TAGS: training | swimming

How to teach a dog to swim

13 Feb, 2023

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Taking your dog to swim is an excellent activity as it is beneficial for both their health and overall well-being. Once your dog is comfortable in the water, it will be thrilled every time there is the opportunity to jump in! There are tons of dog beaches to be discovered on the DogPack App, so you don’t need to look far once your dog knows how to swim. Some dogs, for example retriever breeds, are natural swimmers who jump in the water the first time they encounter it and excel immediately. On the other hand, some dogs will need more training and encouragement to feel comfortable in the water. We’ve compiled some steps on how you can teach your dog to thrive in the water!

#1 - Introduce your pup to the water


The initial key when teaching your dog to swim is starting slow. First, lead it to very shallow water, such as a kiddie pool or beach shore. Then, when your dog starts to get their paws wet, positively reinforce the behavior with treats. Soon enough, your dog will enjoy getting their paws wet, which is the start of getting them comfortable in the water.


Puppy on Beach Shore


#2 - Get your dog in deeper water


Once your dog is used to the shallow water and enjoys it, you can start moving toward deeper areas. In recent years, more local dog pools have been offering hours for dogs. If a pool nearby provides this option, slowly get your dog in the water while they are wearing a life jacket or have some floating device. Once again, use positive reinforcement once your dog makes it into the water.


Labrador shaking off water


#3 - Gradually increase the depth


After a few swimming sessions, your dog should be more accustomed to the water and will feel comfortable in the deeper water. At this point, you will need to use your judgment and slowly increase the depth. Again, continue to reward your dog with treats when they are able to swim in deeper areas of the pool.

#4 Gradually Increase the Difficulty


As your dog becomes more confident in the water, you can gradually increase the difficulty of the swimming tasks. This could include teaching them to swim longer distances, retrieve items from the water, or swim in rougher conditions.


Golden retriever swimming


#5 - Remove the life jacket and have fun!


If your dog is successfully swimming in the deeper areas of the pool and demonstrates that they are enjoying it, you can take off their life jacket and supervise their swimming. Once your pup associates swimming as a positive activity, they will not be kept out of the water. If you are hiking and a water stream appears, don’t be surprised when they jump in!


Teaching your pup to swim is something that many dog owners ignore. However, it is an excellent source of exercise for your pup and also opens up many more activities for you and your dog to do together. Swimming is especially great for dogs in their later years, as they will get their exercise without putting too much strain on their body. The problem is if your dog never got used to swimming at a younger age, they will be less likely to be open to it later. So do your pup a favor and teach them how to swim!


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