How to Teach Your Dog to Swim
Swimming with your dog can be a fun activity and provide lots of entertainment and much-needed activity. It is also a way to protect your dog from the dangers of water and drowning. Read below to learn how to introduce your dog to swimming
Why Teach Your Dog to Swim
Swimming can be a fun activity for your dog to engage in and also provide good aerobic activity for your dog, especially those with arthritis or overweight. But just like humans, an untrained dog can down in the water. It is estimated that 10,000 dogs drown each year in water. Many of these deaths could have been avoided if the dog had been taught to swim
Gauge the Desire
It’s first important to learn if your dog has the desire to swim. Many dogs love to swim and take right to the water while others do not. Retrievers and Spaniels are known as swimming dogs, but not ALL of them want to swim. Dogs with short necks and large chests like Bulldogs have a hard time swimming because it’s difficult for them to keep their head above water.
Take some time to judge whether your dog has the desire or is interested in water and swimming.
Tips & Tricks
Start Young – If you can start your training with a young puppy. I know this may not be possible for many, but if you do have a puppy at home, this is a great time to start. Puppies love to learn and take quickly to new activities. An older dog may resist and take longer to learn.
Begin in smaller pools. A dog that is new to swimming can become overwhelmed with a large body of water. Let them first get comfortable with a smaller pool or tub of water before you take them to a large pool, lake, etc.
Know the Exits – When you introduce your dog into any new body of water and especially while training. It’s important to first show them where the exits are and how to easily get out of the water. If you have access to water a gradual slope into the water that is ideal.
Stay Connected – Keep your dog close with a leash or longer lead when swimming in open water. This will allow you to quickly pull your dog into shore or to the edge of the pool should he begin to have problems.
Life Jacket – If you unsure about your dog's ability or safety in the water consider using a dog life jacket. This will add substantial buoyancy to your pup and all him to float even if he stop paddling. This can add some piece of mind when teaching your dog to swim or when you know he’ll be in the water for a long period.
Don’t go too Deep – You’ll want to stay in water that in no higher than your shoulders. This will allow you to support your dog if needed and move around quickly. It will also protect you if your dog becomes frightened and trying to climb on top of you.
Take Brakes – Just as you get tired quickly in water, so does your dog. Make sure you are taking frequent breaks so that your dog does not get too tired and continues to have a good time.
Rinse-Off – when you are finished make sure to rinse your dog off. This is especially important if you are swimming in a chlorinated pool. If left on the skin, the chlorine can irritate your dog's coat and skin.
The First Day
When approaching the water with your pet, walk-in slowly with them. Spend some time in the shallows before going deeper. Take some treats with you to help encourage them to come along with you as you go deeper into the water. If your dog needs further encouragement, walk out deeper, and encourage them to come to you with the treat or a toy. If they like playing fetch you could toss the toy into the water (not too far initially). As your dog ventures out beyond the point of touching the ground and begins to swim, support them under the belly and they begin to swim until they get comfortable. Soon your dog will be swimming and enjoying the water with you.
Remember to take it slow, and most of all have fun with your dog. Some will take to it quickly; others need more time. Move at their pace and enjoy your time together.
- Aug 10, 2019
- in Pet Blog