Why is my dog scared of water? (and how to solve it)

Dog swimming

The fear of water is usually related to cats. The most common belief is that dogs love water, while cats hate it and are afraid of it. The truth is that the phobia of water is not only something that is typical of cats. Many dogs are also scared of water. But, at the same time, there are a lot of water-loving canines.

Whether your dog adores spending time in the water or is afraid of it will depend on many different factors, such as the genetics, the dog breed, the size of your dog, and its overall personality. In this regard, the reasons why your dog can be scared of water are also diverse. Do you want to know all about the explanations behind the curious phobia of water that some dogs experience? Read along to find out more about this interesting phenomenon!


Main reasons that explain this dog fear

As we mentioned above, there are many different reasons that can explain why your furry buddy is afraid of water. Depending on your dog’s breed, size, age and personality, you may find that one explanation is more aligned to its particular case than others.

Thus, when considering the explanations behind this curious dog phobia, one of the most common things that can be happening is that your dog is simply not used to being around water. Therefore, when it encounters a watery area, they will be experiencing something new, and the water will be feeling different on their fur or under their paws. Another reason that can lie behind the fear of water may be related to your dog’s past.

In this sense, it is possible that your pet has suffered a traumatic water experience in the past, or that it was compelled to get wet before it was ready. An example of this can be if its first times taking a bath were violent and abrupt experiences, in which the dog was forced to take the bath.


Is there anything that can be done about it?

Fortunately, there are different solutions and ways in which you can prevent or address your furry friend’s fear of water. With patience, love and care, you can be sure to prevent your best buddy from experiencing a frightening situation when it comes close to the water.

Furthermore, the fear of water can be quite complicated, especially when your dog is afraid of taking baths. With more or less frequency, taking baths is essential for every dog’s wellbeing. Therefore, your canine friend will have to face the bath experience whether it likes it or not. Thus, it is very important to be aware of the different methods that you can put into practice to address your dog’s fear of water. Next, we will share with you some tips and ideas to take care of this.

Dog running in stream

Do a slow introduction to water

Start with very soft and small exposures if your dog suffers from a severe phobia of the water. What you can do is wait until your dog is quiet and at ease during the day. Then, simply set a clean basin with fresh water next to your furry buddy. Be sure to give your dog a treat or a reward if it remains quiet, as a way to reinforce this behavior.

Once you’ve done that, let your dog sniff your hand after dipping your fingers into the water. Give your dog more treats and rewards if they are still quiet and at ease. Next, softly stroke your pet’s fur with your wet hand. If your dog accepts this gently and with no issues, you can give him some more treats or rewards.

If at any point you notice that your dog starts to panic, it is essential that you stop the procedure and pet your buddy or try to bring it back to a quiet mood. Then, you can start again, always doing it smoothly and with patience. Remember that rewarding a desired behavior is a must in all this process.


Show your dog that you are chill and relaxed when you are around water

As you may know, dogs tend to reflect on their human’s behaviors and feelings. They are highly sensitive creatures, and will easily perceive and notice if you are unhappy, uncomfortable or afraid. Thus, it is very useful to show your dog that you are perfectly fine with having water around you. For this, you can wet your hair or your hands with your dog around, to show to him that everything is alright when being around water. This is a great way to foster your dog’s trust and confidence when being around this element.


Try shallow waters

If your dog is not severely afraid of water and can handle being close to it, but still shows some signs of being afraid when exposed to a lot of water for long periods, a good solution that may help is to try shallow waters. For this, what you can do is fill a small tub or children’s pool with an inch or two of water.

Be sure that the temperature is at a comfortable level, that is, not too hot and not too cold. Put together your furry friend’s favorite toys and also have at hand some treats. Slowly aim to get your dog inside the tub or pool. Give your dog rewards, treats and congratulations if they remain calm and get into the water. Always do the whole process slowly and with patience.