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My dog is obsessed with drinking water

How can I stop my dog from drinking so much water?

My dog has a drinking problem. No, not that kind of problem. Ace does like booze, but we’ll save that for another post 🙂

What I’m referring to is Ace’s obsession with drinking water, and how I’ve managed to train him to think he’s not supposed to drink any water at all.

Ace came to me with a few OCDs – retrieving and drinking. He does not have an “off switch” and will literally keep on drinking water until it’s gone unless someone takes it away or tells him to stop.

He has drank an entire toilet bowl of water on several occasions, and he throws up almost every day from drinking mass amounts of water so quickly. I’ve seen him try to drink all the water from our kiddie pool and all the water from my mom’s fountain.

My “command” for Ace to stop drinking water has always been “that’s enough!” This works, but his obsession is so bad that I have to say it in an angry voice in order for him to “hear” me. Usually I actually am mad because I’m sick of cleaning up his drool and puke 🙂

I was sitting on the couch recently and Ace was lying on the floor crying. I could not figure out what the big baby wanted. I took him outside and he didn’t have to go.

Sometimes he cries if he’s hungry or if he wants to play ball, but he had already eaten and there wasn’t a tennis ball in sight. Then I realized he was facing his full water dish.

My dog was crying because he thought he couldn’t drink water without my permission!

I said “OK!” and he ran over and tried to drink the whole bowl.

My dog thinks he has to wait for a command to drink. Or, he waits until I leave the room and he can “sneak” some water.

My dog is obsessed with food, too

I’ve always made Ace wait until I say “OK” before he eats, and now he thinks the same concept applies to drinking. This doesn’t sound like such a big deal, but the second I go upstairs or into the garage, I can hear Ace run to his bowl and try to drink all the water as fast as he can before I get back! I’ve made my dog’s water obsession even worse.

Ace will eat any amount of food I give him. My dog is always hungry. If I were to give him six cups instead of his usual 1.5, he would eat the entire 6 cups. If I spilled a whole bag on the ground, Ace (and a certain fat cat I know) would attempt to eat every last piece.

Dogs are dependent on us and conditioned to eat whatever we put in front of them. They do not stop to think about the amount of food. They just eat whatever is there because it’s there.

My dog is the same way with water. He doesn’t understand the concept of drinking until he is no longer thirsty. He only knows to drink until the water is gone. If I fill the bowl up again, he drinks it all immediately.

How to stop my dog from drinking so much water

Since “correcting” Ace for drinking too much water has confused him, a better approach for this case is to use positive reinforcement. I will reward him whenever he walks away from the bowl on his own before the water is gone. The reward could be food or a tennis ball or maybe a walk.

This won’t happen naturally at first. Instead, I’ll “just happen” to have some treats in my hand when I fill his water bowl. We’ll see what happens!

Techniques that did not work to stop my dog from drinking too much water

Ace the black lab mix dog tries to drink too much water. He's obsessed with drinking water.

1. Using a command stop my dog from drinking water

Using the command “that’s enough!” to signal Ace to stop drinking is not a solution to the problem because this makes him dependent on me to tell him when to stop drinking. If I’m not in the room, he drinks the whole bowl. It does work as a temporary solution if I happen to be in the same room. I usually say “that’s enough” followed by “go to your bed.”

I chose not to use “leave it” or “no” because I didn’t want Ace to think water is totally off limits. Obviously this didn’t work because my dog thinks “that’s enough” means “don’t you dare drink water in my presence.”

2. Keeping a giant bucket of water available at all times

With a ton of water always available, I was hoping Ace would realize the water wasn’t going anywhere so there would be no need to drink it all. This idea did not work since Ace believes all water is meant to be consumed immediately. When I left the whole bucket out, he tried to drink all the water and I had to eventually say “that’s enough.”

Some pet might prefer to drink from a fountain. See my PetSafe Drinkwell pet water fountain review.

