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Teaching Your Dog To Swim

If you go to a popular doggy swim area you are sure to see lots of happy dogs splashing around. This is because most of them absolutely love water, and many are very strong swimmers. However, it's important to emphasize that not all dog breeds are confident swimmers, so don't just toss him in and hope for the best! English Bulldogs and Dachshunds, for example, have short legs that won't keep them afloat for very long.

If you can get your dog to swim, that's great, as he will be getting lots of exercise. It is said that a five minute swim can be the equivalent of taking your dog on a five mile walk.

A Husky swimming in a nice clean swimming pool
All dogs are natural swimmers, and this Husky is no exception

If you think that your dog might be unfit or becoming overweight it is a good idea to consider teaching him to swim. It is an effective way of increasing a dog’s strength and flexibility, whilst lowering his body fat at the same time. If you have a puppy, always bring a towel with you to dry him off before taking him home. It can also be a good idea to rinse your dog with fresh water after he has had a swim, to remove any chemicals or algae.

Where Can I Teach My Dog To Swim?

Most importantly, choose a spot where the water is clean. Canals, lakes and reservoirs often contain infectious diseases like Leptospirosis, so choose somewhere that you know is hygienic. If you know a place where other dogs regularly swim, that might be the best place to start out with your dog.

Throwing a tennis ball for a dog to encourage him to swim further
Dogs can't resist playing fetch, so throwing a ball will encourage him to swim further

Dog Pools

At special Dog Pools you can enrol your canine pal in swim lessons. These come with a price tag of course, but they offer a great way to get all the benefits of swimming without the mud and the risk. Here, your dog can build up the confidence to swim with the help of buoyancy aids, while playing with his favorite toys to make the experience enjoyable. If your dog struggles to stay afloat, a swimming instructor is always there to assist in the water.

Not all areas have this service, so check locally before getting your hopes up!

The sea holds no fears for this dog on a mission with a big stick
The sea holds no fears for this dog on a mission with a big stick

How To Teach Your Dog To Swim

When teaching your dog to swim, confidence is key, so it is important that you start off slow. Allow your dog to become comfortable with getting wet by walking him into the water on the lead. You might have to persuade him with a couple of treats or his favorite toy, but make sure that you reassure him with a positive voice and lots of praise. After a few minutes you can start to venture into deeper water so that he has to begin paddling to stay afloat.

At this point might need to support his belly with one hand, if you notice him getting a bit too low in the water. If your dog starts to panic, bring him into the shallow water again so that he can calm down and regain his confidence, and then try again. Treat your dog when he gets out and shakes himself off so that he can relate swimming to a positive experience. He’ll soon begin to love it.

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