Skip to Content

Is it normal for dogs to hate water?

For most dogs, playing in water is one of life’s greatest joys. However, some dogs seem to have an aversion to getting wet. Is it normal for dogs to hate water? Let’s take a look at the facts.

Why Do Most Dogs Love Water?

The majority of dogs are natural swimmers and absolutely love frolicking in lakes, pools, and other bodies of water. Here are some of the main reasons why dogs tend to enjoy water so much:

  • Instinct – Many dog breeds were originally bred to retrieve prey from the water for hunters. Retrievers, spaniels, poodles, and other dogs have an innate drive to get wet.
  • Cooling Off – Dogs don’t sweat like humans do. Playing in water helps them regulate their body temperature on hot days.
  • Fun – Running and splashing in water is great exercise and amusement for high-energy pups.
  • Toys – Dogs love chasing after sticks, balls, and other toys tossed into a lake or pool.
  • Bonding – Swimming and playing in water is a great way for dogs to bond with their human families.

So for most canines, water play comes naturally and is an enjoyable form of recreation and bonding. However, each dog is an individual with unique personality traits.

Reasons Some Dogs Dislike Water

While most dogs are paddling prodigies, some pups are decidedly hydrophobic and prefer to avoid water. Here are some of the main reasons why certain dogs may hate or fear getting wet:

  • Breed – Some breeds are less inclined to enjoy water than others. Sighthounds like Greyhounds tend to avoid swimming and aquatic play.
  • Coat Type – Dogs with very thick double-coats like Huskies or Samoyeds may dislike swimming because their fur takes a long time to dry out.
  • Size – Very small or toy breed dogs may not enjoy water as they have to work much harder to keep their short legs afloat.
  • Bad Experience – If a dog nearly drowned or had a traumatic experience in water, they understandably may develop an aversion.
  • Temperature Sensitivity – Some dogs feel cold more easily and prefer to stay warm and dry.
  • Training – Lack of exposure to water and swimming during a dog’s early socialization period can lead to fear later in life.
  • Health Issues – Conditions like arthritis may make swimming painful for older dogs.

The most common cause of water hatred in dogs is a lack of pleasant experiences and gradual exposure to water during puppyhood. But health problems, breed tendencies, and prior bad experiences can also contribute to aquaphobia.

Signs Your Dog Hates Water

How can you tell if your canine companion would rather stay high and dry? Here are some clues that your dog is no fan of H2O:

  • Hesitates or refuses to go in water – They resist going into a lake or pool and may put on the brakes or try to avoid getting wet when outdoors.
  • Shakes off immediately – If your dog goes in water, they frantically try to shake off any drops as soon as they get out.
  • Won’t play with water toys – Your dog has no interest in chasing or retrieving floating toys placed in water.
  • Dislikes baths – Does your dog hate bathtime and either try to escape or shake and shiver during their bath?
  • Stays away from outdoor water – They avoid puddles, streams, ponds, etc. when outdoors and don’t investigate splashing water.
  • Seeks warm, dry places – When given the choice, your dog heads to the warmest, driest spot they can find.

There’s nobreed standard for water hatred – individual dogs of any background can vary in their affinity for H2O. But pay attention to how your furry friend responds to aquatic environments.

Is It OK for Dogs to Avoid Water?

The most important question for guardians of water-averse pups is: should you try to get your dog to like water? Or is it ok for some dogs to opt out of pools and ponds? Here are some things to consider:

  • Safety first – Being able to handle water safely is an important skill for any dog. You don’t want your dog to fall in a pool and be unable to swim. Try to slowly acclimate skittish dogs.
  • Go at their pace – Forcing fearful dogs into water will only traumatize them more. Let timid pups approach water gently.
  • Find alternatives – If your dog hates baths, a damp towel rubdown can keep their coat clean. Or let them play in a kiddie pool filled with a shallow amount of water.
  • Don’t worry about fun – It’s fine if your dog doesn’t love fetching toys from a lake for hours. As long as they learn water safety basics, it’s ok if they’d rather stay on dry land.
  • Watch for issues – Extreme water avoidance could signal physical problems like arthritis or hip dysplasia. Check with your vet.
  • Prepare for surprises – Your hydrophobic hound may spontaneously decide to take their first swim at age 8. Keep an open mind as their preferences may evolve.

At the end of the day, it’s most important to meet your individual dog’s needs and not stress too much if they prefer living that dry dog life. Stay patient, go at their pace, and don’t force it if they seem truly unhappy or afraid around water. Not every dog has to be an Olympic swimmer!

Tips for Helping Water Hating Dogs

What can you do to warm up a wary, water-hating pup to getting wet while keeping the experience positive? Here are some handy tips:

  • Start young – Introduce water gradually to puppies during their early socialization window before 12-16 weeks old.
  • Try a kiddie pool – Let them stand in a few inches of water first so they see it’s nothing to fear.
  • Use toys and treats – Associate water with fun and yummy rewards.
  • Get in first – Your dog may feel braver about approaching water if you go in first.
  • Begin baths gently – Use a detachable sprayer and don’t blast them in the face at first so bath time doesn’t seem scary.
  • Invest in a doggy life jacket – It will help them feel more buoyant and confident around lakes or pools.
  • Be patient – It may take many small, calm exposure sessions before they enjoy water.
  • Keep it warm – Lukewarm water can be less intimidating for chilly canines.

Building up your dog’s water tolerance gradually using treats, toys, praise, and allowing them to voluntarily explore at their own pace are the keys to success. But let your pooch set the timeline rather than pushing them too fast.

When to Seek Help

If your dog is extremely afraid of water or their avoidance interferes with normal activities, seeking help from an animal behaviorist or certified dog trainer may be beneficial. Professional guidance can help dogs safely overcome phobias related to water.

Signs that specialized intervention may be warranted for a water-fearful dog include:

  • Panic near water – Extreme shaking, crying, hiding, or trying to frantically escape from water.
  • Aggression – Snarling, growling, or biting when water is present.
  • Inability to bath – Being unable to bathe your dog due to their severe stress and fear.
  • Avoids potty breaks – Not urinating or defecating due to avoiding going outside when it’s raining or snowing.
  • Obsessive avoidance – Going to exaggerated lengths to stay away from any water, even small amounts.
  • Hurts themselves trying to escape water – Jumping out windows or through screens to get away from water sources.

While it’s quite normal for some dogs to politely decline a dip in the lake, extreme terror, phobias, or dangerous avoidance of water warrant addressing with professional training guidance.

Never Force a Fearful Dog

If your dog seems afraid around water, patience and going at their comfort level is key. Forcing a frightened dog into water or pouring water on them will only make matters worse by exacerbating their fear. Take it slow and use rewards-based techniques to create a positive association, rather than flooding or scaring them.


At the end of the day, it’s perfectly normal for some percentage of dogs to greatly prefer staying dry over taking a dunk in the doggie pool. Breed tendencies, past experiences, physical issues, and temperament make avoiding water prudent for certain pups. As long as your dog learns basic water safety, don’t stress too much if they opt out of mud puddles and dock diving.

That said, a proper introduction to water and swim lessons can build water confidence in young dogs. If your mature dog has developed an extreme phobia or aversion that interferes with bathing, play, or potty time, seek help from a certified animal behavior expert. With time, patience, and positive reinforcement most water-wary dogs can at least tolerate getting wet when needed.

Wanting to remain dry is certainly no crime, even for members of a traditionally water-loving species like dogs. So embrace your land lubber pup for who they are, while taking precautions to prevent trauma or tragedy around bodies of water. With understanding and compassion, even the dampness-averse dog can have a full, fun, and safe life.