Do you wish to take your furry buddy for a paddle? Dogs can be great swimming companions if taught the art properly. Of course just like all humans aren’t great swimmers, not all dogs are fans of the water. Especially toy breeds such as the Chihuahua, Yorkshire terrier, pug, etc. The bulldog as well isn’t a good swimmer due to the body structure.
With the right tools and positive training methods, you can teach your pooch to paddle their way into the water. But first, let’s look at the health benefits of swimming for your pup.
Why is Swimming Beneficial for Your Pup?
Swimming is a great exercise to burn off energy; it can also help in strengthening the bond between you and your dog. If you are bored of the usual long walks and hikes, swimming is another useful activity to keep your dog fit. For dogs suffering from arthritis, swimming is a fantastic activity that doesn’t put a lot of pressure on the joints. It also helps maintain muscle mass and enables them to move while minimizing pain and discomfort. Dogs love new adventures, and swimming gives them the advantage of being off-leash. It is also an incredible way to cool down during the hot weather and stimulates your dog’s mind.
Things to keep in mind
- Read about your dog’s breed and see if he is a natural swimmer or not. If possible start at an early age. Get an inflatable pool and accustom your dog to the water, teach him how to love it.
- Safety needs to be your utmost priority. Whether your dog knows how to swim or not, don’t leave your baby unattended in the lake or pool.
- Never I repeat never throw your dog in the water, teach him very patiently and work with him at his pace.
- Don’t forget to get the essential supplies; a life jacket is necessary to prevent your pooch from drowning. You can also use a safety harness to protect your dog during the lessons. Ask your vet regarding pet-safe sunscreen for your dog to avoid sunburn.
- Don’t go for a swim immediately after your pooch eats his meal to prevent bloating. Wait for about 2 hours before you hit the waters.
- Accustom your dog to the life jacket before taking him for the lesson, so he gets comfortable with it
Okay, so I believe those instructions will do it, let’s move on to the training part.
Teaching your dog to swim
First things first, choose a beach, lake or pool that allows dogs. I would recommend a place that doesn’t have a lot of noise and distractions. If you visit the beach, start off by letting your dog walk in the shallows while on the leash. Most dogs won’t get scared as long as they can feel the ground.
Gradually encourage your dog to enter the water, he will get motivation if you wade in first and ask him to follow. You can use any toy or treats to attract him inside, make sure he is wearing the safety vest.
Don’t rush things and don’t force him, remember both of you are there to have fun and spend time together. When your dog gets comfortable with the water teach him to paddle using all four legs.
Use your arm to provide support under his belly, this way he’ll learn how to use his hind legs and tail. Keep praising your pooch as he progresses; you’ll see that after a while he will have fun.
Keep a tab on your dog and see for signs of tiredness. If you find your pup panting heavily or sinking into the water, it’s time to come out. Since pool water is treated with chemicals, immediately wash your dog after the swim.
Once your pup masters the art, you can enjoy other water sports together. You and your pooch can try activities such as paddle-boarding, surfing, and canoeing. Some of your breeds would even love to play water retrieval, a version of fetch that has swimming involved. But if you think your pooch prefers the land no matter how much you train him than respect his choices. After all, what truly matters is just having a good time with your furry friend.
Jenny Perkins is an Animal Behavior Specialist and a passionate writer. She loves to write about the nutrition, health, and care of dogs. She aims at providing tips to dog owners that can help them become better pet parents. She writes for the blog Here Pup.