You place a water bowl right in front of your dog, and he hesitantly makes his move to take a slip and run away.
This makes you wonder why he is acting in this way?
Why is he so reluctant and afraid to drink water from the bowl?
What is the reason behind this behavior?
Your dog is scared of his water bowl because he sees a reflection of himself in the bowl, or he feels threatened when approaching the bowl. He had an unpleasant experience (getting choked when drinking from the bowl, being punished for making a mess, water getting into his nose) that made him fearful.
Stunned By The Reflection of Himself In The Bowl
You know that it’s normal to see your reflection from a metal bowl when the light hits it, but that could be a shocking experience for your dog.
He sees another dog in the water bowl maintaining direct eye contact with him and acting to be dominant.
This makes him feel uncomfortable, and he tries to look away by fleeing away from the bowl.
What you can do to help him overcome this fear is to get him a ceramic dog bowl which will prevent any reflection from appearing in the bowl.
Of course, you will have to gradually build up his confidence to make him feel that it is “safe” to drink the water from the new ceramic bowl.
The way to do it would be to place the ceramic bowl on the floor some distance away from him.
Put a small treat right beside the bowl just to “lure” him to go over.
If he does go over to eat the treat and drink the water from the bowl, praise him and reward him with another treat.
Keep repeating this process until you are sure that he is now comfortable with his new water bowl.
This shouldn’t take too long since there will not be any more illusion appearing in the bowl to scare him.
Sense of Threat Where The Water Bowl Is Placed
This is likely to be the case when you have another more dominant dog at home and your dog feels a sense of threat when he is trespassing the dominance dog’s “territory” to access his water bowl.
If this is the case, you will have to work on correcting the dominance dog behavior and to place the water bowl in a place where your dog will feel safe and secure to drink without any fear.
The most ideal spot would be to place the water bowl in his crate.
This is on the assumption that you have crate trained your dog, and he feels comfortable being in his crate.
Your dog will see the crate as his den once he is used to being crated.
He will feel more confident and content to be in his crate and will be more willing to drink water from the bowl without any fear.
He Is Being Punished For Making A Mess When Drinking Water
Your dog has gotten scolded or yelled at by someone in your family for making a mess on the floor when he is drinking from his water bowl.
The fear of being punished again will make him reluctant to go near the bowl.
To correct this behavior, you will need to make him feel that a GOOD thing will happen when he starts drinking from the water bowl.
This can be achieved by praising him and giving him a treat for drinking from the bowl.
The rewarding experience of going near the bowl and drinking from it will then help him associate the bowl with good things.
You can also use a clicker to reinforce the association.
His Nose Gets Into The Water Bowl
It could be a challenge for your dog to see the surface of the water from the bowl (as it is transparent) and he could push his nose too far into the water when he is trying to drink it.
This causes the water to get into his nose and terrifies him.
He will then try to avoid going near the bowl as much as possible.
Just like if you had drowned in a swim before, would you still be keen to go near the swimming pool? No way, right!
What you can do is to change the white stainless bowl to a colored bowl to make it more visible for your dog to see the surface of the water.
This will prevent him from dipping his nose right into the water again.
Phobia Of Water Choking
Your dog had an unpleasant experience of getting choked as the result of drinking water too fast.
This causes him to develop a fear of water and dislike drinking it.
He will try to stay away from the water bowl as it reminds him of the choking experience.
To address this behavior issue, you would have to train your dog to overcome his fear of water and be willing to start drinking it.
You see, it is important for your dog to drink sufficient water daily to prevent dehydration.
As a guideline, a dog will typically need to drink about an ounce of water for every pound of his body weight.
So, while you work on helping your dog to overcome his water phobia, you can look into using food to make up for the water intake that he needs daily.
Make his meal more soggy by adding more water or stock to it so that he will have the needed fluid to quest his thirst and stay hydrated.
You can also make use of a syringe to gently feed him with a small amount of water till he drinks the recommended daily amount.
Intimidated By Depth Of The Water Bowl
It is possible that your dog feels intimidated by the depth of the water bowl when he has cataracts or impaired vision.
This makes him get fearful whenever he goes near the bowl and looks into it.
You will need help from the vet to perform a check on his eye and to do the necessary treatment or surgery.
Water Bowl Smells Different (Make Him Wary)
Did you switch to a different washing solution to clean up your dog’s water bowl lately?
It could have left a scent on the bowl that your dog hates!
This explains why he shy away from it.
You may not be able to smell the scent that is left on the bowl after washing, but your dog can certainly do so.
It has been proven that dogs are capable of smelling 10,000 to 100,000 times better than humans.
So, if you want your dog to drink from the bowl again, make sure you change back to the old washing solution.
Metallic Sound From The Bowl Make Him Feels Unease
If your dog is wearing a metal tag, and you are using a metal water bowl, that will create an annoying grating, metallic sound when he places his head near the bowl to lick the water.
The sound is caused by the metal-on-metal contact between his tag and the bowl.
Of course, your dog will not be able to know this “theory” and will get nervous and fearful as the sounds seem so near to him, but he is not able to see his “target”.
This will stir his fear of going near the water bowl.
To resolve this problem, you can either remove his tag or use a plastic water bowl instead. This will make the sound of the metal on metal contact go away.
Unpleasant Water Taste From His Bowl
Your dog finds the water from his bowl has a foul taste, and he will keep himself away from it.
This foul-tasting could be caused by a dirty bowl or the water is not being treated properly (contaminated).
To address this issue, you can clean his water bowl using a scrubbing sponge with a bit of mild detergent such as Persil Washing Up liquid.
After washing, place the bowl in the sink and pour boiling water over it to further sterilize it.
The water bowl will then be ready for your dog.
As for the water contamination issue, you can have the water boiled before giving it to your dog or make use of a water filter to purify the water from the tap.
He Feels Pain Bending Down To Reach The Bowl
Your dog could be in pain when he bends his head to reach the water bowl placed on the floor.
That is making him stay away from it.
He could have injured himself during a play, or it could be due to arthritis discomfort as he ages.
Regardless of whatever health issue, you ought to take him to see a vet for a thorough checkup.
In the meantime, you can put his water bowl on a higher or elevated surface, such as a raised dog bowl stand where you can conveniently adjust the height to avoid your dog having to bend down to drink the water.
Make sure that his head can easily touch the rim of the bowl to drink the water.
Bowl Is Too Small – “Hits” His Head
This is likely to be the case when you have a small bowl with a deep base and your dog has a “hard” time licking the water from the bowl.
His head keeps hitting the bowl as he tries to stick his head properly into the bowl to lick the water.
This causes him pain, and he will avoid “touching” the bowl.
What you should do is to get him a bigger bowl so that he can comfortably “place” his head to get his water.
You can also try to elevate the bowl to make it much easier for your dog to reach the water.