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11 Reasons Why Dogs Are Afraid Of The Water Bowl + 7 Tips

Why Is My Dog Afraid Of The Water Bowl

Your dog looks left and right. Then slowly walks to their bowl.

They quickly took a lap of water. And then run from it as fast as they could.

Does their water bowl transform into a monster at night? 

Or does it grow a head when no one’s around?

You don’t think that’s likely to happen.

So why’s your pooch suddenly afraid of their water bowl?

Keep reading to find out: 

  • 11 reasons why your dog is afraid of the water bowl.
  • An ‘ice cold’ tip to make your dog drink water anywhere.
  • 7 tips on what you should do if your dog’s suddenly afraid of the water bowl.
  • And much much more…

Why is my dog afraid of the water bowl?

Your dog is afraid of the water bowl because of the sound of the bubbles, they’re in pain, an eyesight problem, it has a clunking sound, it’s near a threat, a new location, it smells different, they’re scared of a reflection, water phobia, they’re fearful, or have had a recent bad experience.

11 reasons why your dog is afraid of the water bowl (all of a sudden)

#1: They’re scared of the sound it makes

The reason why your dog’s suddenly afraid of the water bowl is because of its gurgling sound. Such as the bubbles that are coming from the dispenser.

Here’s a scenario:

You just bought a new water dispenser or automatic water bowl for your pooch. And you’re looking forward to them trying it. 

Because of the reviews you’ve read online, you’re confident that it’ll be easy to use. It’s automatic, too. So there’s no need to refill their water as often as before. 

“Surprise!”, you happily said to your pooch. But as they drink from their new water source, they quickly back away when they hear something. 

Blob. Blob. 

It’s just the sound of the dispenser’s bubbles. So what’s so wrong with that?

Well, the problem is your dog doesn’t know where that gurgling sound from hell is coming from. And they don’t know what will happen after it. That’s why they’re scared of it. 

#2: Your dog has neck or back pain

Your dog might be scared of their water bowl all of a sudden because they’re in pain. If they cry when they drink, it might be because of a neck or back injury. 

The sore body part must be giving a short pang when they dip their head in the bowl. So they refrain from drinking water altogether. 

“But how can I tell if my dog’s feeling something or they’re just being scared?”

According to Dr. Kate Mueller, these are the other signs of a dog who’s in pain: 

#3: It’s an eyesight problem

Dog's Afraid Of The Water Bowl Due To Eyesight Problems

“It’s baffling how my senior dog’s suddenly afraid of the water bowl.”, you tell your partner.

Your dog might be starting to have eyesight problems. 

So they’re having trouble knowing what certain things are since they can’t see properly. Like their water and food bowls. 

Because of this, your pooch might’ve miscalculated its depth. 

They weren’t able to see clearly the water surface inside their bowl. So it’s possible that when they dipped their head into it, the water came inside their nose. Thus, frightening them.

According to PetMD, these are the common eye problems that affect a dog’s eyesight as they grow old.

  • Cataracts. 
  • Corneal wounds.
  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA).
  • Glaucoma (40% of dogs who have this become blind).

#4: Their water bowl is noisy

Another reason your dog is afraid of the water bowl is because of its clanking sound. More so if it’s made of stainless steel material. 

According to a study, humans can hear 20kHz, while dogs can hear up to 70-100 kHz. Because of this, dogs dislike noise and loud sounds. 

They hear it 4 times more than humans can! 

Aside from that, they can also hear the sound of the rumble under the ground. As well as the sound of sirens before you even hear it. 

Because of this, the clanking sound of their water bowl could be aggravating them. For instance, if you trip on it often or drop it while you’re holding it. 

Tink. Tink. 

What’s that? Oh, it’s your dog’s tag.

Your furbaby could also be scared with the sound their tags make as it clinks to their bowl. Since they’re only hearing it every time they go for a drink. 

