Ever wonder how to teach your dog to swim?
As long as your dog is physically capable of swimming, training them to do it is easier than you might think!
Today, we’ll talk a bit about which breeds can and can’t swim.
Then, I’ll give you the exact steps you need to follow to help your dog learn!
Plus, find out the one thing you should never, ever do.
Let’s get started!
How to teach your dog to swim
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I’m going to start by saying what you shouldn’t do. And that is to throw the dog unprepared in the water.
Do not even think about it!
You might traumatize poor Daisy so much that she would never go near a pool or a lake ever again.
Instead, follow these 7 steps and tips to teach your dog to swim the right way!
#1 Know your dog’s breed limitations
Most of you probably think that dogs are natural swimmers. While it’s true that some dogs jump right into the water with pleasure, others are terrible swimmers.
For example, Pugs and Bulldogs can’t swim at all.
They struggle in the water because they have large, heavy chests and short muzzles. As a result, they have to make extra efforts to keep their muzzle out of the water.
Moreover, their short legs are also not meant for paddling, and they can drown in a kid’s pool before you realize that something is wrong.
On the other hand, small dogs like the Shih Tzu can easily catch a chill in the water. Not to mention that their coat gets water-logged and might drag him down.
- Basset Hound due to their floppy ears (which are prone to waterborne infections)
- Chow Chow
Experts say that you shouldn’t allow these breeds near water without a flotation device or a life vest. I’ll only add that you must secure your pool to avoid accidents.
#2 Purchase a life vest
If you haven’t done it already, buy a dog life vest, preferably one with handles so that you can control your dog in the water.
Then get Daisy comfortable wearing the vest before the first swimming lesson.
It’s easy. Put the vest on Daisy before dinner so that she connects it with positive things like food. You might also encourage her to wear it by bribing her with treats.
#3 Pick a place
For the first few swimming lessons, pick a quiet spot. Too much noise and too many people would distract and scare your pooch and might make the whole experience too frightening.
If you have a pool, that’s great. If you don’t, you might go to a lake or a river as long as you keep to the shallows.
Avoid spots where the water is fast flowing, muddy, or it has a lot of plants that could tangle in your dog’s fur.
#4 Pack the gear
You’ll have to be in the water with your dog, so pack your swimming gear along with:
#5 Start slow
Once you get to your destination, put the life vest on your dog. Do not let Daisy off the leash because you won’t be able to pull her out if something goes wrong.
Then walk around in the shallow and let Daisy follow you. You want her to get used to the water and gain confidence.
Daisy might be reluctant to follow suit, and that’s perfectly fine.
Do not pull her forward but try to encourage her to wet her paws. You might throw her favorite toy in the water or bribe her with treats.
Once Daisy steps into the water, let her explore on her own. Remember to praise and reward her throughout the whole experience.
#6 Wade in the deep
When you deem that your dog is comfortable being in the water, it’s time to take the next step.
For this step, it’s better to practice in an enclosed area, for example – a pool. Otherwise, you’ll have to keep a firm grasp on the leash.
Pick up the dog and head into the water until it’s up to your waist. Then hold Daisy with one hand under the belly and place her in the water.
Daisy might be anxious when she can’t feel the floor of the pool/lake under her feet. However, she should start paddling with her front paws very soon.
You can encourage her to use her hind legs by lifting her back end slightly or tickling her paws.
Once you’re certain that the dog is paddling with her front paws and kicking with the hind ones, you can remove your hand.
Let Daisy swim around for a while and observe her for signs of tiredness. Remember to reward her verbally and with treats.
#7 Wrap up the lesson
Swimming lessons shouldn’t be long because your dog will get exhausted quickly in the beginning.
So, once you see that your pooch is getting too tired, stop the lesson. Stroll towards the shore or the pool’s exit and make sure the dog is following you.
If you take your dog to the beach, remember to check the paws for debris when you go home. Also, wash Daisy with fresh water when you swim in chlorinated or salt water.
And that’s how you teach a dog to swim. To be honest, some dogs get it fairly quickly, and then, you can’t get them out of the water. But if your pooch is reluctant or afraid, do not force her.