Is your puppy trying to swim in the water bowl all the time or tipping it over the second you fill it up for the hundredth time that day? Don't worry — you can take steps to train your puppy to stop this behavior and redirect that young dog energy into more productive endeavors.
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The reasons dogs like playing or digging in their water dish vary. Some puppies simply love water and will find any opportunity to get their paws wet. Others just like trouble and have fun making a mess whenever they can. While many dogs will outgrow their love for the water bowl, others might need some help.
Make the water dish tip-proof
Buy a metal water dish that comes with a rubber ring around it. These bowls are often designated as nonskid or nonslip bowls, but they have an added benefit in that they're almost impossible to tip over. Of course, that won't stop your puppy from putting his toes inside and playing splish-splash with the water, but if he realizes he can't spill the water anymore, he'll slowly lose interest.
You can also buy a raised food bowl set. These bowls come with a metal frame and are usually designed for large breeds who have difficulty reaching the ground to eat or drink. Using it for your puppy might solve the play problem, though, because it's impossible to comfortably put paws inside when the bowl is not on the floor. Just make sure you get something with an adjustable stand because you don't want your puppy to try to get on his tiptoes to reach for the bowl and send the whole structure down.
Set up a puppy pool
Lots of dog breeds love water, like the Portuguese water dog and the Labrador retriever, so indulge your growing pup's natural instincts with an appropriate outlet. Give your pooch a bigger water bowl, dog pool, or small children's pool to play in depending on her size. Let it become the "puppy pool" for swimming, splashing, and fun in the sun outdoors.
Keep your dog's water dish where it has always been so she can drink from there. Next time she tries to play with the small drinking bowl, say "no" and take her outside to play with the big tub. She'll soon understand one bowl is not a toy, and the other one is nonstop fun.
Give your puppy a fountain
Some puppies may try to tip over their dishes because they like running water or because the water is dirty. To solve this problem, set up a pet drinking fountain for your puppy to automatically filter the water. As an added bonus, most large-capacity drinking fountains are heavy and sturdy enough that your puppy won't be able to tip them over.
When your puppy drinks properly from the fountain, reward him with lots of praise and even a treat or toy. This will positively reinforce that you don't want the pup playing in the water but rather just drinking from the fountain.
Ignore puppy water bowl play
After ensuring that your puppy can't knock over her bowl and cause a mess, if she starts splashing around in the bowl, don't react. By running over to her or scolding her, you may negatively reinforce the unwanted behavior. This teaches your dog that attention can be had from you by playing in the water.
Instead, do nothing or say "no" when your puppy starts playing in the water bowl. Then, put the puppy on a time-out in her crate for a few minutes until she calms down. This will teach the puppy that playing in the water stops all the fun.
Keep your puppy active
Puppies may exhibit destructive behaviors like playing in the water bowl because they're simply bored, and a bored puppy will make his own fun, usually in unwanted ways. Avoid these behaviors by regularly walking your puppy and playing with your puppy throughout the day. You'll also want to provide him with lots of toys to play with, especially things like puzzle toys that engage his attention for hours.
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