#5: It’s near a threat

Your new dog is acting weird. They’re scared and they’re turning over their water bowls all the time. 

You might think that this happens because of their water bowl. But no. It just so happens that’s in the way of something more serious.

If your dog’s behaving like this, it’s because they’re scared of a threat. Such as another territorial dog or an aggressive cat in the house.


Observe your pooch. Are they showing signs of fear?

Do they tuck their tails in between their legs when they see the other dog? Or do they cower and sit behind you when the cat’s around? 

You might also notice that they look around their surroundings before taking a drink. And fights often occur when your other furbaby is around. 

“Why’s this happening?”

Your other dog must be resource guarding. 

Since they look at your new pooch as someone who might take away their source of food and water, they fight them off. 

But wait… what about the cat? 

Well, in this case, they just simply dislike your new dog. 

#6: You relocated their water bowl

“Mom/Dad, I don’t know where that sound is coming from.”

Did you relocate your dog’s water bowl to another place? If yes, then it’s a possible reason why they’re suddenly scared of the water bowl. 

You must’ve put it near the service area where there’s an appliance that makes a humming sound. Like the washing machine or the dryer. 

Or your dog could be frightened by the sudden loud noises your appliance makes. 

Such as the ringing sound of the telephone when someone calls. Or the microwaves beeping sound when your food’s ready. 

#7: It smells different

It may seem bizarre. But your dishwashing liquid or soap could be the reason why your dog’s scared of the water bowl. 

You see, your dog doesn’t like your fruit-scented soap as much as you do. 

For them, it’s nauseating. 

Because they very much prefer the smell of the water from the toilet. Or from the muddy puddle that’s been sitting outside your house for days. (Surprise!)

So if you’ve just washed their water bowl and you didn’t rinse it properly, there’d still be a residue of soap left in there. 

The smell of it, with its soapy taste mixed with their water, scares your pooch. Maybe as much as you get scared whenever they drink toilet water. 

#8: They get scared of their reflection

Dog's Scared Of Reflection

“𝅘𝅥𝅮 Who is this dog I see, staring straight back at me…𝅘𝅥𝅮

Woof. Omgosh, it’s talking back!”

Your dog’s suddenly afraid because they saw their reflection in their water bowl. 

They’re used to using a plastic one where light doesn’t bounce. And now they’re using stainless steel that’s reflecting everything. 

It’s not that they think they’re not a beautiful pooch. It’s just because they don’t understand how this thing works. 

Because in your dog’s eyes, the face they see in the water is from another pooch that’s looking back at them. 

And when they bark, the other dog’s also barking, minus the sound. 

(It’s the same reaction they have when they get scared of their reflection in the mirror.)

#9: Water phobia

If your pooch just had a water accident, they’d get scared of water in general. 

For instance, they were introduced to water in a scary way. For example, just dropped in a pool or a tub. 

Or when they were drinking one time, they choked because they gulped a mouthful of water.

Because of this, they may refrain from interacting with water and all its forms. They may even go on a bit of a strike by refusing to drink from the water bowl.

Until they get very thirsty that is. 

Warning: Take your dog to the nearest vet if they’re not drinking water. Dangers of this include dehydration or heatstroke. 

#10: You have a fearful dog

Your dog is afraid of the water bowl because they’re frightful of everything. 

This happens most often in puppies as they’re still unsure of their surroundings. As they grow up and they socialize, they build confidence. 

Despite this, it’s hard to understand dogs sometimes. One day, they get scared of riding in fast cars, the next they’re having the time of their lives. With their snouts out of the window.

Today, your dog’s scared of their water dispenser or bowl. But who knows? Tomorrow they might be playing with it. 


Reading tip: 7 Weird Reasons Why Your Dog Is Acting Scared + Tips

#11: They had a recent bad experience

It’s also possible that your pooch faced a recent negative situation while they’re drinking. And they’ve associated it with their water bowl. 

Here are different situations your pooch may have experienced. 

