Teach your dog to swim
Teach your dog to swim
Dogs that swim regularly are stronger, healthier and have a lower chance of developing cardiovascular disease. But even though puppies are born with the natural ability to ‘doggy paddle’, staying horizontal in the water can be a challenge and introducing your canine friend to water is an important step in their life.
We are getting ready to start
Choose a warm, pleasant day for your dog’s first swimming lesson. Hire a helper who knows your dog and visit a beach or river that isn’t too disturbing. Avoid large crashing waves, noisy jets and places where there is a lot of shouting and splashing.
If you are teaching a puppy to swim, you may find that he is eager to get into the water right away. Young puppies have not learned to fear water and swimming will seem like another fun trick to discover. Older dogs may seem scared or reluctant to enter the water, but don’t mistake this for an aversion to swimming. Your dog needs to swim in a safe and controlled environment to gain confidence and feel comfortable in the water.
The swimming lesson
Carry your puppy or dog several meters in knee- or waist-deep water. Place one hand under your dog’s belly and hold the rear end up, gently holding her tail so it’s level in the water. Face your shore helper and submerge the dog’s torso in the water. You will notice that his feet start moving as soon as they touch the surface. When it is paddling vigorously, remove your hand from under the belly and briefly hold the rear end up by the tail to keep the animal level.
Your helper should clap and offer words of encouragement as you release your dog’s tail and watch him swim directly to shore.
Likewise, you can also teach your dog to swim in a pool – if you’re willing to clean the dog hair out of the filter, that is! First, allow your dog to get comfortable in the middle of the pool with you and show him the steps of the pool. Then, holding the dog, take a few steps back from the edge and submerge him, supporting his belly and lightly holding his tail, and let him swim back to the steps. Repeat this exercise several times.
Dog swim instructors are another excellent way to introduce your dog to the water. Bring another dog along, ideally your dog’s friend who is already confident in the water, and you’ll find that your pup is eager to imitate his friend.
Under no circumstances should you throw a dog into a pool or over the edge of a boat. Your dog will panic and you will have difficulty getting him close to water again.
Many dogs enjoy retrieving sticks and other floating objects from the water, but be aware that just like us, they are prone to cramping or fatigue. Puppies, senior dogs, and smaller breeds tire easily, so don’t let them overexert themselves, especially if you’re training with a stronger, more capable dog.
Teach your dog to swim and both you and your canine companion will enjoy hours of frolicking in the water, not to mention top-notch socializing opportunities!
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