How to teach your dog to swim

One of the best things about summer is cooling off in your local swimming hole, especially if you can have a swimming buddy, so why not your dog!

If you live near a dog friendly lake or beach, or you have a backyard pool, you should definitely encourage your dog to join you for a swim. But you may want to teach your dog a few basic lessons first, especially if he or she has never been swimming before.

Safety first

Dog in waterJust because you have a dog doesn’t mean he’ll be a natural swimmer. In fact, some breeds, the bulldog, for example cannot swim at all and will sink right to the bottom if tossed in the water without a flotation device holding them above water.

Dogs that are lightweight, have short legs, or will be spending time out on the boat in deep waters with you should be outfitted with their own life vest or jacket. Too much noise and activity can be distracting. Begin with a quiet area of the lake, river or pool, and keep your dog leashed at all times in case they get into trouble and to keep him from swimming too far out. The leash should not come off until he is able to swim unassisted and is consistently returning to you when called back.

Never (ever!) leave a dog unattended in the water, not even for a minute. And for goodness sake, don’t throw your dog into the water for their first swim. It’ll only frighten the dog to the point that he’ll never want to swim again.

Start slow

When teaching your dog to swim, it’s best to start in a shallow area where you can walk beside your pet. Put on the flotation vest if needed, attach the leash, and walk slowly into the water, letting the dog get used to having wet feet.

If your pet is reluctant, bring a toy or a few training treats to coax him in farther. Use a positive tone of voice and lots of verbal praise when he enters the water. Gradually take him into deeper water until he must start paddling to stay afloat. At this point, you can use an arm to provide support under your dog’s belly if he appears to need the extra support. This gives him the incentive to paddle his rear legs along with the front legs.

You don’t want your dog to use only his front legs to swim, as he will tire more quickly and splash around. Keep supporting him until he seems comfortable in the water and is using all four limbs to swim. If at any point he appears to be panicking, back up into the shallow water and let him calm down before trying again.

Post-swim ritual

When the lesson is over, it’s time to get your dog out of the pool or boat. Take your time showing him the proper and safe way to exit the boat or pool so he can find his own way out the next time. A good final rinse with fresh water will help get rid of any residual chemicals or algae that might be clinging to his haircoat. Finally, give him lots of verbal and physical praise after the lesson, and maybe an extra treat. This will help your dog to associate fun and positive times with the experience of swimming.

(Article source: Pet MD)

6 steps to get your dog in a swimming pool

Dog in poolThe experience of swimming in a pool should be a positive experience with positive associations. With some dogs, they take to it immediately. With others, it takes time and patience. Unlike the ocean, a lake or pond, a swimming pool has walls, and your dog may sense they will be trapped.

 

 

Step 1
Calmly leash your dog. Talking in a cheerful and confident tone of voice, casually lead them to the pool. Do not drag them! If they balk, unleash them and try again at another time.

Step 2
Without tugging on the leash, encourage him/her toward the pool, with your voice. Each time they step forward, reward them with praise and treats. They should associate by walking with you toward the pool, good things such as getting praised and receiving treats happen! Consider this the goal for the day. This has been a positive experience with positive associations.

Step 3
At this point the objective is to simply get him/her to the edge of the pool. Stand at the edge of the pool, petting him/her and continue to praise and give treats. Put your feet in the pool, have your dog sit at your side. Continue to talk to your dog in a normal tone of voice. Use lots of praise and treats. Consider this your goal for the day. This has been a positive experience with positive associations.

Step 4
Repeat steps 1 and 2. Get into the pool, walk down the first two steps. Now, call your dog to follow you while gently pulling the leash. Each step they take should be rewarded with praise and treats. He/she should come forward however, they may try to retreat. Only when he/she comes forward, should you reward with praise and a treat! You may have to help them by putting their front feet into the water on the first step. Reward him/her with lots of praise and treats. Consider this your goal for the day. This has been a positive experience with positive associations.

Step 5
If you can get your dog through steps 1-3, now, swim out into the pool calling them by name, giving the command “let’s swim!”; while gently pulling on the leash. As soon as their whole body is in, immediately show them how to turn around and find the stairs to get out. You did it! Reward your dog with lots of praise and treats. Consider this your goal for the day! This has been a positive experience with positive associations.

Step 6
Repeat steps 1-4 often enough that your dog will willingly get in with the leash slack. Try calling them without the leash! They should get in readily. Use lots of praise. Instead of food treats in the water, reward with a tennis ball or squeaky toy. Teaching your dog to get into the pool has been a positive experience, with lots of positive associations.

Bottom line
Use highly motivating treats. The value of the reward must be worth the effort they make. Also, make sure your dog knows where the ladder, steps or shelf is located, so they can exit the pool without panicking.

(Article source: Dogs Best Life)


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