Why Does My Dog Dig in His Water Bowl? (7 Common Reasons)

Categorized as Why Does My Dog
dog drinking from elevated water bowl

Most dog owners have experienced the frustration of coming home to a favorite plant dug up and overturned, or finding a hole gnawed in their favorite pair of shoes.

But what about when your dog starts digging in his own water bowl? While it may not be as destructive as some other forms of canine mischief, it can still be confusing and frustrating for owners.

There are a few possible reasons why your dog might be digging in his water bowl, and understanding the cause can help you decide how to best address the behavior.

Here’re seven common reasons why your dog might be digging in his water bowl:

1. Cooling Off

Some dogs just can’t help but make a mess, and that includes their water bowl. For these pups, the act of digging in their water bowl is simply a way to cool off.

When it’s hot outside and they’re feeling thirsty, they’ll stick their paws in the water and splash around until they’re nice and refreshed.

In the dog days of summer, it’s important to remember that our furry friends can get just as hot as we do. In fact, dogs are susceptible to a number of heat-related health problems, from heat exhaustion to heatstroke.

That’s why it’s important to take steps to keep your dog cool in hot weather.

My favorite way to keep my dog cool is to make him some frozen treats. Simply mix together some of his favorite ingredients-dog food, peanut butter, and a little water and pour them into an ice cube tray. Then pop them in the freezer and let them harden.

Once they’re frozen solid, give your pup one or two as a refreshing snack. He’ll love the taste, and the ice will help to cool him down on even the hottest days.

Another easy way to do this is to provide plenty of water and shade. If your dog is going to be outside for an extended period of time, consider investing in a doghouse with good ventilation.

And on particularly hot days, it’s best to keep your dog indoors where it’s cooler. By taking some simple precautions, you can help your dog stay safe and comfortable all summer long.

2. Boredom

Even our furry best friends can get bored from time to time. When boredom strikes, dogs will often do all sorts of things to pass the time, including digging in their water bowl, chewing on toys, or chasing their tails.

Some might even try to escape by digging under fences or jumping over walls. While most of these activities are harmless, they can sometimes lead to trouble.

That’s why it’s important to make sure our furry friends have plenty of opportunities to stay active and engaged. Otherwise, they might just find themselves in a bit of a rut.

Here’re a few things you can do to keep your dog from getting bored:

Playing fetch

Playing fetch is a great way to bond with your dog while also providing him with some much-needed exercise. If you don’t have a lot of space, you can even play indoors.

Just make sure you use a soft toy or ball so you don’t accidentally break any of your belongings.

Going for walks

Walks are a great way for dogs to explore the world and get some exercise. If your dog is particularly high-energy, consider going for a run or hike instead.

Just be sure to start off slowly and gradually increase the intensity to avoid overworking your dog.

Enrolling in dog sports

There are all sorts of dog sports available, from agility to flyball. These activities are a great way for dogs to stay active and burn off some extra energy.

Plus, they’re a lot of fun for both dogs and their owners. If you’re not sure what sport is right for your dog, consider enrolling him in a beginner’s obedience class.

Doing some training

Training is a great way to keep your dog’s mind active and engaged. And it’s a great bonding opportunity for the two of you.

There are all sorts of things you can train your dog to do, from simple commands like sit and stay to more complex tricks like playing dead or rolling over.

The options are endless. So, if you’re looking for a way to keep your dog from getting bored, consider doing some training.

Visiting a dog park

Dog parks provide a great opportunity for dogs to socialize and play. If you don’t have a dog park in your area, consider asking a friend or family member if you can bring your dog over to their house to play.

Dogs need social interaction just like we do, so it’s important to make sure they have opportunities to interact with other dogs.

Playing with interactive toys

Interactive toys are a great way to keep your dog’s mind active and engaged. These toys are designed to challenge your dog and help him learn new things.

Some popular interactive toys include Kongs, puzzle toys, and treat-dispensing toys.

By providing your dog with an interactive toy, you can help him stay entertained and out of trouble.

3. Reacting to Reflection

If your dog is a puppy, he may be more likely to start digging in his water bowl because he’s still trying to figure out the world around him.

Puppies are very curious and they often want to explore everything they see. So, when they see their reflection in a body of water, they may be tempted to try and reach it.

However, because they can’t actually reach the reflection, they may start digging in their water bowl in an attempt to get to it.

If your puppy is constantly digging in his water bowl, one possible solution is to make sure that the bowl is made of non-reflective material. This will help to prevent your pup from seeing his reflection and becoming agitated.

