Most dogs love swimming, especially if they can do it together with their owner. However, quite typical is the story when you come to a lake (or wherever you swim) just to find out your dog is afraid of the water.
Should you accept your dog won’t be a diving champion or should you try to create an interest of swimming in him?
It’s not a simple question to answer in a website as every case must be examined separately.
The levels of stress in dogs vary in a large amplitude. If your dog is afraid a lot, think twice if you need to expose your dog to a large stress for swimming. Maybe it’s not worth it? Do you have a reason for your dog to swim good enough to outweigh the effort? Only you can answer this question, sorry. I won’t help you here.
Don’t push your dog into water
If you take a decision that you should give it a try, number one rule to remember is: “Don’t push!” Throwing a dog into water won’t help. It’ll just make the fear even larger, and your dog might never accept swimming as a pleasant activity.
- Go to a place with shallow water. This will make it possible to play in water without the hardest part – swimming.
- Observe how close to water your dog is willing to come. No matter if he likes to get his feet wet of if he feels safe only on a shore, you must note the border, your dog is not crossing. And most importantly – you should respect this border, for now.
- If your dog feels comfortable on shore, start playing there. Use toys, treats, praises. Run with him without crossing the safe border, perform some training commands. In two words: “Have fun!”
- After some time, you might try to come near the water or even enter it. Do it seamlessly without getting too much attention to your dog.
- If your dog is not following, you may try to encourage him. Show a treat or throw a toy. Splash the water with your hand to create an interest. If your dog is still resistant, step aside. It’s not the time yet, and you need to play more at a safe distance. For how long – it depends on the dog. Might be enough with a short break or might try to take a day off.
- If your dog comes near the water or enters it, praise. Give a treat, play and keep having fun. But carefully observe his behavior. Don’t hold him physically if he wants to go back. Once back in a safety, praise and show how proud you are.
- Now it’s a good to take a short break. Don’t play or run. Let him do whatever he wants.
Following the previous pattern you might be able to enter the water with your dog and slowly move deeper. Of course, remember not to push him. Encourage coming deeper only with having fun. And stop whenever your dog gets tired.
When you get to actual swimming, your dog will probably still feel unsafe. Allow him to swim a small circle and return on shore. May try to lead him with your hands and hold his back, so it does not go down.
Remember to praise your dog constantly. When he starts to swim, when he swims and when he returns back. It will take some time before he’ll feel safe, but if you get this far – it will probably be okay. If you retain patience.
Photos by normanack and PET-happy.com