The Water Is Everywhere
June 9, 2017 3:08 PM   Subscribe

My dog keeps playing in his water dish and making a mess. Any suggestions?

Winston, our 17 month old, 75 pound, chocolate lab (obligipics), loves to stick both his front feet in his water dish and then paw furiously causing the water to go everywhere - half a gallon of water spilled all over the floor and spattered on the walls. How can we either stop this behavior or find some sort of solution? I've tried smaller bowls, bigger bowls, regular sized bowls, glass bowls, plastic bowls, keeping the water outside (this made it tons worse). He's got a nice plastic kiddie pool outside that he can get his water fun fixes in so he's not being deprived of watery entertainment.

I have yet to try only allowing him set timed drink breaks throughout the day because we live in Arizona and it's ridiculously hot and because we also have have a small dog that I'd like to have easy access to drinking. Although, if this is the only way to go, I'm willing to do that.

Kinda sick of slippery floors, soaked walls and going through 3-4 large towels per day to clean up.
posted by Sassyfras to Pets & Animals (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
There are wall mounting auto-filling dog bowls on the market, maybe that would work if you mounted it outside?
posted by k8oglyph at 3:15 PM on June 9, 2017

Have you tried raising the water dish? If you don't want to invest in a tall one, you could try putting it on a stool, but put a towel underneath just in case!

If you have a walk-in shower, I might consider relocating the dish there.
posted by metasarah at 3:20 PM on June 9, 2017 [3 favorites]

Good suggestions however my other dog is very little (7 pound Maltese) and would have trouble getting to the water.
posted by Sassyfras at 3:22 PM on June 9, 2017 [1 favorite]

Is the water in his kiddie pool allowed to get warm/hot? Our dog used to splash just like Winston to cool off his feet. When we provided him with a kiddie pool he could use for this purpose, he visited the water dish only to drink. Actually, in this case the "kiddie pool" was a foil roasting pan, but the principle is the same.
posted by DrGail at 3:26 PM on June 9, 2017

I love this spillproof bowl, the Buddy Bowl. Even if he manages to turn it upside down, you won't have more than a quarter cup of water escape. And it's equally accessible to dogs of all sizes -- my pack has at times included both a 70# lab mix and a 7# min pin. Got it for the RV, to avoid having to dump the water before traveling (and it works -- no sloshing mess). Now I rely on it both at home and on the road. It holds enough water to keep three dogs hydrated for two-three days. Only downside is that it's a bit of a pain to clean.
posted by peakcomm at 3:36 PM on June 9, 2017 [1 favorite]

You can create a custom solution or train the dog not to do this. It will take time, but it can be done. Choose a word for when he splashes in the pool outside- maybe 'good splash' and use your happiest voice and praise him when he splashes outside. The moment he starts to splash inside you tell him, 'no splash' in your firmest, no nonsense tone. While you're going through this process, you may have to restrict watering times, but as long as they are getting the correct volume of water per day, it won't do them harm. It's a short term project. Good luck.
posted by PorcineWithMe at 3:42 PM on June 9, 2017

Can you do a tiny little water dish for the maltese, and a large elevated dish for the lab? Try to direct the lab away from the tiny dish, but even if he does splash it, it's only a cup or so of water?

Try to catch lab in the act and punish bad behavior / reward when he drinks nicely?

Set out the dish, keep one hand on it, if he gets pawsy, use a super sharp NO and take the water away. Say 'Gentle' as you set the dish down. If he gets too excited, repeat the NO and take the water away. Kind of like this, but with water.
posted by hydra77 at 3:42 PM on June 9, 2017 [1 favorite]

Maybe an auto-filling cat fountain bowl--smaller dish, continuously filled.

If it's any comfort, he's a toddler and will eventually knock it off. If it weren't for your little dog I would say he's familiar with sticking his head in the toilet bowl and to let him have at it (our dog does; nothing is comparable to the cool porcelain cleanliness of toilet bowl water, apparently.) but you can't really do that while still providing water for the little dog.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 4:02 PM on June 9, 2017

Same problem here. We use an old cafeteria tray to keep the mess contained and off the floor.

Pet stores sell trays and placemats specifically for this purpose, although the one I tried had a ridiculously low edge, and the water would leak out anyway. So back to the cafeteria tray for us.
posted by SuperSquirrel at 4:22 PM on June 9, 2017

Small bowl on tray (I find boot trays work really well) for little dog, raised bowls for big dog.

My eldest pup, Figlet,l did this all the time as a pup but eventually grew out of it. He does it now only to be an asshole/get my attention.
posted by Fig at 4:51 PM on June 9, 2017

I have two GSDs who are the sloppiest drinkers on the planet and like to drop their balls in the bowls and one of them likes to pick up the full bowl and carry it around spilling water everywhere (why???). I think your best option is a big raised bowl for your lab and a smaller floor bowl for your maltese. Work on training the lab to drink only from the raised bowl.

Is your lab doing this splashing in any predictable way? Like is he still riled up from playing, is he bored, is it when you get back from somewhere, is it when you do a particular thing in the house? Try to find out if there's a way to predict when he's going to do it and then engage/redirect him. This is a time intensive process sadly.

If it's any consolation, my two knuckleheads have grown out of most of their water shenanigans. I think restricting their water was a huge help here because they never have a full bowl of water as a toy option. Now they only drop a ball in there if they bring the ball with them to drink.

I also keep the water bowl on a tray in the bathroom because those are my only waterproof floors and only fill it up all the way when they're super thirsty from activity. If the bowl is empty, they will either sit beside it and wait or bang the bowl around to get my attention, and I will go refill it. I'd rather have to refill their bowl a million times than have to clean up a bunch of extra water, ymmv.

There is no quick fix for this sadly and any solution will involve some form of training. Best of luck!
posted by buteo at 5:37 PM on June 9, 2017 [1 favorite]

Giant hamster water bottle?
posted by deludingmyself at 2:30 PM on June 10, 2017

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