Swimming with your dog is a fun way to give them some exercise while increasing your bond, and teaching this valuable skill makes it possible to take your dog anywhere. While some dogs naturally leap into water and start to swim, others require a little more time and patience to get them comfortable around the water.
It is also important for you as a pet owner to practice basic safety strategies such as giving your pup a life jacket anytime you are around the water. As you get ready to swim with your favorite canine, use these tips to make your lessons effective and fun.
Choose a Gentle Body of Water
Diving into the ocean is intimidating for a first-time swimmer. Therefore, you will want to start off by getting your dog acclimated to water in general.
For tentative pups, this may begin in the bathtub or a shallow wading pool. If your dog is more adventurous, then you can go ahead and venture to any gentle body of water such as an outdoor pool or stream that is shallow enough that your dog can stand up in it at first.
Ideally, the place you choose should be fairly private at first so that your dog can focus solely on your commands.
Outfit Your Dog With a Life Jacket
Dogs are natural swimmers, yet it is important to remember that they are subject to the same risks that are associated with fatigue as humans. It is also possible for dogs to become overwhelmed by currents in natural bodies of water such as the lake. For this reason, your dog should be outfitted with a life jacket that suits their body size.
To get them used to wearing a life jacket, put it on them during your practice sessions. Then, make sure that they always have one on anytime you are playing near the water, just in case they hop in for a swim.
Related: Best Life Jackets for Dogs
Play Nearby The Pool or Stream
You want your dog to associate water with fun. You can accomplish this goal by spending time with your pet playing their favorite games alongside the water. Run together along the edge of a stream, or play fetch next to the shallow side of a swimming pool. Once your dog starts to get tired or hot, move toward the water and invite them to follow.
Most likely, your dog will step into the water to cool off. Provide them with plenty of praise and encouragement, but never force them to go deeper until they are ready. After several sessions, your dog will start to show an interest in splashing around as they get comfortable with the water.
Get In the Water With Your Dog
The next step for teaching your dog to swim involves you getting wet as well. Put on your swimsuit and strap on your dog’s life jacket, and get ready to have some serious fun. Showing your dog that you also love the water will give them a sense of security.
Begin this session by bringing your dog’s favorite toy into the water, and start a game of fetch. The ideal toy for this activity should float slightly so that your dog gets used to putting their snout into the water. As they begin to get into it, begin tossing the toy into deeper water.
Eventually, your dog will start swimming to retrieve the toy. As with any training activity, always give your dog lots of praise for a job well done.
Acclimate Your Dog to Other Water Experiences
Once your dog is used to swimming in general, you will want to help them get used to other types of experiences. For instance, taking your dog to a public swimming area that is pet-friendly allows your dog to get accustomed to following your commands in the water when distractions are present.
Alternatively, you may desire to get your dog accustomed to riding along beside you on a boat and jumping into the water only when you give them the signal that it is okay. As you introduce your dog to new water experiences, make sure to continue following the basic safety rules such as giving them a life jacket and always keep an eye out for fatigue so that each new water experience is positive.
Few things are more exciting for a dog than splashing around in the water with their best friend. Give your dog a fun way to cool off and get some exercise by teaching them to swim this season.
Whether you have a beach dog or one that simply prefers lounging by the backyard pool, making sure that they know how to swim is a critical part of your pet safety plan that leads to fun opportunities for bonding.