Teach Your Dog to Swim!

Teach Your Dog to Swim!

Though our pools won’t be much more than ankle deep, our upcoming Pool Party on Saturday, August 27th got me thinking about dogs and swimming.  I have a Golden Retriever that won’t swim.  She obviously never got the memo that she’s a water dog.  Though we assume dogs are natural born swimmers, not all breeds (or all dogs, even if they are “water dogs”) are.  Some breeds can’t swim at all and will sink without a floatation device.  It’s a great idea to introduce your dog to water when it’s a puppy.  But, regardless of age, these steps below will help get your dog swimming in no time (or at least they’ll be more comfortable with water!).  Some dogs may take to swimming quickly, but if yours doesn’t, don’t worry.  These steps can be done over a period of several days so they don’t get overwhelmed.

Breeds That Are The Worst Swimmers
1. English Bulldog
2. Pug
3. French Bulldog
4. Corgi
5. Dachshund
6. Bull Terrier
7. Basset Hound
8. Chow Chow
9. Pekingese
10. Shih-Tzu

1.  NEVER throw your dog into the water for her first swim.  This will only ensure that she’ll never want to swim again.

2.  Start somewhere quiet and shallow so that you can walk in the water beside your dog.  Keep your dog leashed until they are able to swim unassisted and consistently come back to you when called.  If needed, have them wear a life vest (especially if they are one of the breeds listed above).  Let them get used to getting their feet wet.  You know how shocking it can be when your toes hit cold water initially.  It takes time for your dog to get used to it too!

3.  Bring some favorite toys or treats to help coax her farther into the water.

4.  This next step can be tough with Colorado’s cold water temperatures, even in the summertime.  But using lots of verbal praise, take her deeper into the water until she has to start paddling to stay afloat.  If she needs a little extra support, put your arm under her belly.  This will help her use her rear legs along with her front legs.  She’ll tire more easily if she is only using her front legs to swim.  Support her until she is using all four legs to swim.

5.  If your dog starts to panic, go back to shallow water, calm down and try again!