Teaching Your Dog to Swim

By admin Posted in Bonding, Problems /

Teaching Your Dog to Swim

Teaching your dog to swim is a great idea, not only for its enjoyment and exercise but also for safety. Just like people, pets can drown in the sea, lakes and pools. When playing near a pool it can accidently get knocked into the water or become tired quickly while swimming.

Not all dogs can swim and some are afraid of water so great care must be taken to carefully introduce a dog to the water and  be very sure he knows how to get out when he has had enough.  Most dogs cannot climb out the side of a pool or make use of a ladder.

Among the dogs that swim naturally and gladly are water spaniels, setters, retrievers, akitas and poodles amongst others. Other breeds are not as water-friendly and have to be taught to swim, in some cases with great difficulty. Heavy dogs with short legs are not built for swimming. Having a short or no tail makes it more difficult to stay afloat.

Dogs with flat noses have a hard time breathing in water. Breeds that do not swim include: Basset Hounds, Bulldogs, Corgis, Dachshunds, Greyhounds, Pugs, Scottish and Boston Terriers. Without the bright orange canine flotation devices, found in pet shops, they will drown.

Other dogs like the Maltese, which are capable swimmers, but are susceptible to rheumatism, arthritis and chills that can be worsened if taken swimming should perhaps not be encouraged if they do not want to swim.

Taking a puppy to the beach for the first time usually finds them not keen to enter the water. Having another dog happily playing and swimming will encourage the pup to get its feet wet. The movement and noise of the sea makes them unsure at first. If your pup is hesitant, take a break and try again later. Never pick up a puppy and try to get it swimming while it is struggling. This will only increase its anxiety and will have the opposite effect to what you are aiming for.

To introduce your dog to a pool you need to be prepared to get wet. Enter the pool and call with a happy voice while floating a ball near the shallow top step and coax the pup to get it. This may take some time before he will allow you to touch him while in the shallow end. The dog’s swimming stroke is like his walking movement, known as doggy paddle. Once he allows you to touch him and play around you can attempt to guide him deeper with your hand under his chest to get the feel of the water.

The first few sessions should be kept short and aimed at teaching the dog the way out of the pool. The dog must know where the steps are and be guided to only use the steps to get out. That is why it is so important to actually be in the pool when the pup is learning to use it. Once he can swim and is in deeper water, turn him around to face the steps and let him swim out on his own.

If he has been swimming in salt water, rinse off his coat with fresh water. Salt water dries out the hair and can cause itching and scratching. The same applies for chlorinated water because chlorine also dries the coat and can make a dog sick if he licks himself.

Older dogs tire more quickly, even if they are good swimmers. When dogs become exhausted, swimming and keeping the head above water becomes more difficult.

Do not allow your pet to swim in stagnant water or algae, and make sure your dog does not drink the water. This applies particularly for the dangerous blue-green algae. If it is not safe for people it is not safe for dogs.

A well fitting life vest is important in the ocean because pets can easily be pulled under by strong tides and currants. Drinking salt water can make a dog sick so after a swim offer your dog some clean water.

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