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Splish Splash! Know how to Teach A Dog to Swim


15 min read

Dogs love playing whatever the game you are going to teach them! Catching a ball, a frisbee, hunting or water games. But don’t you think that we need to teach a dog to swim if he is going to spend some time near the water?

It’s safer to spend a day on near water and never worry about your dog around it, some of the games are going with the natural traits of a dog and others are just not.

Swimming is one of these things that a dog needs to have a boost to know its there within him.

a black dog in water-how to teach a dog to swim

Teaching your dog to swim is easy, all that you have to do is to hold your dog in the water until he/she starts to stroke steadily with developing a good form in the water, you will release your dog towards the shore and start walking there. Likely, he/she will follow you there.

You will have to repeat this until your dog is doing it perfectly on his own, and now, you know how to teach a dog to swim, go and have some fun time swimming with your dog pal!

How to Teach a Dog to Swim; The Right Age to Do It

The common question for any pet parent to teach his dog a new skill that the dog will need to acquire for doing a certain activity and swimming is no different.

a puppy swimming- how to teach a dog to swim

The answer is short and precisive;

The right time to teach a dog to swim is when he has got all the vaccinations he needs and then you can start the teaching process with him.

Almost all dog breeds can learn how to swim, but some dogs are easier to deal with them while teaching them to swim and other dogs may show signs of being uncomfortable with being in the water.

Some dog breeds have a natural reflex of starting to peddle in the water as soon as he feels his paws in it, so they don’t sink, others will have some difficulty to deal with the situation and may get a trauma if they got a bad experience with water.

Very progressive steps need to be taken so the dog won’t get traumatized from his experience with water, you need to make sure that all the elements around him are suitable for him to be at ease to learn to deal with water well.

To teach a dog to swim in a small limited place at first would be better from taking him straight to the beach or a lake, starting with a bathtub would be perfect.

how to Teach A Dog to Swim; Getting Used to Water

Typically, your dog’s only encounter with water will be in a bathtub while taking his bath, you can benefit from that in your training to get him used to water and be comfortable whenever he/she gets in any encounter with water.

The second step to do to safely introduce your dog to water is to prepare him well by doing these steps;

Start with Shallow and Warm Water

You will need to give your dog a positive attitude towards water, so starting with introducing your dog to very shallow water with suitable temperature, if you throw a dog into deep and cold water, typically, all that he will get is a bad experience with water that will make your mission harder.

Let your dog play with you on this shallow warm water to get him positive thoughts about it. You could play your favorite dog game or any other game, it could be simply running around or sniffing.

This will help you a lot when you introduce your pooch to deeper water, he will be more at ease as he already had fun with water at past times so why not now.

Train Your Dog to Come

You will need to make sure that your dog well listen to your commands even when you are in the water. Your dog won’t see any dangerous thing in his way because the water will hinder him from seeing anything.

You as a pet owner will be able to see and notice a lot of stuff that his/her dog won’t be able to see or even if he/she saw it, they may don’t see it as a threat in the first place, so a pet owner should make his buddy obey the commands under any circumstances.

Check How to Train A Dog to Come – Dog Training Basic Commands 101 to know how to train your dog to come. How to teach a dog to swim will need more than just the technique of swimming and obeying commands is one of them.

Make The Experience Fun

Let your dog gets very enthusiastic every time he gets near water by giving him so much fun with it. A water sprinkler or water hose in your backyard on a hot summer day and begin to play!

This will decrease your dog’s fear of water and will switch it to a very fun and positive experience that will make it more easy for you to get your dog to swim in a lake or have a nice time by the pool with you.

Get a Floating Device

A life vest for your dog would be great if you are worried about your dog’s safety, you will find a lot of flotation devices designed for dogs at the markets choose what you think is suitable for your dog’s weight.

Using these devices will help your dog to enjoy his time at deeper water without the fear of drowning. Get your dog into deeper water while wearing this vest so his face won’t get into the water.

Start to play with him while holding him and then gradually, get little by little away from him until he is enjoying his time without you holding him. Keep your eyes on him even with the device on him to make sure he is not having any problems.

Places You Can Teach A Dog to Swim In

There are a lot of places you could teach your dog to swim in, you don’t have to make your dog familiar with all the places of swimming just teach him to swim in the available place nearby.

