Helping Your Dog Cope with their Fear of Water

Source: PetWave, Updated on July 16, 2015
Fear of Water

Why Some Dogs Fear Water

Some dogs, and specific breeds of dogs, love to swim and frolic in the water. Yet other dogs are so terrified of water that any exposure to water causes extreme reactions. Why do dogs fear water? There are a number of different causes that can contribute to a fear of water, and a patient and understanding owner will be able to work with their dog to slowly overcome this fear.

Many dogs that have an overwhelming fear of water suffer from anxiety and extreme sensitivity. Dogs have a very complex psychological mind, and just like people they can suffer from unreasonable fears due to anxiety. This type of anxiety can be inherited from their parents, it can develop from abuse, or it can just occur as a result of extremely sensitive emotions.

Some dogs develop a fear of water due to a bad experience with water in the past. Perhaps as a puppy they almost drowned; maybe they had a previous owner who used to douse them in water as a punishment, or maybe they found themselves in a situation where they were unable to get out of water. At some point in their lives, these dogs experienced something which made them associate water with something bad; as a result they develop a terrifying fear of water.

Other dogs develop a fear of water because they have lost their trust in people. Perhaps they were abused in the past; even if this abuse did not include water, the abuse was severe enough to make them fear all people. Dogs that have been severely abused are often frightened of water, and they will need time to overcome this fear and learn to trust their owner.

You may never find out why your dog suffers from this fear, but through patience, plenty of praise and encouragement, and developing a strong bond of trust you will be able to help your dog overcome this fear.

Training Tips

The process of helping your dog overcome fear of water needs to be taken in baby steps. Begin by exposing your dog to very small amounts of water. Choose a time when your dog is relaxed and happy. Carry a small bowl of water over to your dog, sit next to your dog, and start rubbing your dog’s stomach and softly saying words of encouragement. Slowly dip one hand into the water, let the dog sniff that hand, and then start to slowly wet the dog with the water. Throughout this process continually dip your hand in the water, let the dog smell your hand, and then run your hand over your dog. Repeat this process once a day for a number of days in a row. When you are finished, give your dog a treat.

Once your dog is use to a small sponge bath, slowly start to drip the water on your dog. Increase the amount of water you put on your dog over time, begin to make splashing noises in the bowl, and keep up the encouragement, praise, and treat rewards.

During bath times try to keep the volume levels down, and make sure you have everything ready before you begin the bath. During your dog’s bath give your dog lots of encouragement, praise, and an occasional favorite treat. Try to turn bath times into a fun game and your dog will slowly begin to associate water with affection, fun, and rewards.

Fear of Water guide

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