Why do dogs dig in their water bowl?

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why do dogs dig in their water bowls?

There are a lot of things that dogs do that might confuse us. If you’ve ever seen dogs that dig in their water bowl a lot, you’re probably wondering why.

As things can quickly get messy, you’re also likely looking for ways to get him to stop.

This article has all the information and advice you need.

Why do dogs dig in their water bowl?

You should make sure that your dog always has access to clean, fresh water. Staying hydrated is important for your dog’s overall health.

But if your dog behaves weirdly around his water bowl, this can make keeping him hydrated difficult. That’s especially true if your dog is digging in his bowl and knocking all the water out.

So why exactly is your dog doing this? There could be several reasons. Before we get into it, check out these related articles about unusual dog behavior:

In short, though, your dog is digging in the water bowl for a few common reasons: It’s simply fun, he’s looking for attention, he’s hot, or he’s fascinated by his own reflection. He might prefer drinking water that moves. For some, unfortunately, it’s also compulsive behavior.

Let’s now get into these in a little more detail.

My dog is pawing the water bowl to get attention

You are one of the most important things in the world to your dog. That’s why it’s so important to your dog that he get your attention.

If your dog doesn’t feel like he’s getting the attention from you that he deserves, then you’re likely to find him acting out. One way he might do this by pawing at his water bowl.

You may have also been unintentionally reinforcing the behavior by giving him attention when he does this. Remember, when your dog is in a state like this, any attention is good attention. That includes you telling him “No!”

some dogs dig in their water bowl just to get your attention
Some dogs know that splashing around in their bowl will get your attention immediately.

Playing with water is fun for my dog

Dogs can be extremely childlike in a lot of ways. This is one example.

You might have seen kids splashing around in water before. To them, water is fascinating and they want to play with it to try and understand it!

This might be exactly what your dog is doing with his water bowl. He might think that splashing it around is fun, which is why he keeps doing it.

Dogs that are bred for swimming like Labrador Retrievers may be more prone to issues like this than other breeds.

My dog is hot and wants to cool off

You should pay attention when your dog is digging or splashing around in his water bowl. Have you noticed that he’s doing it on particularly hot days?

If that’s the case, then your dog could be trying to splash water on himself and cool himself off.

It’s important to make sure that your dog is at a good, comfortable temperature. This is to prevent potentially fatal conditions like heat stroke.

Looking for more information? Here are 13 signs and symptoms for heat stroke in dogs.

Many dogs prefer drinking moving water

Your dog could be kicking his water bowl because he feels better about drinking running water!

Dogs have many instincts that are remnants from their ancestors’ days in the wilderness. This could be one of them. Still water in the wild has a higher potential of being contaminated or unsafe. Running water, on the other hand, offers bad bacteria less opportunity to grow.

If this is the case with your dog, consider getting him a pet fountain. This should prevent your dog from feeling like he needs to dig at his bowl to get things moving.

dogs might dig in their water bowl to get it moving
Many dogs prefer to drink moving water.

He’s fascinated with the reflection

Has your dog ever looked in a mirror? Has he seemed confused? Maybe he’s tried barking at or pawing at his reflection because he thinks it’s another dog.

Your dog might be looking at his own reflection in his water bowl, or the reflection of something else. That reflection could be a little confusing to him.

He might start pawing at his water bowl to try and figure out who that other dog is!

My dog is digging the water compulsively

Some dogs struggle with canine obsessive compulsive disorder. If your dog has canine OCD, one of his symptoms could be digging at the water bowl.

Compulsive behaviors like this can be difficult to manage. If you suspect that your dog has OCD, you should take him to the vet to get a proper diagnosis.

Your vet may recommend medication to help your dog manage his symptoms. They might also suggest you see a behavioralist for further help.

How can I stop my dog from digging in the water bowl?

There are several reasons why your dog might be digging in his water bowl. Understanding them can help you figure out what next steps you should be taking.

If you’re ready to find ways to get your dog to stop digging at his water bowl, here is some helpful advice.

Ignore attention-seeking dog behavior

When you are looking to stop a particular behavior in your dog, using positive reinforcement dog training is the best way to do that.

That means rewarding behavior that you want to encourage. It also means ignoring any behavior you want to stop.

If your dog is kicking at his bowl for attention, don’t give it to him. Instead, only give him attention when he is being well-behaved. This will teach him that he has to be good to get the attention he wants.

Related topic: For dog training in general I highly recommend you get a program that walks you through step by step, such as Braintrainingfordogs. Certified dog trainer Adrienne Farricelli teaches you to train your dog to be the best dog he can by be using mental stimulation! Check out Dogpackr’s review to see if this is a fit for you!

Field Dogs 300 x 600

Get a kiddie pool for your dog to cool down

Remember, you need to make sure that your dog stays at a comfortable temperature. This is especially true during summer months when your dog is more likely to overheat.

