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6 Reasons Why Dogs Get Scared Of The Water Bowl

Just like us, our dogs can also get scared of things that can change their everyday lives.

While some of these fears may seem strange to us, they are very real to the canine friends in our home. A fear of the water bowl is actually quite common in dogs, and often requires a bit of help on our end to help our pups cope. 

So why would your dog be afraid of the water bowl, and how can you help your pup work through this fear?


Can Dogs Have Fears & Phobias Like Humans?

Unfortunately, our furry friends can develop fears and phobias just like humans can. These fears can develop as a result of traumatizing events, discomfort in their surroundings, as well as for no known reason at all. 

While fears of events or objects they don’t often encounter may not be an issue, being afraid of things they see daily can make their lives challenging.

A fear of the water bowl is something that should be addressed, as we always want to make sure our pups are hydrated and healthy. 

Now that you are aware of the fact that fears and phobias can develop in our canine friends, let’s discuss the details behind a fear of the water bowl. 

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Why Is My Dog Afraid Of The Water Bowl?

The water bowl does not seem like a daunting object to you and I, but it can be very scary to some dogs. To help you better understand the many reasons why your dog is afraid of the water bowl, let’s discuss the underlying factors below. 

1. They Don’t Like The Sounds

If your dog seems afraid of their water bowl, they may actually be fearful of the noises the bowl makes. This is common for dogs that drink out of metal water bowls, as the pendant on their collar will clank each time it makes contact with the bowl. 

Not only can the metal bowl make noise when their collar hits the rim, but it can make an eerie scraping sound if it ever moves across the floor. A dog’s ears are much more sensitive than ours, so these noises can be incredibly disturbing. 

2. They Are Afraid Of The Reflection

Have you ever drank out of your favorite mug, only to see your reflection in the cup as you take the last sip? This can happen when our canine friends drink from certain water bowls as well, with some even seeing their reflection when the bowl is full.

Humans can understand the fact that our reflections mean us no harm, but this is not as easy for dogs to recognize. For this reason, many dogs will be afraid of the dog staring back at them in the bowl. If this is the case, your dog may only take an occasional sip of water to avoid making contact with the unknown pup. 

3. They Had A Scary Experience

Many canine friends can develop fears of association. While humans can understand that not all negative experiences are linked to a certain location or object, our pups often cannot. If anything frightening happens while a dog is drinking their water, they may be afraid to approach the water bowl going forward. 

For example, if a dog is drinking water when a loud blast of thunder suddenly booms above, they may think it had something to do with the bowl itself. This fear of association can be challenging to break. 

4. They Don’t Like The Location

The time spent eating and drinking is considered a vulnerable position for a dog. Dogs cannot watch their back when they are consuming food or water, so it’s important for them to feel safe in the space around their bowls. If the area in which their water bowl is placed is stressful for them in any way, they may appear afraid of their bowl. 

Dogs may not like the location of their water bowl if it is in a spot with heavy foot traffic, if it is shared with other dogs they don’t get along with, or if the area in the home is loud. These factors can cause a dog to avoid their water bowl at all costs. 

5. They Are Actually In Pain

If your dog seems to pull away from their water bowl each time they bend down to take a sip, they may not actually be afraid of the bowl at all. Some dogs will avoid their water bowl due to the pain that occurs when bending down, typically as a result of neck or joint pain. Bracing their legs and leaning forward can be incredibly painful for some dogs, which can lead to a fear of association with the water bowl.

If a dog is avoiding their water bowl due to pain, you will typically notice other signs of discomfort in their daily lives. These symptoms can include joint stiffness, difficulty getting up and down, slow to rise after sleeping, change in gait, joint swelling, and decreased range of motion. 

6. They Don’t Like The Material Of the Bowl

Just like you and I, some dogs simply have a preference in the material of bowl they would like to drink from. I know I have my favorite mug when I make a cup of tea, and this is similar to dogs that don’t like to drink or eat from certain bowls. This is extremely common with metal bowls, as many are afraid of the noise and reflection that comes along with them. 

How Can I Help My Dog That Is Afraid Of The Water Bowl?

Now that you are aware of the possible reasons why your dog is afraid of their water bowl, you will need to determine the best plan of action in alleviating their fear. To offer you the tools you need to help your pup, let’s break it down by each cause listed above. 

Reduce Any Sounds

If you think your dog may be afraid of the noises their bowl creates when they drink water, you will want to find a way to eliminate any sounds as best as possible. This can include taking any pendants off their collar, switching to a plastic or ceramic bowl, or placing rubber on the bottom of the bowl to prevent it from sliding. 

Reduce Any Reflections: If you think your dog’s reflection is scaring them when they drink water, it’s a good idea to switch to a bowl that decreases this effect. Metal bowls appear to be the worst for reflections, whereas plastic bowls seem to limit reflections best. 

Find A Quiet Space

If your dog’s food or water bowl is in a chaotic space in your home, we suggest moving them to an area in which your pup can feel safe. This can include a corner in a room without much foot traffic, a cozy spot under a table, and any other area that can allow your dog to feel safe. 

Try A New Bowl

If you cannot think of a reason why your dog is avoiding their bowl, but you do think the bowl is the issue, you can always try switching to a new water bowl. You can offer your pup a few different selections to allow them to choose their favorite. 

Address Any Discomfort

If you think your dog’s neck or joint pain is making it hard for them to drink from their bowl, you will want to raise their water bowl to prevent them from having to strain. You can either place their bowls on a raised stool, or you can purchase a raised food and water bowl set. We also suggest having them seen by their vet for a thorough medical assessment. 

Final Thoughts

Though it may seem odd to us, many canine companions are afraid of their water bowl. As long as you address the underlying cause of your dog’s water bowl fear, you can eliminate this difficulty going forward!


Before making any decisions that could affect the health and/or safety of your dog, you should always consult a trained veterinarian in your local area. Even though this content may have been written/reviewed by a trained veterinarian, our advice to you is to always consult your own local veterinarian in person. Please read our full dislcaimer if you have any questions.