How to Teach Your Dog to Love Swimming?

As summer slides into place, we’re all making plans for fun in the sun and water. But how much more fun would it be if your dog could take part, too? Some dogs take to the water like they were born for it but others need a little more encouragement. In fact, many dogs need you to teach them to love swimming.

Put Safety First

You may think that your dog was born with all of the equipment he needs to swim, but that’s debateable. Depending on what breed or age his is, your dog may not be natural swimmer. So, practice safety by using a doggie life vest and NEVER leaving your dog alone in the water.

Do not ever push, pull, or force your dog into the water. This is both dangerous and counterproductive. You can seriously injure your dog or yourself. And in the end, you’ll just make him more afraid of the water than before you started.

Start ‘Em Slow

You want to make those first experiences as pleasant as possible. Choose a calm body of water on a warm day. If you can manage it, make sure that there’s a gradual way to descend into the water. This will help you start slow. It will also help you show your dog the safest way to get in and out.

In the beginning, the water should be waist level to you. This will allow you to stand and walk in the water while your dog swims. As your dog descends into the water and starts to paddle, you can use your arms to hold him up. Keep holding him up until he’s using all four legs to paddle and can keep himself up.

Use Positive Reinforcement

Remember that all dog training requires that you show your dog what you want him to do and then reward him every time he does it. Give him treats when you first put on his life jacket. Give him plenty of praise when he’s paddling in the water. Don’t praise or give treats when he gets to the shore or you’ll be reinforcing the wrong thing.

If your dog needs a little motivation to get in the water, consider throwing one of his favorite fetch toys in or inviting some other dogs who love the water to encourage him. If you can make it fun for him, you’ve got a leg up on teaching him to swim. v