After being cooped up all winter long, soaking up some rays in the warm sun is a welcome thought. Hanging out by the lake or the pool with family and friends is a great way to spend the weekend. But what about our four-legged friends? They may long to hit the water but may not really know how and that’s where you come in.
How to teach your dog to swim:
Pick a good location
Use a shallow end of a pool that is deep enough to allow swimming or a still, non-tidal lakeside or inlet that has a gentle slope into the water. If you take your dog swimming in the wild, make sure that the water is clean and not dangerous.
Take it slowly
Let your dog go up to the edges of the water in their own time, and sniff about, get their paws wet and generally explore the edges in their own time. Do not try to push or force your dog into the water. The sensation of being in water is very strange for our dogs, so it may take them time to get used to the idea.
Tempt your dog to step into the water by walking in a little way yourself, and speak encouragingly to your dog while offering them treats and praise. Find a toy that will float and use this to tempt your dog to go in a little further. And don’t be afraid to use a canine life jacket or buoyancy aid for extra safety while you go through this process.
Give them plenty of encouragement
When your dog is relaxed and comfortable with things so far, encourage them to go out a little further, while still being able to reach the base of the pool. If your dog is unhappy or frightened, again, do not push them or force them outside of their comfort zone. It is important that your dog is having a good time and not frightened, or they will be reluctant around water in the future.
Tips on holding them during training
Support your dog around their middle gently. Your dog should begin paddling with their front legs in order to keep their head above the water. Help them learn to use their hind limbs by raising their back end up slightly, which should encourage them to kick with their hind legs while paddling with their front legs.
Once your dog is paddling with their front legs as well as kicking with their hind legs, they should be buoyant in the water, and you will be able to remove your supporting hand. Let your dog splash about and explore the water while swimming, using their toy to keep them entertained.
Summer is the perfect time to spend leisurely hanging by the pool or lake. But it is always important to know how to keep every safe while having a good time.