There is a misconception that most dogs are natural born swimmer, but this actually isn’t the case. Some dogs are easy to pick up on swimming while others need to be taught. If done safely, teaching a dog to swim can be beneficial for burning energy, and beating the summer heat! It’s also a great skill for dogs to have in the event that they accidentally wander off or that any other water related emergency occurs.
No matter what breed your dog may be, it is important that they start off learning how to swim with a life jacket. Most pet stores have these in stock and you should find one with a handle that you can hold or put a leash on. Your dog may need to wear the life jacket for a little bit to grow accustomed to it before getting in the water.
In the beginning it’s important to stay in the shallow end where your dog is still able to walk around. Starting there you can ease your dog into the water, so you do not startle them. You can have some toys or treats handy to get your dog moving around. It’s important to have control over the leash that will be attached to your dog’s life jacket. It’s necessary to note that while a life jacket is a great tool for learning how to swim but it’s not a substitute for actual practice. Keep an eye on your dog and look for signs of exhaustion, since swimming requires a lot of effort. If your dog is breathing hard or his lower body is sagging back then it’s time to take a break for the day. It’s also a good idea to have fresh drinking water nearby for your dog’s hydration.
Once your dog is in the water and you’ve eased them in by taking steps in the shallow zone, you can begin to gradually go a bit deeper. If you pet seems resistant try using verbal praises and positive tones. it’s important that you keep an eye on your dog’s body language, making sure they seem confident. Once you are in water deep enough for you to stand in- support your dogs belly so that they can practice using all four limbs to paddle. It’s also very important that the first few sessions are kept to around 10 minutes especially, while building stamina. If you measure your dogs progress you will eventually see when they are ready to swim on their own or for slightly longer periods of time. No matter how much of an expert swimmer your dog may become, it is always important to pay attention to them while they are in the water!