They’re peacefully drinking in their outdoor water bowl one day. Then out of nowhere, a bee flew by. 

Since your dog likes to eat bees (like some German Shepherds), they quickly chomp on the insect. And the bee stings their snout as its defense. 


Another possible event could be they’re drinking from their bowl and they’re spilling a lot of water. And because you slipped on it before, you shouted at your dog to stop making a big mess again. 

Your pooch understands your body language as being angry. 

But they don’t know the exact reason for it. 

They might’ve thought that you disliked what they’re doing at that time, which is drinking. So they try to avoid coming near their water bowl all of a sudden. 

What do you do when your dog is afraid of the water bowl? 7 tips

#1: Put ice cubes in their water

“My dog’s afraid of drinking from the water bowl. They even tip it over as a sign of protest.”

Here’s a cool tip I use on my dog Lissa whenever she refuses to drink: I put ice cubes in her water bowl. 

First, I make her sniff the ice cube and gently nudge it to her nose. (Just to let her know that it’s cold.) And then I put it in her bowl. 

As she tries to fish it out, she has no other choice but to drink the water, too.

You see, according to a survey, most dogs prefer drinking cold water with a temperature of  59°F (15 °C) over warm. 

So if you’re having trouble making them drink, you can try this trick as well. 

Not only will this prevent them from being dehydrated. Your pooch will also be less scared with their bowls because it contains the cold water that they like.

#2: Give them a less reflective bowl

If your dog’s afraid because of the reflections they see in their bowl, give them one that doesn’t reflect light. Like a bowl that’s made from ceramic. 

This way they won’t see their face as they drink.  

It’ll prevent the blinding light of the sun from hitting their eyes. (If their water bowl is placed outdoors.)

Now, if you want to take it to another level, you can give water fountains a try, too. 

This creates movements in their water. So your pooch will not have to deal with reflection problems anymore.

#3: Have them checked by a vet

Your dog could be scared of their water bowl because of an eye problem. Or it could also be because of neck and back pains related to an injury or age-related symptoms. 

In this case, you need to have them checked with your trusted veterinarian. 

#4: Get them used to their water dispenser slowly 

If your pooch is afraid of the water bowl because of its sounds, you need to reintroduce it again. But this time, do it more slowly. 

You can start by putting their old water bowl near their new dispenser. By doing this, they’ll be able to have an option on which one they’ll drink from. 

“Old and trusty bowl? 

Or this water that comes with bubbles? Hhhmmm…”

Don’t worry. Even if they choose to drink from the old one, they’ll still hear the bubbling sounds. So they’d get more used to it. 

Gradually put their old one near the dispenser. Until the two of them are touching. This way, your dog can now drink from either of them. 

Then take out the old bowl once your dog is drinking from the water dispenser. 

#5: Clean their bowls regularly 

You must always clean your dog’s food and water bowls regularly. This avoids any insects from coming near it due to food debris. 

“But what if my dog’s afraid of the smell of the soaps I’m using?”

Get your sponge, it’s time for some cleaning!

To clean their water bowl without leaving soap residue, use a mild liquid soap. But hold it. Don’t put it directly in the bowl. 

Dilute the liquid soap in a little water first, then use a sponge for cleaning. 

Rinse it thoroughly until the bowls aren’t slippery anymore. It must also give a little squeak when you touch it. 

Now, outdoor bowls are a bit trickier to clean. 

Especially those that are made from plastic. As they’re more prone to the green thingy known as sticky moss.

To clean this, use a metal scrub or brush. Removing the moss will prevent the soaps from sticking into it and leaving a soapy aftertaste.

#6: Make their water bowl ‘quiet’

If your dog’s afraid of the loud sound their water bowl makes, put a non-skid lining on its rim. 

This will prevent it from sliding and tipping over. 

It’ll also lessen the clanking noise it makes when it slides on the floor. Or if you drop it from your hand. 