3. Using a water bottle

I received a travel water bottle for Ace designed to hang inside his kennel (thanks, Tawna!). The water bottle is a large version of what a hamster uses to drink from. It’s designed so the dog can drink from the “straw” without spilling water in his crate. It also requires the dog to drink very slowly.

I tried using this as Ace’s only water source for a few days but he didn’t use it often enough, and he wasn’t getting enough water. It made him even more obsessive when I finally did put a bowl out again.

4. DogPause bowl

The DogPause bowl (pictured, top) is designed to slow the dog down while eating, and it is what I use for Ace’s water. 

The bowl is divided into four compartments so Ace has to drink each one, pausing between each. He still drinks the entire bowl, but it does slow him down slightly. You may be interested in my review on the DogPause Bowl.

A dog’s water obsession could be a sign of a physical problem

I do want to mention that if your dog suddenly starts drinking a ton of water, it could be a sign that something is physically wrong, especially if this is not normal behavior for him. Drugs like prednisone make dogs extremely thirsty, and increased thirst can also be a symptom of kidney issues or diabetes. Talk to your dog’s vet if you have any concerns.

I talked with Ace’s vet about his water issue, and we concluded that it is most likely just another one of his OCDs. Now that I’ve put more thought into it, I’d like to talk to the vet again and consider some tests just to make sure.

Do you have any ideas for stopping a dog from drinking so much water?

Have you unintentionally trained your dog to do (or not do) something?

Let me know in the comments!

Aug. 9, 2011 update: Ace drinks less water these days as long as I keep a big bowl of water available at all times. He still drinks a lot of water at once, but he’s less obsessive about drinking the whole bowl.

As long as there’s always water available, he doesn’t try to drink it all at once. I still have to tell him “that’s enough” sometimes. And if he’s had a lot to drink, I have him stay on his dog bed for a good 20 minutes. This has decreased his throwing up almost completely. Instead of cleaning up dog puke every day, I clean up dog puke about twice a month.

2018 update: Sadly, Ace has passed away but he lived a long, happy life.

Matthew Davis

Thursday 30th of August 2018

We have a 4 month old Irish Setter puppy that drinks water like there's no tomorrow. The breed can be prone to bloat, so I'm trying to find out why she does this and how to stop.

One thing I found mentioned is that a dog that will eat or drink as much as possible is because food and/or water is seen as a valued resource. They may have had access to it limited so they get it when they can and in mass quantities. One source said to monitor the dog drinking and after a short amount of time to step between the dog and the bowl but don't remove the bowl. Essentially the goal is to condition the dog to realize the food and water is not a finite resource.


Wednesday 2nd of November 2016

I have a 13 week old GSD that seems to just be obsessed with consuming anything he can get his mouth on. That includes water. He inhales his food as if he's never going to eat again, it hasn't slowed down at all since he's been aging. I expect this from little little puppies when they're fighting over food once theyre weened, but 7-6 weeks later one would thing that obsession would subside a bit, but not with this one! He is like a lot of your dogs and will drink as much water as he can and look for more no matter how much he's given. He gorges himself until he's so bloated he can barely walk. I honestly don't get it.. my first instinct is to say he's just obsessed with having his belly full of something, anything! When I first got him he would inhale rocks faster than you could blink. He's slowly gotten out of that habit bc I correct him every time he would even attempt it, but I have to give him water and the obsession just won't quit! I'm trying to potty train him too so it's making it difficult. If I restrict it, he's twice as bad and drinks more frantically.. if I leave it out he inhales it to the point of exploding. Frustrating and have never even heard of a dog being obsessed with water until I started researching his issue.


Monday 8th of August 2016

My 7lb chihuahua rescue is obsessed with water. He, like many others, will drink until his stomach is completely engorged. He will obsessively lick the bathtub dry if he gets into the bathroom. He searches for drops of water everywhere in the house - in the kitchen, near bathrooms, near house plants... anywhere he's found it before. He'll lick the door mat if it's raining outside and you've just come in. He compulsively checks all the 'water places' daily. If he accidentally gets into the bathtub, and you go into the bathroom and call his name, or try to remove him, he goes into rage, baring his teeth. If you let him stay, he'll be in there for 5-10 minutes easily.

