Not all dogs are bred for the water. Some will pretty much sink like a rock the moment they hit the water. But that doesn’t mean you can’t make an excellent swimmer out of every dog. All it takes is to teach your dog how to swim.
Which Category Does My Dog Fall?
The first step in teaching your furry friend how to swim is to know their swimming prowess. As far as swimming ability goes, there are three types of dogs.
The first category is dogs that can naturally swim well. Often, such dogs are bred for water rescue and activity. They are excellent swimmers and tend to enjoy the water naturally. But which type of dog breeds fall in this category? Well, water-loving dog breeds include Spaniels and Retrievers. Good examples are:
- Labrador Retriever
- Golden Retriever
- American Water Spaniel
- Irish Water Spaniel
- Portuguese Water Dog.
The second category is for dogs that need help swimming. Well, such do breeds have the innate ability to swim. However, they quickly get overwhelmed by the vastness of water. Good examples are:
Lastly, we have dogs that aren’t natural swimmers. Such breeds just aren’t built for the water. Short hind limbs, short muzzles, and large boxy chests characterize such dog breeds. Good examples include:
- Basset Hounds
Safety precautions are one thing you can’t afford to forego, not even if your dog boasts the swimming prowess of Michael Phelps or Ryan Lochte.
- Make available a source of fresh, clean drinking water
- Consider a dog life vest if you’re in a lake area
- Ensure your dog doesn’t have any water-related allergies
- Rinse your dog after every swimming session to keep them healthy
- Choose a clean, quiet body of water with no currents
- Never push or throw your furry friend into the water for the first swim
- Always keep close supervision
- Keep distractions such as noise and activity low
- Avoid frigid water as it can give your dog hypothermia
The 5 Crucial Steps to Introduce Your Dog to Swimming
Step 1: Teach your dog to respond to your commands
More often than not, your dog will tend to swim too far out. Also, your dog is less likely to spot dangers in the water. So, it’s essential to teach your dog to come to you when called. It will eliminate the need to drag him out of the water by the leash, a practice that’s quite dangerous for your dog.
Step 2: Introduce your dog to water
Get your dog used to the water. It will make the transition to swimming much easier. Well, I recommend starting it in shallow water. Let your dog walk in an inch or two of water while you closely supervise. Also, you can wade out with your dog at heel.
You can make things a lot more fun by setting up a sprinkler in your yard and letting your dog run around it. Whichever way, you want to ensure your dog builds a positive association with water. It will make them feel more comfortable while in the water and also make them feel at ease swimming in deeper areas.
Note: Don’t force the issue. If your dog isn’t into the water thing, that’s okay. After all, water isn’t something for all dogs.
Step 3: Use a floatation device
It’s a crucial step, especially if you’re worried about your dog’s safety. Most important, you should consider it for older dogs or those with mobility issues. Generally, a floatation device allows your dog to swim without the fear of getting drowned or exhausted.
Well, there’s a wide variety of dog floatation devices. Typically, they are vest-like jackets that hook around the chest and under the belly.
Well, whichever floatation device you pick, ensure it offers a snug fit. Also, consider one that has a handle on the back. It will make it easier to grab your dog out of the water in case of any danger.
Step 4: Enter the water with your dog
Well, you can easily tell your dog to enter the water, especially one that responds well to commands. Still, your dog needs some encouragement and support. Hence, get into the water with your dog. Do it multiple times until your dog is comfortable with deep water.
Step 5: Let the dog paddle with your support
Your dog will more likely panic and get away from you. To avoid that, hold it tightly around its midsection. Not only will it be getting support from you, but it will also be able to paddle with the front and back paws.
Always ensure to take a break as swimming can be very exhausting for your dog. In the event your dog is panting excessively, I recommend calling it a day.
Tricks to Encourage Your Dog to Swim
There are several tricks to encourage your dog to adventure into the water.
- Once he gets the hang of it, it will be a good idea to put him with another dog that loves swimming
- Throw toys into the water and let your dog swim after to retrieve them
- Keep your dog motivated by rewarding them with treats for every milestone they make in the water
Building Your Dog’s Skills
Making an excellent swimmer out of your dog is a journey of several milestones. So, it will be a good idea to find new ways to build and sharpen your dog’s swimming skills.
I recommend you slowly build your way to larger bodies of water. Start from the pool and progress to a deep pond or lake. For better results, ensure you make the transition after every week.
Also, you should make swimming a regular part of your dog’s life. Hence, make it a habit to take him to a river or lake weekly. After all, practice makes perfect.
Is chlorinated water safe for my dog to swim in?
Well, excess chlorine tends to cause irritations or allergies. Symptoms include red eyes and coughing. So, what’s the recommended level of chlorine in pools?
Okay, I recommend using 1-3 milligrams of chlorine per liter of water. It’s a safe level, safe enough for your dog to even ingest.
At what age should I introduce my dog to water?
Your dog should start getting used to water as early as possible. You can get started as early as 8 weeks when your dog is still a puppy. Still, it’s never too late. So, feel free to take your old furry friend for swimming lessons.
Dogs are born with natural instincts. However, swimming isn’t something that every dog shares. Some will need some teaching to get the hang of it. And even those that are naturally good swimmers will still need it to perfect their swimming skills. Also, the time spent teaching your dog how to swim helps build a stronger bond and trust with your canine friend.