Swimming is an excellent way to cool your dog on a hot day. It is great exercise but more important it is FUN! But if your dog does not normally like the water, it can be a very stressful experience for them. As with any interaction with your dog, teaching a dog to swim relates to communication and training.
You want to ensure that your dog has a pleasant experience with water. If your dog seems stressed by nearby dogs or excessive distractions, it may be beneficial to do first introductions in a quiet environment. When you introduce a young pup or an older dog to the water, there are two things that you want to take care of first:
- Find a pond or calm lake with a small gradual entry structure.
- Remember to make sure the water is warm.
- If it is possible, go in the water with them.
- Motivate your dog (troll a toy, have them chase another dog, etc. )
As they begin to become more comfortable in water there are some tools that can be helpful. A dog rescue vest helps if the dog panics or kicks his front legs, and they usually have a handle on the back so you can help stabilize the dog. A long rope will help the dog to reach and out of the water and prevent them from trying to escape from the training session. You can use basic obedience commands like come or here to guide the dog and provide important information to them.
At the same time, there are several things you should avoid when you try to get your dog into the water.
- Garnish your dog and see what happens not in the water.
- Don’t force too quickly or push too much
- Don’t expect them to jump off a ledge or dock at the beginning to begin with.
Do not expect your dog to immediately swim. It may be an enjoyable endeavor to keep the dogs feet in the water and have the water reach up to their chest in the beginning, the rest will come with time.