We have decided keep the bathroom closed at all times.

As far as his regular water, we ration his water throughout the day. We provide a portion of his daily water after each walk, meal, and trip outside. It's helped. It's a routine that we can all function in... and helps to mitigate him peeing inside due to physically being unable to hold it after a OCD drinking session.

I won't go on about our protocols for walking him in the rain... but that has been another huge challenge. The Gentle Leader has been extremely important.


Thursday 10th of November 2016

Oh my gosh! This sounds EXACTLY like the 7 month old lab/hound mix I have been fostering for the past 2 months! I mean to a T...the shower, the sidewalks when it's rained, the sinks every time you turn one on, never ends! Have you had any success since your last post? She was given a round of antibiotics but that did nothing ( I didn't think it would) and I am convinced it's psychological, she has an adoption event this Saturday, and she could potentially go to a new home so this might be too little to late, but for my own sake I would love to know.

Thank you!


Monday 1st of July 2013

I have a 12 year old maltese and she drinks a lot of water and when there is no water in her bowl she comes to me and barks at me for more and I say no sometimes it helps and sometimes it doesn't and she pees everywhere in the house in my room and the ktichen area and shen wines when she wants more warter how can I stop her from drinking a lot of water.

Lindsay Stordahl

Tuesday 2nd of July 2013

If you haven't already you may want to rule out a physical problem with her vet.

After that, it's tough. I would probably just measure the amount of water she gets, and then ignore her when she begs for more. You could try different types of bowls that slow her down. Also teach her a solid down/stay command so you can always get her to lie down and leave you alone. Another option would be to give her some sort of toy as a distraction such as a Kong toy filled with canned dog food and frozen.


Thursday 6th of June 2013

My husky has a massive obsession with water. Once its gone its like the end of the world to her. The crying NEVER STOPS! It's hard to sleep in the middle of the night when a loud dog is howling, whining, barking and freaking out. We give her a pitcher of water, size of a juice pitcher you put in your fridge. 3 times daily. Its STILL not enough!! We even have a pause bowl for her! But, i'm the ONLY one her ever puts her water in there. Everyone else who takes care of her puts her the water in the food dish and vis versa. Because the water dish looks weird people assume its food dish? not likes it matters much she still found a way to chug her water down at record speed. One 2 litre bowl of water would be gone in a half hour or less.

She also cries and whines when a specific "kibble" isn't available in her food dish. It is so mentally draining, and she's stressing me out. The only way to make her "shut up" is to put her in her kennel and put a blanket over it. We're not even sure WHY she's doing this, or why she's being so obnoxious. It's lead me to believe that all huskies are just as annoying as her, and I will never get another one!


Thursday 6th of June 2013

Akira, i can really identify and empathize with the obnoxious, if not completely insane-making nature of your husky's water obsession. It does sound like alot of water you're giving him. I don't find alot of people out there who are really helpful in the case of a psychological obsession like this... I had people who tried to help, but the vets basically threw up their hands. I wish the dog whisperer would clone himself and visit those of us who have obsessed animals.... it can begin to drive you insane. Good luck and God bless you and the dog. It's NOT hopeless!! I don't know what you think about the Dog Whisperer....but if you have checked out the dog medically, and there's nothing physically wrong with him, then I would watch the episodes of the Dog Whisperer where he is dealing with dogs with obsessions and practice his techniques! WEndy

Lindsay Stordahl

Thursday 6th of June 2013

My cat is like this with food. It's incredibly annoying and frustrating. He meows and harasses us non-stop to eat. He can never get enough food. I wish I had some advice for you. Of course, you may want to get a vet's opinion to rule out a medical problem. That sure sounds like a ton of water! Best of luck to you.