Dog Swimming – Teach your dog to swim

We’re going to try to give some advice on dog swimming and some general safety issues. As always check with your vet on any medical questions.


Teaching a dog to swim:

To start a dog swimming the best idea is to go out in a pool or lake where you can enter the water with your dog. Many dogs will be more confident if you are standing with them if they are nervous about venturing out on their own. So by walking out, you can build their confidence before letting them go on their own. Bring a favorite toy with you and encourage them out further by tossing the toy short distances and swimming over to it.

Some tips:

Bring another dog who knows how to swim along to help encourage your pet to try.

Some dogs can be helped by wearing a life vest (dog swimming life jackets). These usually have handles that you can hold onto easily which help in lifting your dog out of the swimming pool or lake.

Water Freaking

Here is a common problem. Your pup goes off and won’t come back. You have two choices, swim out and get them, or wait until they get tired and come back. Never let them off leash and away from you until you know for a fact they will return or start in shallow water where you can go get them should you need to.

I use a two toy approach to retrieving and swimming. I always keep one close by so I can toss it near me. Try to make a lot of noise to get their attention and toss it into the shallow water. Tennis balls are not the best choice as they can get lodged in the throat blocking the airway. I really like kong retrieving toys or retrieving bumpers.

Afterwords, make sure you RINSE your dog with fresh water to get out any bacteria or chemicals. You can also rinse your dog before hand to help the water not absorb into the coat hair. If you follow these general ideas to get your dog swimming, it’ll happen in no time.

Author: Amy Dunphy

2 thoughts on “Dog Swimming – Teach your dog to swim

  1. I have 2 dogs who are not to great with other dogs (Besides each-other), and don’t really like swimming, I just got them. Our family LOVES swimming, and can’t stand to leave them at home, or to tie them up while we swim, and we can’t let the run free where we swim unless they are swimming with us. I have been trying to get them to like swimming, and have found that by doing what I came up with my self, it has been slowing working, and I just found this and the 2 ideas are almost alike! What I have been doing uses no treats, or toys, only praise, and encouragement. I will go a few feet into the water, and call the dogs, sounding very exited, and clap my hands gently like I am having TONS of fun! Then the dogs take a few steps into the water towards me, and I give them a lot of verbal praise, and then continue calling, and having fun… The dogs make it to me and I give them a bunch of verbal, and physical praise. I have only gotten them to go BARELY above the level of being able to touch the ground with their feet, and then after they receive praise they go back onto the shore and start over, but at first they would only put their front feet just a couple inches in, and stop there. It has been slowly progressing, and I am confident that this is an excellent idea! So glad you have this site on here!

  2. To the above comment. Not to say what you are doing is wrong because in no way is it, but the idea you have is sort of like testing the water with your toe before you jump in.

    The idea given above where you start the dog/puppy in deep water and get it swimming right away works awesome. It builds their confidence with the water soo quickly.

    Another idea is just bring your dog to a beach where many other dogs are. Your dogs can learn, watching other dogs swim. This also works awesome because when your dog sees another run and jump into the water and start to swim after a stick, your dog will most likely do the same thing, then start to swim like you put the trimm up on your boat. With more and more practice and visually seeing other dogs swim, your dog will learn.

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