#7: Help them enjoy water again

If your dog is afraid of the water bowl because of a water phobia or a negative experience, help them enjoy it again. 

You can give your dog treats when they’re near the water bowl or dispenser. Or you can pet them every time they try to drink from it. 

This way, you’ll reinforce that drinking from the water bowl is a good thing. And it’ll earn them wonderful things.

“Petya, I think my dog has a water phobia…”

Aside from being afraid of their water bowl, are they avoiding taking a bath, too?

Here’s what you can do.

To make your pooch less scared of water, do fun activities with them. 

Take them on walks near open waters like rivers, beaches, or lakes. You can also visit local pools for dogs. Seeing other pooches enjoy water might encourage them to like water again.

Watch the video below of how this courageous Great Dane faced their fear. 

3 scenarios of dogs being afraid of the water bowl

#1: My rescue dog is afraid of the water bowl

Rescued dogs may get scared more often than others. Because they’re still trying to fit and adjust to their new environment. 

Before they were rescued, they could be drinking from puddles of rainwater in the streets. 

Or from open waters like canals, rivers, or streams. 

Because of this, your stray rescue may be scared to drink from their water dispenser. This is because they’re not used to drinking from these kinds of sources yet.

That’s not all.

Fighting with other dogs for resources like food and water is common among strays. So if they avoid their water bowl, it could be because they’re wary of your other dogs.

For example, you’ve placed the bowls of the two pooches near each other. And since the fearful dog is avoiding fights with the other, they don’t dare to drink. 

So to resolve this, here are the things you can do.

To make your rescue pooch get acclimated better, give them their own water bowl first. 

You can provide them a slightly wider bowl and place it outside. This gives the impression that they’re drinking from open sources like puddles.

Place a water bowl for them both indoors and outdoors. So that they can drink wherever and whenever they want to. 

Keep notes on which bowl locations they like drinking water from. It’s important that you always refill these spots. So that they don’t run out and get dehydrated. 

Note: You can ask for a dog trainer or behaviorist’s help to stop your dogs from fighting.

#2: My dog is afraid of the (new) water dispenser/automatic water bowl

If your dog’s used to drinking in normal water bowls, they may get scared if you suddenly change it to an automatic one. 

And this is because of the weird gurgling and humming sounds it makes. 

To get your dog drinking with their new one, you need to use positive reinforcement. 

Encourage your dog to drink in their new water dispenser by giving them treats when they drink from it. 

Praise them by saying, “Good boy/girl!” with a high-pitched tone of voice. 

And if you want to spoil them a little bit, give them belly rubs. It’s a win-win situation for both of you. 🙂

#3: My dog is scared of water bowl bubbles

“Am thirsty but am scared. The water blows bubbles at me when I drink.”

Dogs don’t attend science classes. So they don’t know how water dispensers work.

When water comes out, air comes inside the container. Thus producing bubbles.

In your dog’s eyes, these bubble blobs come from monsters that are out to take them whenever they drink. Or something like that.

So how can you resolve this? Surely, you can’t explain to your dog how hydraulics work.

What you can do instead is to give them the old water bowl they used to drink before. Then place it near the dispenser. 

This way, they get to drink from both sources. 

(Meanwhile, they’re also learning that the gurgling sounds are pretty much harmless.)

Once they get used to the bubbles or they take a drink from the dispenser, remove their old bowl. 

Why does my dog bark at his water bowl?

Your dog barks at his water bowl because he could be seeing a reflection of him on the water surface. But since he doesn’t know how light and reflection work, he thinks that it’s another dog looking at him.

Try to imagine this from your dog’s perspective. 

You’re walking by a lake one night. And when you went to look at the water, you screamed. For there’s another face under the water that’s looking back at you. Heavens!

Sounds like a scene from a horror movie, right?

Another possible reason for this is there are floating insects or a swimming frog in your dog’s water bowl. (If it’s located outdoors.)

And he’s barking to scare them away.