Teaching a dog to swim may seem pretty challenging at first glance, if you’re not sure of what to do. If you take it step by step, however, you can make the learning process easier for both of you.
You may have never given serious thought to teaching a dog to swim. After all, dogs can swim naturally, can’t they? Nature seems to provide all the tools they need to get around in the water. Frogs and fish don’t have tiny paws that let them walk on land easily and birds don’t have webbed fingers but that doesn’t seem to matter when it comes to swimming. Dogs don’t seem like they’d be any different. However, teaching your dog to swim is critical for its safety. In this article, we’ll talk about the two categories of swimming dogs – the natural and the untrained. We’ll take a look at how you teach your dog to swim and what’s involved once you get them swimming naturally.
Teaching a dog to swim is an important skill for any dog owner.
There are many benefits to teaching your dog to swim, including increased safety when going on walks or hikes.
It’s also a great way for you and your dog to bond, as well as an opportunity for your dog to socialize with other dogs in the water.
Here are some tips for teaching your dog how to swim:
Start off slow! Start with shallow water, such as a kiddie pool or a bathtub filled with shallow water (about 1-2 feet deep). This way, if your dog gets scared or overwhelmed by the water, they won’t be able to drown because they’ll be able to stand up.
Once your dog seems comfortable in shallow water, move on up into deeper waters (3-4 feet). You can do this by slowly increasing the depth of their bathtub or kiddie pool over time as they get used to it.
Make sure that you supervise your dog at all times during this process so that if they do panic and try to run out of the water, they don’t hurt themselves on any nearby furniture or walls/doors etc…
Teaching a dog to swim is a great way to help your pet enjoy the water and stay safe. It’s also an essential skill for dogs that like to go for long walks along lakes, rivers, or beaches.
Start by taking your dog to a shallow pool or lake, where you can stand in the water with him. It’s important that he doesn’t get scared of the water! If he runs away from the water, just try again another day.
Once he’s comfortable standing in the water with you, start taking him deeper into the pool or lake. Make sure there are no waves or other hazards that could be dangerous to your dog if he falls off of your shoulders into the water!
When he seems comfortable standing in deeper water with you holding onto his collar, it’s time for more advanced training! Try throwing some treats into deeper areas of the pool/lake and encourage him to fetch them by pointing them out with a stick or other tool like that. Then reward him with praise and more treats when he brings them back to you
Teaching A Dog To Swim
Dogs have so many instinctual behaviors that you may wonder, “Can all dogs swim?” But while certain dogs gravitate to water or will swim if coaxed into a pool or lake, others may sink.
Still, just as you can teach a dog to sit or stay, you can usually teach a dog to swim. This step-by-step process will show you how.
How to Teach Your Dog to Swim in Four Steps
1. Make Sure Your Dog Has a Life Vest
Dogs new to swimming should wear canine life vests, as the buoyancy helps the dog feel more confident in the water. Swimming abilities aside, life vests are also important in case of an accident or other unforeseen circumstance, such as the dog falling off a dock or out of a boat. A good life vest:
- Fits snugly
- Has a handle for the owner to hold onto the dog
- Is brightly colored with reflective trim for visibility
While teaching your dog to swim, make sure to wear your own life vest. If your dog is a large breed, they could drag you underwater if they get frightened.
2. Choose a Quiet Spot for the First Swim Lesson
Many breeds can be easily taught to swim even if they are initially wary of the water. Regardless of breed, remember to go slowly and start in a quiet, controlled setting, like a backyard pool or kiddie pool. A bathtub can also be a good starting point for beginning swimmers.
3. Swim in Shallow Water
To start, tempt your dog into shallow water with a toy or ball. When they respond, reward them with a treat and positive reinforcement. Repeat this step until your dog seems comfortable and relaxed. If they are not easily tempted, pick them up and very gently place them in shallow water, watching for signs of panic or distress. Patience is key: If your dog seems truly frightened or uncomfortable in water, end the lesson and try again later.
4. Gradually Move to Deeper Water
Once your dog is comfortable with wet paws, move into deeper water. Hold your dog by the handle of their life vest until they get used to the sensation and all four of their legs begin paddling.
Be sure to show your dog how to leave whatever body of water you’re in. Gently sloping ramps are ideal; stairs will also work. If a ramp is too slippery, layer it with a kennel mat to provide traction. Repeat the entrance and exit steps, along with positive reinforcement, as often as necessary.
How to Keep Your Dog Safe While Swimming
Swimming can be more hazardous for your dog than you might realize. Before you start lessons to teach your dog how to swim, keep the following factors in mind:
As a good reference point, never let your dog swim in a body of water you would not be comfortable in.
Additionally, on cooler days make sure to dry your dog off as soon as possible. Otherwise dogs could succumb to hypothermia. Hyper, energetic puppies in particular are often more eager to jump into water than adult dogs — and can be more susceptible to hypothermia.
Likewise, small or toy breeds with fine hair or short-hair coats — such as papillons, Havanese, Maltese and Italian greyhounds — chill very quickly. These dogs can develop hypothermia and may violently shiver, thrash or panic in water. If your dog develops hypothermia, take them to a veterinarian right away.
If dogs swim for too long, they might swallow too much water, vomit, or, in rare cases, develop electrolyte abnormalities. Keep swimming sessions short, and play with small toys, like soft discs, to restrict the amount of water entering their mouths.
If you’re swimming in a pool, provide plenty of fresh drinking water so your dog will be less inclined to quench their thirst with chlorinated pool water. In a natural body of water, check the region before allowing dogs to enter; certain algae and aquatic creatures such as toads can be highly toxic. When swim time is over, give your dog a bath with a hydrating shampoo, as some swimming pool chemicals can dry out their skin.
Remember that dogs are just as susceptible to ocean currents as people. Throwing a ball far out into the waves while you stay on the beach could endanger your dog as they try to retrieve it.
Keep in mind that dogs have skin in addition to hair! Make sure to apply sunscreen designed just for pets, especially to hairless breeds, dogs with light coats and all dogs’ delicate pink noses.
What If My Dog Doesn’t Like to Swim?
Some dogs simply don’t enjoy being immersed in water and probably won’t learn to swim. Dogs that usually don’t like to swim include bulldogs, dachshunds and pugs, as well as breeds with short legs and heavy chests. Overweight and older dogs may struggle to stay afloat after a short amount of time in the water.
On hot days, your pup can still find ways to cool off, even if they don’t like the water. These include:
- Standing or laying down in an inch of water in a kiddie pool
- Licking ice cubes made from low-salt bone broth
- Drinking plenty of fresh, cold water
- Spending time in the shade or in front of a cooling fan
Teaching your dog to swim takes patience, time and encouragement, as well as a safe environment where they can acclimate to the water at their own pace. In the end, your dog may take to the water like a fish and enjoy swimming all summer long. But even if your dog isn’t suited to or particularly fond of water, there are still plenty of ways they can find relief from the hot summer sun.