Why Do Dogs Play with Their Water and How to Make Them Stop?

Like any living creature, your dog needs water to live, thrive and survive. As a dog owner, one of your most important responsibilities is to make sure that your furry friend always has plenty of water to drink at all times of the day and night (even if you worry they may pee in the house). With that in mind, you should have a dog bowl on the floor at all times that’s filled with water.

The problem with doing this, however, is that sometimes your dog will play with their water using their snout and paws. Not only is this frustrating because of the mess it makes but it also decreases the amount of water they have available to drink. If your precious pooch is playing with their water all the time and you don’t know what to do, this article will give you the answers you need to make them stop. It might also teach them some valuable lessons too, so read on!

The main reasons dogs might play with their water bowl is because they are either feeling hot or bored, playing with their reflection, seeking your attention, trying to cool their paws, trying to grab something that might be in the water, or they’re puppies just playing around.

While there’s no hard scientific evidence to say exactly why dogs play with their water (obviously they can’t tell us) there are a few possible explanations for this odd and silly behavior. Keep in mind that one, all or none of the reasons below might be the reason your dog is making a big, wet mess, and that it might take some time and patience to figure it out.

Their paws are hot

Like humans, your dog can overheat, especially if they’ve been playing outside on a hot day or you’ve just come back from a walk on the hot sidewalk. Since the average dog doesn’t own shoes, their paws are directly exposed to the hot surfaces they run and walk on outside which, as you might imagine, can give them a bit of a hotfoot. Putting their paws in their water bowl and splashing them around a bit, while it might seem like they’re playing or just being silly, is possibly due to the fact that their paws are too hot and they want to cool them off as quickly as possible.

They see something moving around in their bowl

Dogs are naturally curious and, if they see something floating, swimming or dancing the hula in their bowl, there’s a good chance that they’ll try to catch it and, of course, make a mess in the process. If you live in an area where bugs are plentiful the chance this will happen increases significantly.

They’re just being playful

Depending on the breed and your dog’s age they might play with their water just because playing with water is a lot of fun. If you’ve ever seen a little child playing in a puddle it’s pretty much the same thing, a fascination with water and how it moves, splashes and sounds.

They love water

Some dogs, especially breed like the Portuguese Water Dog, simply love water and relish any chance they get to play in it, with it or around it. Water Spaniels, Otter Hounds and other breeds who love the water will do this too and, if your dog loves water, you can bet that they’ll play with theirs any chance they get.

They prefer it when their water is moving

Depending on where you live and how much time your dog spends outside they might be used to drinking their water from a stream, a river or some other type of flowing water source. If that’s the case, moving the water around in their bowl might just be their way of getting that water to move also.

You’ve encouraged the behavior

Remember that first time your pup put their paws in their water bowl and you laughed at them and told them how crazy cute they were? Sure you do, we’ve all been there! The problem is if you do this all the time your dog might start tho think that you like the behavior and find it as amusing as they do, prompting them to do it every time they get near their water bowl.

It may be an obsession they have

As we’ve mentioned already, some dog breeds love playing in the water. If you don’t have one of these breeds but your dog is still incessantly playing with the water in their bowl it might be that they have some sort of obsession with water, including the sound and feel it makes. Putting their paws or snout into their water bowl might give them a sense of satisfaction that they start to want all the time, driving them to do it whenever they can.

Do All Dogs Play With their Water Bowls?

There’s no hard answer for this question either but it’s safe to say that, yes, the average dog will occasionally play with their water bowl and make a mess. Some dogs will do it every time they get the chance, some will do it only once in a while and other dogs might only play with their water occasionally. There are some breeds that don’t have a strong compulsion to play with their water bowl but, like human children, dogs like to play and if that play includes water then so be it.

Are Puppies or Adult Dogs More Likely To Play with their Water?

The answer to this question is the same as the answer to the question “are children or adults more likely to play with their water?” The answer is children, of course, and so yes, puppies are more likely to play, and make a mess, with their water bowl. The fact is, puppies are very much like human children, completely fascinated by water. They love to play with it, splash it around and listen to the sound it makes, and sometimes their curiosity gets the better of them.

As we mentioned earlier there are certain types of dog breeds that love water as adults too, like Boykin Spaniels, and so if you have one of these breeds they might play with their water well into adulthood. But, more often than not, puppies will play with the water in their bowl more often than more mature adult dogs. It’s a puppy thing, which is good, because it means that, at some point, they will grow out of the habit and stop making a mess every time they get near their water bowl.

Are Some Dog Breeds More Likely To Play With Their Water?

To this question, we can give a definitive yes. Some breeds have been trained to go into the water and retrieve their owner’s prey, like geese, ducks and other hunted animals. Some breeds simply love the water and will take any chance they can get to swim, frolic and get wet. If you have one of these breeds you can bet that, whenever they can, they’ll play in, with or around water, so you might just have to get used to this fact. Some of the dog breeds that like the water best include;

  • Labrador Retrievers
  • Chesapeake Bay Retrievers
  • Newfoundlands
  • Poodles
  • Portuguese Water Dogs
  • Lagotto Romagnolos
  • Irish Water Spaniels
  • Spanish Water Dogs
  • Flat-Coated Retrievers
  • Barbets
  • American Water Spaniels
  • Otterhounds
  • Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retrievers
  • Boykin Spaniels

Is There Training that Can Stop Your Dog from Playing With Its Water Bowl?

Yes, definitely, although it might take some time and, with some dog breeds, it might not always work as well as you wish.

  1. Buy a non-reflective bowl. If there’s nothing to see your dog may stop splashing in their bowl
  2. Make sure your dog gets enough physical activity. More play outside means less play in their water bowl
  3. Give your dog a kiddie pool. If they’re hot it’s the best place to cool off
  4. Keep the water in their bowl at a low level
  5. Purchase a water bowl that’s self-feeding
  6. Purchase a spill-proof water bowl
  7. Don’t encourage them. If they play with their water, scold them lightly and/or leave the room

Are there Products You Can Buy that will Stop Your Dog from playing in their Water Bowl?

Yes, definitely.

  1. Cotcool Spill Proof Dog Water Bowl
  2. Petmate Deluxe Fresh Flow
  3. Powergiant Pet Water Dispenser
  4. Reeple Dog Water Dispenser
  5. Old Tjikko Water Feder for Dogs
  6. Blessed Family Dog Water Fountain

These are only 6 of the many non-spill water bowls available on Amazon, but they are some of the best. Any of them would make a good solution to your pup playing with their water and, along with the training tips we’ve given (above) should make a great 1-2 combo to stop them from making a big, wet mess every time they drink.


Dogs need water to live a happy, healthy life, it’s true. They also like to play and frolic, hate being too hot and have a fascination with water just like humans. The tips and advice we’ve given will hopefully show you the way to reduce or eliminate the problem of them making a mess with their water bowl and reduce your frustration and clean-up time to a minimum.

We hope you enjoyed this article and that it answered all of your questions about why your dog plays with their water. If you have more questions or wish to leave a comment please do so in the space provided, and best of luck training your dog!

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