Teaching Your Dog to Swim

It’s summertime. Families are taking vacations, the weather is sunny and warm, and there’s nothing better than a dip in the pool, lake or ocean. Your dog might even enjoy swimming as much as your family does!

Many people believe swimming is a skill that comes naturally to dogs, but the fact is that most dogs need to be gradually introduced to water. Here are some tips for familiarizing your dog to water:

Know Your Dog

Some breeds, like Retrievers, Setters and Spaniels naturally take to water and enjoy swimming. Some breeds, such as Pugs or Bulldogs, should always be supervised around water. They are not the best swimmers, have trouble breathing and can drown easily. Some dogs do not like swimming and should not be forced to go in the water if they are afraid of it.

Start Small

Fill a kiddie pool with enough water to reach the first joint on your dog’s front leg, and encourage him by tossing a toy in or getting in yourself. As your dog gets used to the water, you can work your way up to a larger pool, a lake and then even the ocean. Remember, “sink or swim” is not a fun game for children or dogs, so you should never just throw your dog in the pool.

Wear a Life Vest
Just like children start with swimmies, a life vest may boost your dog’s confidence as well as keep him safe. Some breeds that aren’t good swimmers may have to wear a life vest forever, while others only wear it when in deep water.

Get Wet
Dogs are very people-oriented , so if he sees your family in the water having fun, he’s more likely to do the same. Plus, your dog may need you by his side for encouragement when he goes in the water the first few times.

Follow the Leader
If your family or a friend has another dog that already knows how to swim, bring him along for the swimming lesson. This will boost your dog’s confidence, and chances are he’ll learn by the other dog’s example.

Have Fun!
Praise your dog with lots of love, attention and toys. The more fun you make the experience, the better the chances your dog will want to do it again. Plus, swimming is a fun activity for the whole family!

Follow these tips, and your dog family will have tons of water-filled fun, and your four-legged family member will love being included in family outings to the beach or pool.

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