Second, make sure that the bowl is heavy enough that he can’t easily tip it over.

And finally, consider placing the bowl on an elevated stand. This will make it more difficult for your pup’s paw to reach the water and will help to discourage him from trying to dig.

4. Your Dog is a Puppy

It’s no secret that puppies love to explore the world around them. From the moment they open their eyes, they’re eager to investigate everything they see and smell.

This curiosity can sometimes lead to trouble, like when they dig in their water bowls.

But what is it about water bowls that puppies find so intriguing?

It could be the way the water moves when they poke their noses in or the fact that it’s always there when they’re thirsty.

Whatever the reason, one thing is for sure: puppies will continue to be fascinated by water bowls for months to come. So if your pup is guilty of making a splash, just remember that it’s all part of their natural curiosity.

5. Looking for Attention

Dogs are highly intelligent creatures, and they quickly learn that certain behaviors will result in the attention they crave.

For example, many dogs will start to bark or whine when they want to be let outside. Others will beg for food at the dinner table. And still, others will dig in their water bowls.

In most cases, attention-seeking behavior is harmless. But if it’s something that you’re not comfortable with, there are a few things you can do to stop it.

First, try to ignore the behavior. This may seem counterintuitive, but if you react to your dog’s digging, he’ll learn that it gets him the reaction he wants and he’ll be more likely to do it again.

Instead, wait for him to stop digging and then give him the attention he wants. This will help him to understand that he won’t get your attention unless he stops the behavior.

Second, provide your dog with alternative ways to get your attention. For example, you can teach him to sit or lie down before you pet him or give him a treat.

By giving your dog other ways to get your attention, you can help to reduce his motivation for digging in his water bowl.

6. Compulsive Behavior

In some cases, a dog may start to dig in his water bowl because of compulsive behavior.

Compulsive behaviors are repetitive actions that your dog feels the need to do even though there is no obvious reason for doing them.

These behaviors can be caused by stress, anxiety, or boredom. And they can often be frustrating for pet owners because they can be difficult to stop.

Here are a few things that you can do to help your dog if he’s displaying compulsive behavior:

1. Increase Exercise

If your dog is bored or anxious, one of the best things you can do is to increase his exercise.

A tired dog is a happy dog, and by giving your dog more opportunities to run and play, you can help to reduce his stress and anxiety levels.

2. Reduce Stress

There are a number of things that can cause stress in dogs, including changes in the home, loud noises, and even other animals.

If you think your dog’s digging behavior is due to stress, there are a few things you can do to help him feel more relaxed.

First, try to create a quiet, safe space for your dog where he can go to relax. This could be a crate or a small room where he can’t see or hear anything that’s going on around him.

Second, provide your dog with plenty of toys and chewies to keep him occupied. This will help to reduce anxiety and give him something to do with his time.

Third, consider using a calming supplement such as CBD oil to help reduce your dog’s stress levels. There are a number of these products on the market, and they can be very effective in helping dogs to calm down.

3. Reward Good Behavior

One of the best ways to stop any behavior is to reward the opposite behavior.

So, if your dog is digging in his water bowl, try to reward him when he doesn’t do it.

This could be with a treat, a toy, or even just some extra attention.

By rewarding your dog when he’s not digging, you can help to teach him that this is the behavior you want to see.

4. Explore Behavior Modification Drugs

When all else fails, behavior modification drugs may be recommended by your veterinarian. These drugs can help to reduce anxiety and stress, which can in turn help to reduce compulsive behaviors.

7. Preferring Moving Water

While most dogs seem content to lap up water from a bowl, some prefer moving water as if they are drinking from a stream. To get the still water to move, they will put their paws in the bowl and paddle away.

I can only imagine that this is more enjoyable for them, and it certainly does make for an entertaining show. I have no idea what drives this behavior, but it is one of the many things that makes dogs so special.


If your dog is anything like mine, then you’re probably used to finding a mess of dirt and mud around his water bowl.

And while it may be annoying to have to clean up after him, there’s actually a perfectly good explanation for his behavior. Digging is instinctual for dogs, so in most cases, there’s no need to worry.

However, if your dog’s digging is excessive or seems to be caused by stress or anxiety, then it could be a sign of a more serious health problem. If you’re concerned about your dog’s digging behavior, it’s always best to consult with your veterinarian.

By Andrew Garf

Andrew Garf has loved dogs, especially German Shepherds, since he was 10 years old. Though he also loves burgers, training dogs is his real passion. That's why he created the website TrainYourGSD.com - to help dog owners learn how to properly train, care for, and bond with their German Shepherd dogs.