How to Train a Puppy to Drink Water

How to Train a Puppy to Drink Water
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Time icon2-8 Days
General training category iconGeneral

Introduction

Imagine setting down a bowl of water and watching your puppy as he walks over to take a drink. The image is far from glamorous or exciting for most people, but if you have a puppy that needs to wean from its mother and be able to drink water from a bowl, or a puppy that currently gets most of its water from wet dog food and needs to make the switch to dry food, or is becoming more active and you worry about dehydration, there is nothing more exciting than the thought of your puppy taking a drink of water. Perhaps your puppy is recovering from a surgery or an illness and lacks the motivation to drink. Whether you are teaching your puppy to drink water for the first time or you are reteaching your puppy to drink water after an illness, being able to drink water is vital for your puppy's health.

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Defining Tasks

Teaching your puppy to drink water is fairly simple. It will take most puppies between two and eight days to learn. For an older puppy that simply needs to be motivated to drink it could take as little as one day.

If you are worried about dehydration at any point, and your puppy is not responding to the method quickly enough to resolve the issue right away, then contact your veterinarian immediately. Dehydration can be very dangerous, especially in small puppies, and your puppy might need to receive IV fluids while he is learning how to drink. Dehydration can make puppies nauseous and that can further discourage a puppy from eating or drinking.

If your puppy does not respond to these methods, or if your puppy used to drink from another bowl or in another location alright but will not drink anymore, your puppy might be frightened of something in his environment or might be sick. If you suspect an illness, then take your puppy to your veterinarian immediately. Dehydration can happen quickly.

 If you suspect fear is keeping your puppy from drinking, look into the following possible causes. If your puppy's bowl is reflective, like a metal bowl, it might be frightening to your puppy because of the lights, shadows, and clanging noises that the bowl makes. If you are using a water jug or a water cooler that holds large amounts of water, then the jug or the cooler might be frightening for your puppy because of the random noises and bubbles that occur when your puppy drinks. There also might be something that your puppy finds scary in the location where his water bowl is. To test whether or not that is the problem, place the bowl in another room and see if your puppy will drink the water there. If you have multiple dogs, although rare, sometimes one dog will claim the water bowl as his own and will use intimidation or aggression to keep the other dog, such as your puppy, away. The threatening dog does not have to be next to the water in order to do this, but simply close enough for your puppy to hear or see him. Try taking your other dog out of the room, to where your puppy can no longer see or hear him, and then encourage your puppy over to the bowl with treats.

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Getting Started

To get started you will need water and a small, non-reflective, water bowl. Once your puppy learns to drink from a non-reflective bowl then you can try using a metal bowl if you would like to. Only use a metal bowl if your puppy is not afraid of it though. If you are using the 'Broth' method then you will need low, or ideally, no sodium chicken or turkey broth. If you choose to make your own broth, do not add any salt. If you purchase your broth, then check the ingredients and make sure that they do not contain anything that is unsafe for dogs. Ingredients to avoid include onions, garlic, xylitol, nuts other than peanuts, grapes, chocolate, alcohol, caffeine, avocados, and chicken or turkey bones. Some of these ingredients might be tolerated by your dog in very small amounts, such as garlic, but others can be extremely dangerous in any amount, such as xylitol.

If you are using the 'Ice' method then you will also need crushed ice. You can either crush cubes of ice yourself by placing them into a plastic bag and hammering them or, if you have a refrigerator with a crushed ice dispenser, you can use ice from there and simply pick out the pieces that are the appropriate size for your dog.

If you are using the 'Food' method, you will also need pieces of your puppy's dry dog food or treats that your puppy loves. The food or treats will need to be small and will need to float in water. Most dry dog food will float and most dry treats, including freeze-dried meat treats, will as well. With all of the methods, you will need patience, calmness, and a happy and encouraging attitude. You will need to make drinking from a water bowl something pleasant and avoid any sort of punishment or harshness that could lead to fear in your puppy.

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The Broth Method

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Prepare broth

To begin, either make or buy low or no sodium chicken or turkey broth. If you are making the broth yourself, then do not add any salt to it. If you purchase the broth, be sure to check the ingredients to make sure they are safe for your dog.

2

Fill bowl

Fill a small bowl with half a cup of water, then add one and a half tablespoons of chicken broth to it.

3

Offer water

Offer the water and broth mixture to your puppy, and encourage him to take a drink.

4

Decrease broth

When your puppy will drink the water and broth, then gradually decrease the amount of broth in the water. Decrease the amount of broth over time, until your puppy will drink the water without any broth in it.

5

Increase water

When your puppy will drink the water without any broth in it, add water to the bowl, so that the bowl contains the amount of water that you would like to leave out for your puppy.

The Ice Method

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Crush ice

To begin, crush a piece of ice into at least five pieces. If your puppy is a small breed puppy, then crush the ice cube into at least nine pieces.

