Dog owners often mistakenly believe that it’s impossible for a dog to feel the fear of water.
However, in reality, the truth might be quite different. Almost 40% of dogs of all breeds are afraid of water, and there could be a couple of reasons for such an issue.
Therefore, it’s very important to represent a dog with it properly and to help him in overcoming his fear.
In case you want to find out how you can help your dog to deal with aquaphobia, then this article might help you.
What Could Be the Reasons for A Dog’s Fear of Water?
1. Some Dog Breeds Aren’t Capable of Swimming
First of all, not all dog breeds are good swimmers. Dog breeds such as French bulldogs, English bulldogs, and other short and compactly built dogs will always sink like rocks. That’s why it is highly advisable to provide them with life swimming jackets.
2. Lack of Socialization
Another reason may present a dog’s lack of socialization. A dog that lives in a kennel or a shelter has probably not been properly socialized. Every dog deserves to have the opportunity to discover how the outside world works. He should be allowed to sniff the plants, hear the sound of traffic, and to meet other dogs as well.
A dog that has never been able to run through wet grass in the morning will be on a higher risk to become afraid of water in the future.
That’s why it is highly recommended to start to socialize a puppy early.
Vets, breeders, and behavior specialists recommend to start it from the moment you’ve just brought a puppy home. It includes allowing a puppy to sniff on home items, to become introduced with different shapes, and to feel & memorize your smell.
3. Bad Experience in the Puppyhood
Some dogs can become afraid of water because of the bad experience they had in the past. A puppy or a dog that experienced drowning will definitely develop bad associations with water.
Bathing a dog in cold or freezing water may also present one of the possible reasons for a dog’s aquaphobia.
4. A Dog Doesn’t Know What Water Is.
This fact might sound silly because we all know that dogs drink water like all other living beings, right?
However, a pooch might get scared of the sea, ocean, river, lakes, and other grandeur waters. He might start acting strange to hear waves, and water splashing because it’s something he saw for the first time.
Symptoms of a dog’s fear of water
Since our dogs can’t tell us what bothers them, we are the only ones who should notice any strange behavior. A dog that goes through an aquaphobia will show some of the following symptoms:
In most cases, a dog’s aquaphobia can be exceeded by the owner’s help and regular training.
The symptoms are usually more difficult to solve in a shelter and rescue dogs, many of whom have been physically abused. While there are dogs that can overcome the problem with the help of their loving families, there are also those that need professional help.
A pooch that experiences a severe level of stress will also need medical treatment and specially tailored training.
It might look like a mild case issue, but in fact, a dog can go through a life treating condition. Sometimes, obedience training seems like the best choice than even the most loving owner who wants to help.
Usually, the outcome will be an improvement, not complete rehabilitation. Therefore, it’s advisable to look for a reputable behavior specialist who will help your dog forever.
Should I use medication for my dog’s fear of water?
It’s true that medication doesn’t present a permanent solution and is not a good choice. However, in certain situations, when a dog refuses regular bathings and expresses severe symptoms of anxiety, medication is highly recommended.
What are the Symptoms of a Severe Level of a Dog’s Aquaphobia?
- Flattened ears
- Lip licking
- Tucked tail between hind legs
- Rapid heart rate
- Flopped ears
- Loss of control over bladder
In case of some of the previously mentioned symptoms, your vet might prescribe you a medication for your pooch.
When a dog is unable to respond to behavioral approaches alone, appropriate medicines can help a lot because a dog in stressful situations is unable to deal with a problem.
Therefore, medication alone is not a solution but might help your four-legged friend where behavioral approaches can work.
Rules to follow when helping a dog to overcome the fear of water
When you already determined your dog’s aquaphobia, there are 2 of rules that every dog owner should take into account:
Don’t force your dog to jump into the water
There is nothing worse than forcing a dog to have a bath or swim. In that way, you will only create the opposite effect. You can help your furry friend only by mutual understanding, having trust, and with a lot of patience.
Don’t Try to Trick a Dog
Tricking a dog is also not recommended because, in that way, a dog will only lose trust in you. Dogs are very intelligent and social beings that remember the bad experiences they had in the past.
Solutions for Conquering A Dog’s Aquaphobia
1. Gradually Introduce a Dog with Water
In case you represent a dog with a large amount of water for the first time, it’s recommended first to splash him for a few times.
You can do that by playing near water and perform the activities he likes. For example, it could be playing fetch or running.
2. Take your Dog’s Favorite Treats
We all know that food presents a dog’s main tool for learning. Giving a dog treats is equal to human’s drinking a morning coffee.
Therefore, why not try it? Try to make your dog feel comfortable and relaxed near the water by telling him some praise words and using treats.
Don’t stay surprised if you see that a dog still acts suspiciously and takes the treat and then goes a few steps back. It’s the sign that he’s still unsure of something.
3. Tell Praise Words to a Dog
Every dog likes to hear praise words from his owner because it’s the sign that he did something good. Dogs are social beings that like to feel someone’s support.
4. Take your Dog’s Favorite Toys
It’s a fact that dogs like playing with toys and that there’s always a favorite one that he will prefer.
You can help your four-legged friend to become relaxed by taking his favorite toys when going swimming or having a bath.
5. Consider Buying a Kiddy Pool
Kiddy pools present a much better choice before you start introducing a dog with large surfaces of water. It’s recommended to install a kiddy pool in your yard and first spontaneously to play around it.
6. Buy a Water Sprinkler
On a hot summer day, there is nothing better than cooling off with water in a yard. We are sure that your pooch will adore it.
7. Gradually Take a Dog into the Water
Once your dog became relaxed near water, it’s time to get it. He might jump freely and figure out it’s nothing to be scared of. Another case scenario is to hold a dog with your hands and to gradually lower him into the water.
In case a dog quickly jumps out of the water, it’s advisable to reward him with treats and to repeat the lesson when he settles down again.
8. Buy a Dog Life Jacket
Since there are dogs that are not such great swimmers, it’s highly important to buy a life jacket that will prevent him from drowning.
However, it’s also advisable not to leave a dog to swim without supervision even though he wears it. Note that he can easily overturn due to fear.
9. Bring a Water-loving Dog with You
A dog will become more likely to get into the water if he sees another dog’s having a great time. Therefore, you might consider taking your friend’s dog to swim because it will definitely be a great lesson.
10. Let your Dog Run in the Rain
Why not allow your dog to run or walk in the rain? In that way, you will be a step closer to introducing him with water. Playing fetch when it rains lightly will certainly thrill him!
Why is Swimming Important for a Dog?
Besides swimming presents a great exercise, it actually leaves dozens of beneficial effects on your dog’s body. A dog that suffers from arthritis and painful joints might find swimming as the best pain-releasing sport.
Another great fact is that a pleasantly tired dog will be less prone to making home messes. Spending a fun time at the beach will definitely make him sleep a long afterward.
Since our pooches can’t escape their fur, they will actually be very grateful to cool off their furry bodies. You must admit there’s nothing better than swimming on a hot summer day.