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The Root of the Behavior
A different theory suggests that perhaps Fido's preference for well-dunked toys is an instinct based on the same premise as soaking kibble to soften it. Some dogs do prefer food that has been "loosened up" with a splash or two of water. However, this is not something that is seen in all dogs, and therefore, is likely just an individual preference. Also, we know that dogs in the wild would not have been afforded the luxury of such a plentiful water supply to allow them to soak all food prior to consumption. Time was of the essence to the wild dog. When a food source was procured, it was quickly eaten, buried for later, or taken back to the den for consumption by other members of the pack. One of the more popular suggestions for this behavior is that dogs who choose to dunk their toys in their water dish are engaging in a common practice seen in other wild animals. Many animals in the wild are involved in a process called "caching." Caching is simply the act of burying or hiding food for future use.
Encouraging the Behavior
However, submerging the meat deep underwater would eliminate any lingering meat fragrance. What better way could there be to keep predators away from the dog's next meal? Some dogs not only place objects in their water dishes, they also like to play in them. This could be for a number of reasons. There are some breeds that are considered "water dogs." Because all dogs are highly individual when it comes to personality, likes, and dislikes, there are also some dogs that just really like water. They enjoy playing in it and they are happiest when they are wet. So, it is possible that your dog just really likes water. It is also feasible to consider that maybe Fido is trying to communicate to you that his water is not as fresh as he'd like it to be. Dogs that drop things in their water or even dig their paws in it could potentially be trying to stir up any debris at the bottom of it. It is their attempt at getting to water that is more potable for them.
Other Solutions and Considerations
Our dogs taking their toys and dunking them in their water bowls is not generally a problem that really bothers most owners. It is a relatively harmless behavior that at worst can be mildly annoying from all of the little puddles you find yourself stepping in. If Fido's water play is problematic in your home, there are a few things you can do to help reduce the frustration for you and your family. First, ensure that your dog's dish rests on an absorbent towel to catch any errant splashes or spills. This will save you changing your socks a lot! Secondly, you can reduce Fido's access to his water dish, leaving it available to him only for drinking. This is not preferable as it requires a great deal of management to ensure that Fido is able to get a drink whenever he feels thirsty throughout the day. You do not want him to become dehydrated.