2

Feed ice

Feed your puppy a couple of the ice pieces from your hand. If your puppy will not eat them from your hand, then slide them, one at a time, across the floor, so that your puppy will chase after them and become interested in eating them. After your puppy will eat the ice from the floor, try feeding them from your hand again.

3

Add the bowl

When your puppy will eat the ice from your hand, place the ice pieces into a shallow bowl and offer the bowl to your puppy. If your puppy seems hesitant, place your hand, with the ice inside, into the bowl, and let your puppy eat it out of your hand. Do this until your puppy is comfortable. When he is comfortable, try feeding it from just the bowl again, without your hand.

4

Add water

When your puppy is comfortable eating the ice out of the bowl, add just enough water to the bowl to cover the ice slightly. Give this to your puppy.

5

Add more water

When your puppy is comfortable eating the ice in the water, then double the amount of water in the bowl.

6

Remove the ice

When your puppy is comfortable eating the ice out of the water and will lap up the water to drink also, then remove the ice from the water, and give your puppy just water in the bowl.

The Food Method

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Choose food

To begin, choose which type of food you will use. You can use either your puppy's own dog food or treats for this. Choose something that your puppy loves, that is small, and that will float in water. Most dry dog food and freeze dried treats will float.

2

Offer food

Place the food into a shallow bowl and cover it slightly with water. Offer the bowl of food and water to your puppy and encourage him to eat and drink it.

3

Increase water

When your puppy will eat and drink out of the bowl, then double the amount of water in the bowl.

4

Decrease food

When your puppy is comfortable drinking from the bowl with the food in it, then begin to gradually decrease the amount of food that is inside the bowl. Do this until your puppy will drink from the bowl without any food in it.

5

Fill bowl

When your puppy is comfortable drinking water from the water bowl, then increase the water, so that the bowl is as full as you would like for it to be.

By Caitlin Crittenden

Published: 03/05/2018, edited: 01/08/2021

Training Questions

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Training Questions and Answers

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Emmie

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Dachshund

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8 Weeks

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Reluctant to drink water

April 16, 2022

Emmie's Owner

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Caitlin Crittenden - Dog Trainer

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1133 Dog owners recommended

Hello Paul, I recommend visiting your vet. There are a number of medical issues that can be related to not drinking at this age. I would see your vet right away. I would also be curious to see how and when pup was weaned. If pup wasn't weaned appropriately, but might need to eat/drink Gruel for a while to help pup learn how to drink properly. Gruel is a mix of kibble and puppy milk replacement formula that good breeders use to help wean pup, having them eat that cereal looking dish of food and milk to practice their chewing and lapping of fluid before expecting them to eat dry kibble and drink water. If that was never done with pup, you might need to go back to feeding gruel for a couple weeks to help pup learn. A little unsalted garlic free low fat chicken broth can also be added to pup's water as long as you don't leave it sitting out too long, to encourage drinking temporarily. Finally, sometimes puppies are afraid of certain water bowls. If you are using something reflective, something pup's tag is clinking against, or something that makes bubbles - like those automatically refilling water bowls - like cats often use, pup might be afraid of it. Switch to something like food safe ceramic or glass or plastic, cover those dog tags with the little plastic tag covers you can get online or at many large pet stores, and once pup is drinking out of a different water bowl, then you can work on gradually getting pup used to the new kind by giving occasional liquid treats, like the chicken broth, in it, without expecting pup to drink out of it all the time at first. In most cases, this should be a vet visit though. Not drinking well is a sign of many common puppy ailments and needs to be checked out as soon as possible unless you know for sure pup is avoiding drinking due to something like a fear or their reflective bowl - in which case, go pick up a new bowl today. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

April 18, 2022

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Oscar

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lebrador retriever

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2 Months

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My puppy is biting us. And he is not active anytime to play and walk. He love to sleep for the whole time. He is not much active we try hard to tech him shake hand , pee or poop training but he doesn't cooperate with us. Please help how we teach him.

Aug. 4, 2021

Oscar's Owner

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Caitlin Crittenden - Dog Trainer

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1133 Dog owners recommended

Hello Vaishnavi, At two months of age a puppy will play for about 30-60 minutes at a time then sleep about an 1 before waking up to go potty and play again, around the clock. I would have lots of short frequent training sessions throughout the day with pup, where you train for just 10 minutes. At first pup won't understand what you are doing and how to focus. Reward even tiny movements toward what you are trying to get pup to do, to help pup understand what you are wanting and to motivate them to keep trying and not give up. If pup isn't awake enough for even ten minute sessions, and especially if pup isn't drinking water well either, since you responded to the water drinking article, then I highly suggest a trip to your vet. It sounds like something medical could be going on, and I wouldn't wait to address it, since lethargy and not drinking can be very serious symptoms of something wrong. I am not a vet, so consult your vet. Know that the biting is normal also for this age. Check out the article I have linked below on puppy biting: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bite Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

Aug. 4, 2021


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