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Do Dogs Need to be Taught to Swim?
Swimming is a great activity for you and your dog…it’s fun, it’s great exercise and it helps cool you off during warmer weather. But will your dog need to be taught how to swim, or does it just come naturally?
What comes naturally for most dogs, is that when they “leave the safety of land” and find themselves in water deeper than they are tall, they will begin dog paddling. And although this will keep them afloat for a short period of time, it doesn’t mean they know how to swim. So before you introduce your dog to the deep end of a pool or let them jump off the side of the boat or pier, it would be a good idea to take it slow at first and give your pup a few basic lessons. This will help him/her will feel more comfortable and confident.
Teaching your dog to swim…
Your dog’s introduction to swimming should be very well supervised, in a quiet area, which will help her focus on swimming and not distractions, and in a calm manner. She may be a little bit reluctant at first, and you may need to encourage her into the water (toys often work well), but never use force or just toss her into the water, and never leave her unattended for any amount of time at all.
If possible, start in shallow water, gradually moving into deeper where your dog will need to start paddling to stay afloat. When you reach this point, it’s a good idea to put your arm around your dog’s belly for support. This will also encourage her to paddle with her back legs as well as her front; using the front legs only will cause her to tire more easily and she may find herself just splashing rather than actually swimming. Keep a leash on your dog for safety.
Once your swim is over, show her the proper way to reach dry ground. It’s also a good teaching method to give plenty of verbal and physical praise, and maybe even a special treat.
Dogs who are not swimmers…
Not all dogs will want to swim, even after you have tried to make them comfortable in the water. So you make them comfortable on dry land and don’t force the issue.
Although they may enjoy splashing in shallow water, there are dogs whose body type is not designed for swimming. These are dogs who have one or a combination of these characteristics:
- Deep round chest
- Short legs
- Full coats of fur that get too heavy when wet
- Flat face
Some dog breeds who aren’t built for swimming and don’t make good swimmers are:
- English and French Bulldogs
- Basset Hound
- Chow Chos
- Bull Terrier
Typically these breeds are non swimmers, although, I have seen Bulldogs, Corgis and Boston Terriers swim.
Play it safe with these dogs, whenever you’re around water, especially in a boat, make sure they are safety protected with the proper life vest.
At BowWow Fun Towne, we have a wonderful pool for your dogs to learn to swim in, and once they’re comfortable they can have a great time with their canine friends in.
Enjoy this video as we introduce Flavia to the wonderful world of swimming.
Inexperienced swimmers splash a lot. Experienced swimmers know how to conserve their paddles so they are more efficient maneuvering in the water. Flavia splashed a lot on her first lap but after her 2nd dip, she got the hang of it. She is one smart Lab because it took her about 5 minutes and she knew how to swim. She had never swam before!