How to Stop Your Dog From Turning Over Its Water Bowl

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It's not uncommon for dogs to turn over their water bowls, even if they're thirsty and want the water. The reasons can range from mischievous behaviors to more serious problems. If your dog does this more than once or twice, you'll need to try to identify the problem, then solve it based on why your pet is acting this way. In many situations, you can solve the problem yourself. In others, you might need to get a trainer involved or call your vet.

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Dogs may be being mischievous.
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Try to identify the problem

Try to figure out why your dog is turning over her water bowl. Look for patterns. Is she doing it at the same time of day? Is she doing it right before or after being fed? Is another pet using the bowl? If you can figure out the problem, it will be a much easier fix.

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Some reasons why dogs turn over their water bowls include:

  • Water is old or has something in it (dust)
  • Bowl is dirty
  • Bowl was moved from its normal location
  • Dog sees a threat or other problem
  • She's bored and wants attention

If you don't change your water once or twice daily, it can get debris in it, especially if you have a dusty house. If the water is near a vent, it can attract even more dust — a heating vent or sunny window can raise the water temperature.

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Dogs like routine and don't like their bed, toys, or bowls to be moved. If you've recently added a water filter to your faucet or occasionally empty the last of your bottled water into the bowl, these new sources of water might be the problem.

Don’t use negative reinforcement

Telling a dog, “No!” or, “Bad dog!” is not an effective means of animal training.
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Telling a dog, "No!" or, "Bad dog!" is not an effective means of animal training. Never swat or fake a spank, which can stress out the dog or cause him to bare his fangs and become aggressive and possibly dangerous. Use positive reinforcement training to condition good behavior.

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This can include, "Good dog!" or rubs, treats, or hugs. Any time you see that your dog has drunk from the water bowl without flipping it over, reinforce this behavior with a positive response. You can try adding fresh water to the bowl, standing and watching him drink, then giving him a rub or praise if he drinks without tipping the bowl.

Untippable dog water bowl

To help speed up the process of getting your dog to stop this particular behavior, consider using water bowls and accessories that discourage spilling. For example, you might use a weighted, untippable dog water bowl or a splash-proof dog water bowl. You can also try putting a non-skid piece of material on the bottom of the bowl. This will prevent it from sliding and make it more difficult to tip over.

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You can use a rack that contains the dog's water and food bowls next to each other. The bowls are placed in indentations in the material, or sandwiched between two pieces of material, making it more difficult to flip the bowl.

When to contact help

If your dog is tipping the water over daily, call in a behaviorist.
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If your dog is tipping the water bowl daily, to the point that you think she might be getting dehydrated, call your vet or a pet behaviorist. Do the same if your dog keeps spilling water, trying to flip a weighted bowl, or fussing with one in a bowl rack. You might need a behaviorist or trainer to visit your house and spend time with your dog to determine the problem. Take a couple of pictures of the area where you are keeping the water bowl and send it to the vet or trainer — they might be able to spot the problem from what they see in the pictures.

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