Are Pit Bulls Afraid of Water

When we first got Fiona she really hated water. She would shake uncontrollably while she was in a bathtub, so I had to spend some time doing research.

Are pit bulls afraid of water? Some dogs are more anxious than others. You should test your pit bull in a controlled environment. If the dog exhibits any fear, then training and patience can help your pet overcome their fear of water. Lots of positive training can overcome most issues your dog will have with water.

If you want to learn more about how to overcome a pit bulls fear of water or just taking bath then keep reading. I will give you tactics to help your dog overcome their water fear.

Helping understand why pit bulls have a fear of water

Dog Looking At Water
if only I could swim

Regardless of the breed, some dogs are just naturally more scared of water than other dogs. Just like every dog’s personality is different, some dogs are fearless in water while others panic.

If you are a family or person who loves water it’s hard to have a dog that hates water. Good news is getting your dog to like water can happen with a lot of patience and some time.

Many dogs can have unresolved fears that happen at birth or long before you ever have them. These fears establish their roots early in a dog’s development during the very early years.

The best way to understand your fur pal’s problem is to first test what level of fear they have. Try an outside baby pool that you can buy from a store cheap. Determine what their reaction to water is to find their baseline.

Once you have a baseline, you can figure out a dog’s fear level much like a pain level. Do they just shake? Do they run away in terror, tail tucked between legs, or do they tank the water like a champ?

Now that you have developed a baseline, let’s talk tactics.

Things you should avoid with pit bulls who hate water

Pitbull With Sun Glasses

Before we talk about how to solve their water fears, let’s talk about the simple things that can trigger a dog to have a fear response. By avoiding these things, you can stop your dog from fearing water and speed up the training process.

Here is a simple list of things to never do:

  • Don’t shout or yell at the dog
  • Do not force them into deep water or any water when they are scared
  • Do not continue if the dog becomes focused on fear or trying to escape
  • Do not train in a place that isn’t a controlled environment 
  • Do not have other dogs around your dog while training

While many of these things might seem basic, let’s go over them one by one to understand why you don’t want to do them.

Do not shout: Dogs feed off your energy and that energy will make them more anxious, which creates a vicious cycle when you are frustrated.

Do not force them into water: When a dog is scared of something forcing them to do the thing they don’t want to do only adds to the resistance while training them.

Do not continue if your dog is trying to escape: If your dog is focused only on escaping, it becomes near impossible to train them. Pretending someone was trying to train you while you were jumping out of a plane, wouldn’t be focused on the training.

Do not train in a place that isn’t controlled: Not having control of your environment is a big problem when you have an animal that isn’t ready to do what you want. It leads to unpredictable results that can end badly.

Do not have other dogs around: While some other dogs can have a calming effect a dog that is scared, they can also have the opposite effect.

So now that you know what not to do let’s talk about what you should do.

How to help your pit bull with a bath

Before we dive into the deep end, it’s important to start small and work your way up. A dog who fears a bathtub is probably not going to go swimming first. Sometimes it can happen, but rarely.

The first step is to have some things on hand ready before you drop your dog in the water. The first step is to prepare, this can take days. With Fiona we would take her into the bathtub with no water and feed her treats while she was calm.

Whenever she gets used to the bathtub and realizes that it is not the devil, you can introduce things like cups, shampoo, toys or anything else you want to use. Finally, when the dog is now ready for the first step, turn on the water and then gauge the dog’s interest.

Continue positive reinforcement with the dog until you can turn the water on and leave it on. Once you have hit this point, you can introduce water that’s up to the ankles of your dog just to get them use to it. Splash them a bit and see how they react.

Fiona took many weeks before we could fully bath her using water that was much higher than her ankles. Even today she doesn’t care for water, but she no longer shakes and positive reinforcement with lots of treats helps a dog get use to the process.

If you keep this up, you are well on your way to having a dog that will allow you to groom your dog or someone else.

Teaching your pit bull to swim

Pitbull Drinking Water

Now that your dog isn’t scared of the bath any more, teaching them to swim is a big part of moving them from fear into really enjoying water.

One thing to remember is the rules up above, keep control of the situation. Try to find an area that you can control rather than allowing the dog to swim somewhere dangerous.

A pool or small pond makes for an easier method of controlling where your dog can go and where they can’t go.

There are also some basic rules with swimming. Follow these when you first start with your dog:

  • Introduce them slowly, don’t speed up the process
  • Use swallow water to your advantage
  • Stay relaxed while they are swimming or learning
  • Make sure your dog can leave or has a way to escape
  • Invest in a doggie life jacket to help them float

Once again most of these rules are basic, but they can help your pit bull overcome any fear of water that they may have.

Related Questions

Do pit bulls like to swim? Pit bulls love physical activities and swimming can really help them burn off energy because they are such powerful dogs.

My pit bull isn’t learning quick? At some point you may have to seek a professional to help with overcoming their fear of water. Then again, your pittie may never swim just because it isn’t something they like.


I hope this article has given you enough tips to help you understand how to help your pit bull take a bath or swim in a pool. It really is a process that takes a lot of time for both the owner and the pit bull.

If you want more pit bull articles or this article helped you, please check out our website.

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