It is important to remember that not all dogs instinctively know how to swim and some are actually scared of or don’t like the water. Here are a few tips to help teach your dog how to swim, enjoy the water and most importantly to stay safe.
Tips to teach your dog to swim
- Introduce your dog to water when they are young. The earlier you get them comfortable with the water the better.
- Never force or pull your dog into the water, this is likely to scare them more. You can coax them by using their favourite toy or calling them in.
- Always keep them in close reach, especially when starting. When they are initially learning keeping them on a lead at first is the safest.
- Start with a small amount of shallow water. A wading pool or clam shell is a good starting point. Then you can gradually increase the water depth as the dog becomes more confident.
- Starting in a creek, dam, calm water beach or somewhere they are able to walk into the water can be less daunting than a swimming pool as they know they can touch the bottom.
- If swimming in a pool, ensure that your dog can safely get out. Sometimes a ramp like the Skamper Ramp are helpful and easier to use than stairs.
- Take your time teaching them to swim, doing it over several days if they are hesitant.
- The swimming action of paddling the feet generally comes naturally when a dog is in the water and can’t touch the bottom. Many dogs just need practice to perfect the motion. If they need help learning this you can hold the dog around their middle and balance on them against your body while gently moving their legs in a paddling movement.
- Remember, safety first when it comes to letting your dog swim. Always supervise them, never let them swim alone. Ensure that they are close enough to hear you and that you can reach them if needed. Make sure the water is safe, clean, free of debris and not in an area with a strong current. The vet-n-pet DIRECT Help Centre has a great article on Water Safety Tips For Dogs to remind everyone how to keep your dog safe around water.
- And remember, have fun!!
Until next time,