Should dog crates have water?

Do dogs need to have water at all times in their crates? Let’s take a look at how to overcome the ‘spillage’ issue, whether it makes a difference with housebreaking and what your local welfare laws say. TLDR: Should dog crates have water? Yes, fresh drinking water should be provided at all times in a clean bowl.

water bowl

Welfare Regulations

United States

In the United States, the federal Animal Welfare Act requires that dogs have access to fresh, clean water at all times. This means that dogs must have access to water even when they are being transported or held in commercial breeding, transport, or exhibition facilities.

Changes were made to the Animal Welfare Act in the United States in May 2020 and they came into force on November 9th 2020. The changes were as follows;

Section §3.10 of the new AWA regulations outlines the watering requirements for dogs and cats. Under the new requirements, dogs must have continuous access to potable water at all times. As a reminder, all water receptacles for dogs and cats must be kept clean and sanitized and meet the cleaning standards listed under section §3.11(b).

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Prior to these changes, water was to be offered under a certain time schedule depending on the animal’s age, i.e once every 12 hours for adult dogs as a minimum.


In the United Kingdom, the Animal Welfare Act 2006 requires that dog owners provide their dogs with a suitable diet and environment. This includes providing dogs with access to fresh, clean water at all times.

The Animal Welfare Act 2006 does not specifically mention water in the definition of “suitable environment”, but it is widely accepted that access to water is a fundamental requirement for any animal.

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In Australia, the Animal Welfare Act 1992, section 6B, requires that dog owners provide their dogs with adequate food and water. This means that dogs must have access to fresh, clean water at all times.

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In addition to these general laws and regulations, there are also some specific laws and regulations in place in some countries to ensure that dogs have access to water in public places. For example, in some states in the United States, it is required that restaurants and businesses provide water bowls for dogs. In the United Kingdom, it is required that all dog-friendly establishments provide water for dogs.

merle puppy

Housebreaking a puppy

As we can see from welfare regulations around the world, withholding water from any animal is likely to leave you open to prosecution for animal cruelty in most Western countries.

Withholding water from a puppy is not a recommended or effective method for making housebreaking easier. In fact, it can have detrimental effects on both the puppy’s well-being and the housebreaking process.

  1. Health Implications:
    • Dehydration: Puppies, like all animals, need an adequate supply of water for proper hydration. Withholding water can lead to dehydration, which can have serious health consequences, including kidney problems, urinary tract issues, and overall discomfort for the puppy.
    • Developmental Issues: Puppies are in a crucial stage of growth and development, and restricting water intake can negatively impact their overall health and development. Proper hydration is essential for the development of organs, tissues, and overall well-being.
  2. Ineffective for Housebreaking:
    • Increased Stress: Depriving a puppy of water can cause stress and anxiety. A stressed puppy may find it harder to learn and may exhibit undesirable behaviors, making the housebreaking process more challenging.
    • Inconsistent with Positive Reinforcement: Effective housebreaking relies on positive reinforcement and establishing a routine. Withholding water does not contribute to positive reinforcement and can lead to fear or confusion in the puppy, hindering the learning process.
    • Unreliable Timing: Puppies have varying metabolic rates, and their water needs can differ. Withholding water does not account for these individual differences, making it an unreliable and potentially harmful strategy.
  3. Potential for Behavior Issues:
    • Increased Frustration: A puppy denied access to water may become frustrated, leading to an increased likelihood of behavioral issues such as chewing, digging, or excessive barking.
    • Negative Association with Training: Housebreaking is most effective when associated with positive experiences. Withholding water creates a negative association with the training process, potentially making the puppy resistant to future training efforts.

In conclusion, withholding water from a puppy is not a humane or effective method for housebreaking. It can have serious health implications and may contribute to behavioral problems. Positive reinforcement, consistency, and patience are key components of successful housebreaking, ensuring a healthy and happy environment for the puppy.


This is the easiest issue to solve. Non-spill bowls are available if you have adequate floor space in the dog crate (and great for travelling too!), or clip-on water bowls can be attached to the wire or plastic crates.

If you find your puppy is dropping toys in their bowls, or getting themselves wet, then try the clip-on dog bowls as you can raise them off the floor and reduce the chance of anything else getting wet.

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All articles on are written by qualified behaviorist and dog trainer, Cheryl Walker.


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