Like us, dogs enjoy taking a swim. While it is tempting to let your pup “jump right in” to learn, there are best practices that you can follow to ensure that they don’t develop aversions to the water. When teaching your dog to navigate the water, try the following suggestions:
Choose the Right Setting and Temperature
When starting out, try to avoid areas where there’s a lot of debris and/or other wildlife. There is a creek less than a mile from my home, but there are plenty of groundhogs, squirrels, and other creatures in the area. While training has helped my pup not to chase, it still happens from time to time. Also, depending on the day, this particular creek contains litter and other objects – not ideal for a dog just starting to swim. Dogs who are experienced swimmers can navigate such waters without issue, but not when starting out. Also, make sure the water isn’t too cold – if they catch too much of a chill, it could make them reluctant to re-enter.
If you’re like me, you grew up believing that dogs are natural swimmers. According to the American Kennel Club, this is a MYTH! While some breeds can swim right away, it is better not to assume. Did you know that you can purchase a life jacket for your dog? It might seem unconventional, but it will give you peace of mind.
Entering and Exiting
Be sure to teach your pup how to enter and exit so they know where to go! If they get nervous or are unsure of how to proceed, knowing how to exit will put them at ease and help them avoid an aversion to swimming.
Aside from the obvious, there are hazards to be aware of. Firstly, when your pup is learning to swim, make sure that they don’t overdo it; exhaustion is dangerous, and overstimulation isn’t ideal. Also, make sure they are not drinking too much of the water!
Swimming is a great activity for dogs! Remember, start cautiously, pick the right setting, and keep an eye out for potential hazards. Lastly, don’t forget to have fun!
Here is a link to a useful American Kennel Club article on swimming: