Teaching Your Dog To Swim

If you go to a popular doggy swim area you are sure to see loads of happy dogs enjoying a good splash in the water. This is because lots of dogs absolutely love water and many are very strong swimmers. However not all dog breeds are confident swimmers, but if you can get your dog to swim he will benefit from lots of exercise. It is said that a five minute swim can be the equivalent of taking your dog on a five mile walk, but don’t bother trying to get a Bulldog to swim - his small legs won’t keep him afloat and he won’t survive long as a submarine.


Two Black Labradors both retrieving the same frizbee whilst swimming
Two Black Labradors both retrieving the same frizbee whilst swimming

If you think that your dog might be unfit or becoming overweight it is a good idea to consider teaching your dog to swim. It is an effective way of increasing your dog’s strength and flexibility, whilst lowering his body fat at the same time. Always bring a towel with you to dry off your pup before taking him home. It can also be a good idea to rinse your dog off with fresh water after he has had a swim to get rid of any chemicals or algae.


A Husky swimming in a nice clean swimming pool
A Husky swimming in a nice clean swimming pool

Where Can I Teach My Dog To Swim?

Most importantly, make sure the water is clean. Some waters like canals, lakes and reservoirs contain infectious diseases like Leptospirosis, so choose a spot that you know is hygienic. If you know a place where other dogs regularly swim it might be the best place to start out with your dog.


Throwing a tennis ball for a dog to encourage him to swim further
Throwing a tennis ball for a dog to encourage him to swim further

So you want your dog to be a fit and stronger swimmer but the idea of stinky reservoir water being trodden into your carpets is too much to bare. Luckily for you there is a non-muddy option. At special dog pools you can enrol your canine friend in swim lessons. Doggy swim classes come with a price tag but do offer a great way to get all the benefits of swimming without the mud. Here your dog can build up the confidence to swim with help of buoyancy aids, whilst playing with his favourite toys to make the experience enjoyable. If your dog struggles to stay afloat a swimming instructor is always there to assist in the water.


How To Teach Your Dog To Swim

When teaching your dog to swim, confidence is key, so it is important that you start off slow. Allow your dog to become comfortable with getting wet by walking him into the water on the lead. You might have to persuade him with a couple of treats or his favourite toy, but make sure that you reassure you pup with a positive voice and lots of praise. After a few minutes you can start to venture into deeper water so that he has to begin paddling to stay afloat.


A Labrador learning to swim in a swimming pool
A Labrador learning to swim in a swimming pool

At this point might need to support his tummy with one hand if you notice him sinking. If your dog starts to panic, bring him into the shallow water so that he can calm down and regain his confidence, and then try again. Treat your dog when he gets out and shakes himself off so that he can relate swimming to a positive experience. Soon he’ll begin to love it.



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