Most dogs love to swim. To many dogs, swimming just comes naturally. The first time that they are exposed to water, they just jump in and start swimming. Sometimes, however, you have to teach your dog to swim.
Why should you teach your dog to swim? Swimming is great exercise for dogs and it is an excellent way for dogs to keep cool on a hot summer day.
Harsh corrections or force should not be used to teach your dog to swim. Never just throw your dog into the water and hope for the best. Swimming should be presented to your dog as a fun, enjoyable activity.
Does your dog have a dog friend who already knows how to swim? The easiest way to teach your dog to swim is for him to see another dog having fun in the water. The other dog should be a friendly dog who enjoys swimming and playing with other dogs. When your dog sees how much fun the other dog is having, he may be enticed to try it himself.
But sometimes this method doesn’t work or another dog is not available. In this case, you should teach your dog to swim gradually. Put your dog on a leash and walk along the shoreline, close to the water, with your dog. Gradually move into the water while you walk so that the water is about ankle high. Praise and encourage your dog to wade through the water with you using small treats or a favorite toy if necessary. Continue until your dog is comfortable with the water covering his paws.
Gradually step further into the water, encouraging your dog and keeping it fun. If you are confident that your dog will stay with you, remove the leash. If not, continue with the leash on, but be careful that it does not impede your dog’s movement. As you continue further out into the water, eventually it will be deep enough that your dog will begin to tread water with his front legs. Praise and encourage your dog and gently support his chest if necessary. Turn and face the shoreline and throw his favorite toy or ball about two feet sideways. Praise your dog when he retrieves it. Continue throwing the toy a few more times. It may take several consecutive sessions for your dog to be comfortable in the water.
Remember to always keep it fun when you teach your dog to swim. Ultimately, your dog will learn that swimming is a fun and entertaining pastime that he will enjoy for years to come.