This is super important: Heat stroke can be fatal if it’s not treated quickly and properly. The best way to deal with heat stroke in dogs is to prevent it from happening in the first place.

One of the ways you can do this is giving your dog somewhere cool to go when he’s outside. Consider purchasing a kiddie pool that he can spend time in on hot days.

Give your dog other things to play with

If your dog is digging in his water bowl because he likes playing with water, then you need to give him different things to play with.

There are lots of great ways you can keep your dog entertained that will help him from digging at his water bowl. Buying him some new toys can help.

If you’re looking for some more ideas, these related articles are full of things you can try:

Let a pet fountain move the water for your dog

You may not be able to stop your dog’s instincts from working the way they do. But you can find helpful ways to work with his instincts.

If your dog’s natural instincts are causing this unwanted behavior, then a fountain might be the perfect solution.

Once he has his fountain set up, you should find that your dog has less of an urge to kick at his water bowl to get the water moving.

pet fountains can help dogs that like to dig in their water bowl
It’s already moving, no need to get it to.

Put only a little water in your dog’s water bowl

If your dog tends to get super fixated on the water in his bowl, whatever the reason, then you might want to think about filling it only a little at a time.

You’ll need to stay on top of making sure there’s water in there to keep him hydrated. But if there’s not enough liquid for them to kick around and play with, dogs won’t dig in their water bowl.

Take the water bowl away briefly

Does your dog seem unable to keep himself from digging at the bowl? You might need to take it away from him to prevent this behavior.

If you need to take away your dog’s water bowl, make sure you’re not taking it away for very long. Your dog needs to stay hydrated to be healthy.

As soon as dogs start to dig in their water bowl, take it away for a few minutes and then put it back down.

Try a non-reflective dog water bowl

Metal water bowls are often reflective, and your dog’s reflection could be why he’s trying to dig at the water.

The simplest solution to this is simply to purchase another dog bowl. Get one that is non-reflective so that your dog can’t be distracted by his own reflection.

Get a splash proof dog water bowl

Another thing you can try for your dog is getting him a splash proof bowl.

This is a common enough problem that there are dog product companies that make splash proof bowls. These are designed specifically for dogs who like to dig in their water bowl.

Your dog won’t be able to kick and splash his water around. This means that there will be much less of a mess for you to clean up when your dog is drinking!

heavy dog water bowl.
Splash-proof water bowls are often heavy and narrow towards the top.

FAQs around dogs pawing their water bowl

We’ve gone over all the basics of why dogs might want to dig in their water bowl, but you might still have questions.

Here are a few answers that might help you.

Why is my dog pawing at his food bowl?

Is your dog more prone to pawing his food bowl rather than his water bowl?

He might be doing this because he’s trying to tell you he’s hungry. You can try splitting his food into smaller meals and feeding him two or three times a day instead of just once.

He might also be doing this for attention. In this case, make sure to ignore this bad behavior.

How do I stop my dog from knocking over his water bowl?

If your dog is constantly tipping over his water bowl, this can be especially frustrating. It means you’re constantly cleaning up a mess and continuously refilling his water bowl!

You can use all the same techniques you would use to stop a dog from digging in his water bowl, since these two issues are very similar.

Remember to stay patients and try new things to find what works for you and your dog.

Why are some dogs messy drinkers?

Does your dog seem to make much more of a mess than other dogs when drinking?

Dogs in general don’t care much about table manners. But you might be the lucky owner of a particularly messy dog!

If you want your dog to be more tidy when drinking water, there are a few things you can try. For one thing, you can purchase a bowl designed for messy drinkers.

You can also put a mat down under your dog’s bowl to make cleaning up after him easier.

drooling dog with water bowl
Some dogs just don’t care if they get water everywhere.

Should a dog’s water bowl be elevated?

Not every dog needs an elevated bowl, but it can certainly be helpful for many dogs.

This is especially true for large dogs who have to bend further down to reach bowls on the floor. This could put a strain on your dog’s esophagus and make drinking more difficult.

You can purchase stands for your dog’s bowls, or even simply put them on a bench.

Why do dogs dig in the kiddie pool?

Do you have a kiddie pool for your dog? If he keeps digging at it, it’s most likely because water is really fun to play in!

It could also be because it’s hot and your dog is getting ready to cool off in the kiddie pool.

Why do dogs put things in their water bowl?

Does your dog like to put things in his water bowl? This can be pretty confusing.

This could be your dog’s way of playing with water. He could also be doing it for attention if he doesn’t think you’re paying him enough of it.

Putting your dog’s bowl in a place separate from things like his toys can help with this problem.


Keeping your dog hydrated is important. But it’s annoying to have to clean up a big mess every time your dog drinks water.

If this is a problem you and your dog have, identifying why it’s happening is the first step. Once you’ve done that, you can help your dog learn to stop.

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