You won’t need your dog to learn to swim in a pool if you are not having one or you don’t go much to spend a day on a pool, you could just let him have a good time at the bathtub and this if he loves water. Here are some of the places you can teach a dog to swim at;

Teach A Dog to Swim in a Lake

If you have a lake nearby, you could have some fun there with your family, your canine included! but you should know if you are going to teach your dog to swim at a lake you will need something to lure him into the water first.

It is just like any training, you want him to come and get in the water by making him willing to do it. You could get him a life vest or teach him the old way whatever you like, but always keep your eyes on him while he is in the water so he won’t go deep.

Teach A Dog to Swim in a Pool

You need to know that letting your dog swim in at a pool is different from swimming in a lake or the sea, both of them have shores that a dog can get in and out as he wants without any hindrance with the pool it is different.

You will need to have to teach your dog from where he will get in the pool and from where he will exit it.

Dogs are not like us, they can’t use the ladder or lift themselves from the water to get out of the pool, so you need to make sure that they have a place where they will get in and out of the pool easily.

Cement stairs or commercial ones you will find at the markets is a must if you will let your dog into the pool and you need to make sure that they are non-slippery stairs so your dog will be safe from falling or slipping.

Some dogs have a preference for the place they will have more joy and fun at. While some dogs have preferences and all, others don’t love anything that has to do with water activities.

There are some dog breeds that really love swimming and will learn to do it in no time, while there are many others that seem to not liking water for their own reasons.

Let’s know more about the breeds that love to swim and others that just don’t like to do it.

Dog Breeds That Love to Swim

There are dog breeds that just love to engage in water activities and have all the fun they can get when they are by a pool, lake or a beach, these dogs retrieved for water because of their ancestors being bred for that reason, so here are some of those breeds;

Newfoundland

Although Newfoundland breed is known to be a large breed, it is one of the breeds that love to swim, a lot of people will get fooled by its size and think that they won’t do well with water but they are wrong!

They came from the coast of Newfoundland where they were known to be a working breed, they worked among chores, used to transport items from ships to land and also, they were used to rescue swimmers, which they were the best at.

There were times Newfoundland dogs were demanded to become lifeguards along the British coasts because of how good they were.

Chesapeake Bay Retriever

This is another dog breed that has no problem to spend a lot of time in the water, in fact, Chesapeake Bay Retriever is known to have the ability to swim in ice-cold water with no problem.

“Chessies”, as many people call them, have this ability to swim or dive in very cold waters due to their coats, it is nearly a waterproof coat that is consists of two layers; the outer layer is wind-resistant and tough, while the inner coat is dense and waterproof, amazing isn’t it!

Portuguese Water Dog

It is obvious from its name that the Portuguese ‘Water’ Dog breed is one of the breeds that love to be in the water, in fact, this dog breed job was all about being in the water!

Portuguese water dog was used in Portugal to get any lost fishing equipment from the sea. This breed once found along the shores of Portugal’s coasts, they also used to work as a courier boat to boat couriers and boat to shore couriers as well.

Labrador Retriever

Labrador retriever, America’s sweetheart, is known to be one of the best dog breeds swimmers, this is thought to be true as Labrador Retriever breed is a breed that was the result of mating Newfoundland and Labrador.

Golden Retriever

Golden Retriever is another dog in our list that loves to swim, the breed was originated to be a hunting companion for regaining waterfowl. So, those are some of the dogs that would love to participate in any water activity, now with the list of dogs who do the total opposite.

Dogs Breeds That Don’t Love to Swim

In order to start the process of how to teach a dog to swim, you will first need to know whether your dog’s breed is likely to love going into the water or you will find some difficulties with your dog or not. Here is a list of some dogs that don’t like to have contact with water;

Pug

Pugs are from the dog breeds that don’t love to swim. Actually, they have good reasons for that; Pugs have flattened snouts which give them many problems while they are breathing.

The problem starts from the narrow nasal paths, with the soft palate pugs have, also, their windpipe is narrow. This along with many other abnormalities found on the anatomy of a pug it makes it hard for them to get into water activities and enjoy them.

That doesn’t mean all Pugs hate to swim, actually, some adores water, but mostly, pugs will panic if they got engaged in water activities like swimming.

