Teach Your Dog to Swim

by Pool Builders on 11-22-2005 in Articles

Dogs who swim regularly are stronger, fitter and have less chance of developing cardiovascular disease. But although pooches are born with the natural ability to 'doggy paddle', staying horizontal in the water can be challenging and introducing your canine friend to water is a significant step in their life.

Getting started
Choose a warm pleasant day for your dog's first swimming lesson. Recruit a helper who your dog is familiar with and visit a beach or river that's not too intimidating. Avoid large crashing waves, noisy jet skis, and areas where there's lots of shouting and splashing.

If you're teaching a pup to swim, you may find that they are eager to enter the water at once. Young pups haven't learned to fear water and swimming will appear to be another fun trick to be discovered. Older dogs may appear to be frightened or reluctant to enter the water, but don't mistake this for a dislike of swimming. Your dog needs to experience swimming in a safe and controlled environment in order to gain confidence and feel comfortable around water.

The swimming lesson
Carry your puppy or dog several metres out into knee or waist-deep water. Place one hand under your dog's belly and hold the rear end up by gently holding her tail so that she is level in the water. Face toward your helper on the shore and immerse the dog's torso in the water. You'll notice its feet start to move as soon as they touch the surface. When it's paddling vigorously, remove your hand from under the belly and briefly hold the rear end up by the tail to keep the animal level.

Your helper should be clapping and offering words of encouragement as you let go of your dog's tail and watch it swim directly to the shore.

Similarly, you can also teach your dog to swim in a pool -- if you are prepared to clean the dog hairs out of the filter that is! First, allow your dog to get comfortable in the pool environment with you and show them the pool steps. Then, holding the dog, take a few paces back from the edge and immerse it while supporting its belly and lightly holding the tail, and let it swim back to the steps. Repeat this exercise several times.

Canine swimming instructors are another excellent way to introduce your dog to water. Take along another dog, ideally a friend of your dog who's already confident in the water, and you will find your pooch eager to imitate its friend.

Under no circumstances should you toss a dog into a pool or over the edge of a boat. Your dog will panic and you will have difficulty getting them near water again.

Water safety
Many dogs love to fetch sticks and other buoyant objects from the water but be aware that just like us, they are susceptible to cramping or tiring. Puppies, elderly dogs, and smaller breeds will tire easily so be sure not to let them overexert themselves, especially if exercising with a fitter, more able dog.

Teach your dog to swim and both you and your canine companion will enjoy hours frolicking in the water, not to mention first-rate socialising opportunities!

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