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Ask AKC: Water Bowl Mess

American Kennel Club, Inc. (c) 2011

Dear Lisa: I have a 10-month-old German Shepherd Dog whom I am training to be my service dog. He is doing beautifully with one exception which will pose a problem for me. When he drinks he walks away from the bowl with a mouthful of water and spreads it all over the floor. This is a lot of water not just small drops. I have tried narrow necked bowls, I have tried holding his head over the dish after a drink and he resists this and then will not drink. I have tried putting just a little water in his bowl, nothing works. This will cause difficulty when we are out in public and is a constant irritant at home. He has done this since I got him from the breeder at 12 weeks. --Water Bowl Woes
Many years ago I saw this fascinating science show on how animals drink water which included slow motion video of dogs. It showed that dogs plunge their tongue into the bowl of water and then curl them backwards to create a ladle to scoop up the water into the bottom of their mouths! They are literally splashing the water to the back rather than politely sipping which can be quite messy. I had a female show dog once who was also a real messy drinker. Here are some tricks I learned to help keep things dry.

At home I placed a small ceramic water bowl in each room of the house with a very small amount of water in it. I also put a towel or cotton bathroom mat under it to absorb any water which spilt. Since it was so little water there wasn't much to spill. If she was still thirsty she went to the other bowls in the house. The towels really helped and could be easily hung out to dry.

On the road or at dog shows when large bowls of water weren't readily available, I used ice cubes and a spray bottle. You can request ice cubes in a bowl at a restaurant. It will keep your dog occupied chewing on the cubes and give him the needed hydration. Also, you can take a spray bottle and lift his lip and spray several squirts at a time and have him swallow that as well. These tips work well on the road, but when you get home he may still want a decent amount of water. Place him in a crate with a bowl on a towel which will keep the water limited to the floor of the crate for easy clean-up.

 

If you have a question, send it to Lisa at lxp@akc.org and she may select it for a future column. Due to the high volume of questions she cannot offer individual responses.