Help Water Hating Dogs Enjoy Water


Dogs experience numerous instances of water interaction. These include cleaning their paws post walks, undergoing baths, engaging in water play, participating in pool swims, among other activities.

Is the individual’s canine companion at ease with water? Does the dog exhibit a startled reaction and retreat upon hearing water sounds or when the shower initiates? In cases where an individual owns a puppy that demonstrates aversion to water, contemplation might arise regarding techniques to assist the pet in conquering this trepidation and cultivating a positive relationship with water. The forthcoming text will present strategies for addressing this fear and facilitating the dog’s inclination towards water.

Find out Why You Hate Water

The Original Roots Are Dog Breeds That Are Not Good at Water

In relation to dogs, there is a prevalent assumption that all canine breeds excel in swimming, eagerly leaping into water bodies and effortlessly navigating through them. However, this notion is not universally accurate. Depending on the specific breed, there exists a subset of dogs that do not possess a natural inclination towards swimming.

Breeds such as Jack Russell Terriers and Beagles, which historically functioned as terrestrial hunting companions, often exhibit a limited affinity for water. Dogs characterized by short legs, like Dachshunds, and brachycephalic breeds, including Pugs and Bulldogs, alongside diminutive breeds like Chihuahuas, Pomeranians, and Maltese, are generally ill-suited for swimming due to their inherent bodily structures. It’s important to recognize that many dogs with certain physical traits inherently lack comfort in aquatic environments.

Conversely, certain dog breeds have a historical background in hunting aquatic prey in collaboration with humans. Breeds like Golden Retrievers, Labrador Retrievers, Standard Poodles, Newfoundlands, English Cocker Spaniels, and Pointer Setters have fulfilled this role. These breeds have consistently demonstrated their proficiency in water-related activities, such as waterfowl hunting and water rescue operations. This aptitude for water and swimming is particularly evident in Retriever breeds, often depicted in various media leaping energetically into water or aiding distressed individuals. Although some of these breeds might not actively seek out water at all times, they inherently possess swimming capabilities.

Nonetheless, individual variances exist. Certain Labrador Retrievers may display a dislike for getting wet, and some Poodles might exhibit aversion to baths. Conversely, there are instances of Chihuahuas that thoroughly enjoy swimming. Other dogs might find warmth in showers but hold an aversion to cold ocean water. Some might resist baths while excelling in pool-based swimming. Dogs exhibit an array of personalities and preferences.

Have Any past Trauma Related to Water?


Moreover, a child who exhibits discomfort around water might have undergone certain distressing incidents previously. These could include:

  1. Being unexpectedly splashed with water.
  2. Facing coercion into swimming in locations such as the ocean or pool against their preferences.
  3. Encountering a distressing situation during their initial shampooing.
  4. Experiencing a sudden fright from seeing their reflection on the water’s surface.

These fears have the potential to endure. It is not unusual for a guardian, despite their affinity for aquatic activities, to encourage their companion to engage in shared swimming, inadvertently leading to the development of trauma in the companion due to such encounters.

If a Dog is Comfortable with Water but Dislikes Shampoo

They Might Exhibit Discomfort with the Clothes Washing Process

Even though they’re fine with drinking water and puddles during walks, they might feel uncomfortable with baths at home, trying to escape or avoiding the bathroom. Could it be that they have a negative impression of past or current bathing methods, and perhaps they’re dissatisfied with the way they’re being washed?

Was the water temperature too hot (or cold), were they held down while being washed, were they scrubbed vigorously causing discomfort, did water get into their face or eyes, were they frightened by the sound of the shower? Are there things that you, as the owner, can relate to? Especially during a puppy’s first bath, if they have experiences similar to those mentioned above, they might develop a sense of fear, and the likelihood of them resisting future baths becomes very high. Just like with human babies, during their first baths, we wash them gently and carefully so as not to frighten them. Dogs have the same feelings too.

Methods to Familiarize Dogs with Water Using Treats and Toys

Get Used to Water with Treats and Toys

Prepare lukewarm water at a temperature of 37-38°C in a bathtub or basin. If certain dogs find the bathroom tiles unfamiliar, it is advisable to place a towel on the floor, allowing the dog to stand on it during the process.

Initiate the process by dampening the dog’s paws gently using a towel or hand and provide immediate rewards in the form of treats and commendation. Initially, several dogs might exhibit surprise and hesitancy. However, offering treats aids in establishing a positive association between water and enjoyment. This procedure should be repeated on multiple occasions.

Once the dog becomes accustomed to damp paws, progress to lightly wetting its back, belly, hindquarters, and tail using the hand. While tenderly stroking the dog, employ phrases such as “Feels pleasant, doesn’t it?” or “It’s warm, isn’t it?” This gradual approach facilitates the dog’s relaxation.

Facial regions are frequently more sensitive for dogs. Instead of directly pouring water over the dog’s head, start by gently dampening areas like the under-eye region, mouth, and neck using a damp towel or hand. Should the dog display signs of discomfort, offer treats and proceed while maintaining a calm demeanor. It is important to avoid restraint or force. When the dog cooperates without resistance, remember to provide enthusiastic praise. Additionally, introducing the dog’s favored toy into the basin can effectively capture its interest.

Acclimating Your Dog to Shower Sounds and Water

After helping your dog adjust to being around water, the next phase involves familiarizing them with the sound of the shower. Begin by allowing the shower to run while your dog is getting accustomed to the presence of water. Be mindful not to set the water pressure too high when starting the shower, as excessive pressure can amplify the sound and startle your dog. It’s advisable to initiate the shower from a slight distance and gradually approach.

If your dog becomes uneasy, using treats to soothe them can be beneficial. This strategy will help them associate the sound of the shower with positive experiences. Once your dog displays signs of comfort, you can direct the water flow gently toward their body, maintaining a mild water pressure. The back is generally less sensitive, so try introducing the water gradually.

As your dog becomes more at ease with showers at home, consider advancing to the next step: swimming together in a pool or the sea. This will provide further exposure to water. Dogs that initially had reservations about water might become intrigued after observing their owner enjoying aquatic activities.

Forcing Dogs to Conquer Their Fear of Water Is Counterproductive

Similar to humans who might fear water due to past negative experiences, many dogs also exhibit aversion to water. Forcing them into water-related situations can intensify their fear and hinder the process of overcoming it. Gradual and gentle exposure to water is essential for helping them acclimate without causing excessive stress.

Additionally, if a dog’s aversion to water is so strong that it might lead to aggressive behavior, attempting inappropriate familiarization can worsen the situation. In such cases, seeking assistance from a professional is advisable rather than pushing the dog into distressing situations.



If a dog can overcome its aversion to water, it can lead to improved bathing experiences and the possibility of engaging in water-based activities like beach outings. These experiences can create positive memories for both the dog and its owner. Additionally, swimming is a low-impact exercise that offers various health benefits, such as weight management and overall fitness, similar to humans. Developing proficiency in swimming might also boost the dog’s confidence and enjoyment. It’s important not to prematurely give up on the idea of helping a water-fearing dog. Identifying the cause of the fear and gradually addressing it can lead to positive outcomes.