There are hundreds of YouTube videos of dogs trying to bite water, whether in the pool, from the hose, or in their water bowls.
But why do they do this?
This article will discuss why your dog loves to play and bite water.
It will also help you discern any causes for concern that can arise from this and whether you should be worried or just let them enjoy it.
There are many theories surrounding this odd behavior but let’s get right down to the root of the cause of why dogs try to bite water.
Why Do Dogs Bite Water?
The primary reason dogs try to bite water is that they are playing.
This can vary from seeing their reflection in a puddle to catching water sprayed from a hose.
This behavior is normal for most breeds – it will vary between dogs depending on their personality.
Most vets and dog experts agree that the main reason they do this is for fun, either from seeing their reflection or trying to bite a moving flow of water, such as from a hose.
No particular breed is more likely to do this, so it typically boils down to personality, how much the dog wants to play and if it finds it enjoyable to play with water.
You can check out this fun video to see just how much some dogs love it!
Note – You may also find this post interesting. It answers the question, why do dogs bite your hands?
They See Their Reflection In The Water
Your dog may be biting a body of water (such as a puddle or water in a bowl) because they see their reflection.
Dogs are curious by their very nature, and biting the water is a way of trying to understand what they are seeing.
Dogs do not have self-recognition.
In other words, when they see their reflection in a puddle, bowl, or pool, they don’t identify the image as “me.”
Instead, all they see is something new they can potentially play with.
Why Do Dogs Bite Their Water Bowls?
Once again, a dog or puppy attempting to bite water in their bowl or the actual bowl itself is due to them wanting to play – primarily due to the reflection they see.
It can also be a learned behavior from puppyhood. Perhaps something your dog picked up during playtime with other dogs.
Should You Discourage Your Dog From Biting Water In The Bowl?
In some cases, biting the water or water bowls can indicate underlying problems.
For example, the water or their water bowl could trigger medical conditions that affect your dog or puppy.
For instance, a dog showing aggressive behavior towards their water bowl and flipping it over or barking at it could be due to a neck injury they are suffering from.
Many dogs react to pain with aggression.
Lowering their neck to drink water may cause them pain, and they essentially take it out on the water bowl.
Provide your dog with elevated bowls and see if this eliminates any aggressive behavior.
If your dog is suffering from neck pain, elevating their water bowl might not be enough to ease the pain, and medical treatment might be needed to alleviate their suffering, so you should consider a trip to the vet.
If you are in financial difficulty and are worried about vet bills, this site lists helpful resources for charities to help you pay your bills.
(If you don’t live in the US, you can use Google to find similar help in your country, there is a lot of support out there for dog owners who are in difficulty).
NOTE – You might also want to read this blog post asking the question: why do dogs like ice cubes?
Is Water-Biting Normal Behavior In Dogs?
If your dog is biting water, rest assured that it is not bad or considered abnormal.
However, please keep your dog away from pressurized water because it can induce aspiration pneumonia (which we discuss below).
Discourage any water-biting where sprinklers, hoses, and anything else that releases highly pressurized water are involved.
Dogs Don’t Realize When They’ve Played Enough
Dogs, as we know, love to play, but when it comes to water, this can sometimes be a bit risky because they don’t know when to stop playing, or rather, they don’t know when they have had enough.
Thus, they become tired.
Due to this, two problems can occur and can be life-threatening.
The first we already mention is aspiration pneumonia, and the other is water intoxication.
Dogs and Water Intoxication
Water intoxication occurs when your dog swallows about one-third of its body weight in water.
This can happen to any breed (we will touch on how it affects smaller and larger dogs later).
The sodium-potassium levels in your dog’s blood become unbalanced when consuming one-third of their body weight in water.
This causes their cells to increase fluid intake, and thus, their organs swell up.
It sounds dramatic, but swelling cells is not so much of a problem as swelling of the brain, which can be lethal.
Hence you should always be wary and keep a constant eye on your dog when playing with or in water.
There are specific signs of water intoxication, and you should check to see if your dog has them if you can tell that something is wrong.
These signs are:
- Excessive drooling
- Pale gums
- Dilated pupils
- Glazed eyes
- Lack of coordination
These are the first warning signs of water intoxication, and if not caught in time, symptoms can progress to where your dog has more severe symptoms such as:
- Difficulty breathing
- Loss of consciousness
Dogs And Aspiration Pneumonia
Aspiration pneumonia is when a dog inhales water (too much) into its lungs.
Treatment of this condition is successful when caught in time.
Typically, you will see symptoms in your dog within 24 and 48 hours of playing with water.
Keeping them away from pressurized water systems is important.
But, again, use logic here because a hose that is just running is not like one that is pressurized from a fire hydrant.
If your dog is coughing or gagging while playing with a pressurized water system, it is a problem, especially if they start to vomit after playing.
Symptoms of aspiration pneumonia for your dog include:
- Loss of appetite
- Trouble breathing
- Blue pigmentation to their lips and gums
Are Smaller Dogs More Susceptible Than Larger Dogs?
Due to their body weight, smaller dogs and puppies are more susceptible to risks when playing with or biting water.
It won’t take a lot to consume one-third of their body weight in water.
Another factor to consider is that puppies don’t know any better and still have not learned to control themselves.
Final Notes on Your Dog Biting Water
Dogs like to bite water because they enjoy playing. They may bite water in pools, bowls, or play from a hose or sprinkler.
There is no need to be concerned if they do because it is considered normal behavior in most cases.
Keep an eye on your dog while they bite and play with water.
If they show any side effects, you should limit their exposure to water.
The two forms of water-induced problems can occur in rare cases, but these are not common or cause concern.
Thus you should not keep your dog from playing with or biting water.
Tim is a proud, vetted, and experienced dog foster carer for a charity helping dog owners escape domestic abuse.
He has years of experience training and caring for dogs, both his own and other people’s.
He is an expert in canine behavior and is highly skilled in dealing with all dogs but specializes in the difficult ones that other people may struggle with.
When he isn’t fostering dogs, he is making friends with other people’s pups!