Dachshund

Dachshund is another dog that is not so fond of water. With a long body and tiny legs, Dachshunds would find swimming and stay afloat quite hard, that doesn’t mean they can’t learn to swim, but they won’t feel comfortable during the process of learning.

Pet owners that have got a dachshund should consider introducing water to their dogs gradually and never put them in an experience that they have to deal with deep water right away.

Greyhound

Greyhounds are known for their exceptional running skills, those skinny, lanky legs are great on land, but when they are tested in water some of them(Greyhounds) would find it hard to swim.

Chinese Crested Dog

The problem that a Chinese Crested would have a different problem with getting into the water, due to nearly having no hair covering its body, a Chinese Crested would feel cold in no time.

As anyone would get colder with the longer time they will spend on the water.

A thing to keep in mind is that dogs’ body temperature is higher than humans, so if we think the lake water or pool water to be warm, our dogs may find it a little colder than what we think.

Considering the water temperature for our dogs is crucial so they don’t get cold or anything. So, this is it with the list of our dogs that love and don’t love water.

Mistakes to Avoid While Teaching a Dog to Swim

Here are some mistakes you should know so you can avoid while teaching your dog to swim;

Getting Emotionally embedded

If your dog has a “retriever” or “water dog” on their name this will give you the impression that he should be a great swimmer and the minute you are going to get him into the water he will know his way directly.

In fact, this doesn’t happen with each and every dog, individual differences would make you put the good reputation of the dog’s breed aside and focusing more on making him a real good swimmer.

Our dogs can feel our frustration and disappointment from them, and this will only add pressure on them and will make things become worse in the matter of their training, that not only it, but it will also make the dog more uncomfortable with getting into the water.

Expecting Results Too Soon

Who doesn’t want their canines to learn anything in no time? almost everyone wants that, but unfortunately, things don’t go that way.

Some dog owners would expect their canines to master swimming from the first or the second trial, but that’s just don’t happen with every dog.

Giving your dog enough time to get comfortable with water, playing, paddling and wading is a good start at the shore before asking your dog to swim.

Staying Off Water and Asking The Dog to Do The Opposite

You shouldn’t ask your dog to get into the water when you are standing on the shore or off the pool and expect him to get it.

Your dog will wonder if it is a good idea to get into the water and be far away from you which will make him reluctant to get there alone. If you plan to teach a dog to swim you will need to engage in the action too!

 Scolding and Pushing Your Dog

Yelling, scolding, or screaming on your dog if he doesn’t want to swim will make everything worse, you will make your dog have another hinder to get afraid of getting into the water.

You could make it worse if you tried to apply a dirty trick on them by throwing, shoving or dragging them to water. If you did any of that you are probably making your dog getting water phobia, so never try any of these techniques with your dog as it won’t make any good to the dog or the training.

Now, after knowing the answer to the question ‘how to teach a dog to swim’ and other questions, let’s get to answer another one!

Can Dogs Swim Underwater?

So, if we can teach a dog to swim, is it applicable to teach them to get underwater?

The answer to this question is Yes! Dogs can swim underwater too, and, in fact, it is an easy and straightforward task that you can teach your dog.

You will need to teach a dog to swim first and after is comfortable with it completely, then you could start with the diving underwater.

You will need a water toy to do such training, getting your dog attached to it and then you will start with the training. Get into the water with the toy and lure your pooch to come after you.

After that, start to make your dog excited to catch the toy in the shallow end first and every time your dog catches the toy give him a big fat treat so he will always work to retrieve the toy every time you play with him with it( do this for the first sessions only).

Now, start with getting the toy a little deeper, get the toy under the surface but still visible to the dog when he tries to get it, lower it more into the water for few seconds and then let him catch it so he won’t lose interest in it.

Get the toy deeper and deeper and let the dog try to have it until he starts to dive and get it. Repeat this until your dog gets the idea of getting underwater and keep training him to get to mastery level.

So, this is it with today’s article, hope you got a lot of useful information that you could use, you could also check Grooming Your Dog: The Cons You Should Dodge Out of Your Routine if you plan to give your dog a grooming session after swimming with your dog, he/she will be exhausted, take advantage of that!

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