogs Like Balls."

Dogs who act crazy when wet may act that way simply because they may want to get their smell back. Yes, to put it bluntly, that wonderful shampoo you purchased from the pet store smells like poo-poo shampoo to your dog, so he can't wait to go back to... ugh, smelling like a dog again!

Dogs are perfectly happy with their natural scents and oils or whatever they most recently rolled over in.

Did you know? According to Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, the frenzied play activity dogs engage in after they are given a bath, may be a good example of Solomon's opponent process theory, a theory that views emotions as pairs of opposites (in this case, most likely fear-relief).

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A dog trying to get rid of the "stink" of the shampoo

Now That You Know...

As seen, dogs have their own good reasons for acting crazy after a bath. Following are some tips to help you deal with your dog's after bath zoomies.

  • Hire a groomer. If your dog is driving you nuts after being bathed, you may want to enlist the help of a groomer. A good groomer is experienced in keeping your dog under control and will wash and dry your dog so that you'll pick him up smelling fresh like a bouquet of roses. Of course though, keep an eye on him once home, avoiding access to dirty puddles and mud!
  • Invest in dry shampoo. Does your dog need a bath but you don't feel like dealing with the zoomies? You can dry a dry shampoo. The goal is to absorb the excess oils in the dog's coat. Skip the ones full of chemicals such as paraben, artificial colors and fragrances. Look instead for a very basic or try cornstarch (as long as your dog isn't allergic to corn).
  • For dogs who hate baths, take steps to make them a more pleasant activity. Play with your dog and feed him treats during battime, massage him, sing to him happy songs.
  • As soon as the bath is over and you have removed most of the excess water, clip on the leash and take your dog on a nice walk to dry him up.
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