Tips and Pointers For Introducing Your Dog to the Joys of Water and Swimming

by Pool Builders on 08-14-2011 in Articles

Some dogs are just born swimmers: you take him to a lake and he dives right in and starts chasing ducks, or he jumps headfirst into the pool to play with the kids. Some dogs have to be taught to swim, and some can't even dog paddle; However, teaching your dog to swim is a simple process that only require practice and patience. Certain breeds of dogs take more readily to the water, these are breeds such a poodles, retrievers, water spaniels, and setters. Other breeds of dogs, such as pugs, bulldogs, Boston terriers, and daschshunds will not take to the water quite as readily.

First, make sure you pick the right place. A loud, crazy pool is not a good idea for a first swimming lesson. The dog will be paying more attention to the crowd than learning. Also pick a place where you can enter the water yourself- a dog will be much more comfortable if you enter the water with him at first.

Use a leash or long line while your dog is in the water. This allows you to remain in control and react if your dog begins to sink, becomes too exhausted, or starts getting too far away.

Never throw your dog into the water and never force him to get in. Place his paws in the water on the steps to let him get used to it. Always teach your dog to enter and exit using the steps. This also allows them a "safe place" to retreat if they get scared or if they get too tired.

If you or a friend has a dog who already knows how to swim, consider allowing them to swim together. One dog doing well at swimming will typically encourage the other to try.

Encourage your dog verbally, and with treats and toys when he's in the water. Even if he doesn't swim during his first session, he will associate water as being a good thing in the future because he's praised and given treats while in water. Eventually your dog should begin to paddle. If he doesn't use his rear legs, you may need to move them for him once or twice to show him how to do it.

If you dog still sinks, as may be the case for many short-legged dogs, you may want to consider getting a life vest for him. Life vests can be purchased at most pet stores or online retailers, and come in different sizes that can be adjusted to fit your dog. When first using a life vest, make sure to support his weight. He may panic if he feels like he's sinking.

Also consider getting sunscreen for your dog. Dogs CAN get sunburn, especially around their eyelids, ears, and nose. Light colored dogs who have been shaved recently are especially high risk for sunburn.

Rinse your dog off after he's been swimming. This will help remove bacteria, chlorine, and other chemicals that can irritate your dog.

Always watch your dog when swimming, especially in large bodies of water. A dog that can swim well may get overconfident and may keep swimming until he's lost or stuck.

Always end any training sessions on a positive note, and remember that safety comes first.

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