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Dog Anxiety Related To Water

Canine anxiety is on the rise. Dogs express anxiety through dozens of different behaviors. An anxious dog may whine, bark, wander around aimlessly, follow his owner from room to room, have random potty accidents in the house, or may always appear eager to go somewhere—anywhere—for no apparent reason at all. Throughout our years of experience in the dog world, we have discovered that anxiety and water are often very closely related. Anxious dogs can become obsessed about drinking water. A dog may be trying to relieve the physical symptoms of his anxiety through drinking. The drinking then becomes psychologically comforting as well. In these circumstances, it is best to limit the dog’s access to water when and if you see your dog engaging in this type of behavior and maintain a strict water schedule with him. And although extremely rare, it is important to mention that certain dogs soothe their anxiety by drinking everything offered to them at all times. These special cases require owners to measure water portions as well as administer the water on a schedule sometimes for the lifetime of the dog.

We are firm believers in using crates to help manage a dog’s behavior and implement structure into a dog’s life. We advise crating your dog overnight, while you are away, for meals, and at least one hour per day when you are home. However, allowing your dog access to water in the crate may intensify his symptoms of anxiety in the crate. For the logistics of administering water in the crate, we would recommend using a non-tip bowl or a bucket. If you are looking for a bucket that your dog can’t easily spill or displace when empty, these Kennel Gear buckets are awesome! If your dog is able to knock his water over in his crate, the signs of his anxiety will likely increase because now he is wet and uncomfortable. He may begin whining, barking, or even trying to break out of his crate. For this situation, it is best to limit your dog’s water intake inside the crate and offer him water exclusively outside of the crate.

Another scenario involving anxiety in the crate would be if you leave your dog water in the crate, and even though he doesn’t spill it, he still appears to be more anxious in the presence of water. It is our belief this occurs for two reasons. First, the water gives the dog something to do in his crate to alleviate his anxiety—drink. Drinking may pacify him at first, but then drinking may in fact increase his anxiety because it is giving him an outlet. If he feels stress, then he drinks a few sips of water. Engaging in the activity of drinking begins perpetuating the anxiety. By limiting the water, your dog has fewer options of exhibiting anxious behavior. Secondly, drinking water can in fact increase drooling, whining, and similar anxious indicators solely based on a dog having extra moisture in his mouth.

We would never recommend giving a dog full access to water in a crate right out of the gate. Try crating your dog without water for a specified amount of time. Then introduce water for only 5-10 minutes, and note any negative behavior changes from your dog. If the water doesn’t seem to adversely affect your dog’s behavior in the crate then gradually work up to your dog having full access to water. The same rules apply for bedding in the crate. Just like with water, as a dog owner, you first want to see a baseline of calm behavior in a crate before introducing a blanket to make the crate more comfortable for him. Digging in the bedding can increase anxiety. Allowing your dog to shred his bed is allowing the dog to rehearse anxious behavior. And most seriously, if the dog ingests the bedding, not only is he acting anxious when destroying the bedding, but he could now also be at risk for an intestinal or bowel obstruction because of swallowing a foreign object.

This article by no means applies to all dogs. Certain adult dogs can have full access to water 24-7 without any fallout. Of course if it is extremely hot out and your dog has been exercising outdoors, you will offer your dog additional water if you routinely keep him on a strict water schedule. These tips are intended to help those with dogs who suffer from anxiety see a potential correlation between anxiety and water. If your dog is displaying any of the anxious behaviors mentioned, be conscious of the severity of these symptoms. Be present to the role water plays in affecting your dog’s anxiety levels both in and out of the crate. If you have any questions about the topics addressed in this article or if you can personally relate to any of the issues presented, please feel free to comment below. 

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