Teaching your dog to swim this summer in 6 easy steps

Does your pup love to swim? Some dogs head for the water at every opportunity,  and love it so much it can be difficult to get them back out. By contrast, some breeds do not love water and aren’t able to swim instinctively. If your dog fits in this last category, help is at hand with some tips on teaching your dog to swim.

Start out slow

Start out slow by introducing your dog to shallow water.  It is often advisable to put a life vest on the dog and/or a leash.  If your dog responds well to this, gradually move to deeper water so that he needs to do some paddling. Support your dog underneath the belly area to encourage him to use all 4 legs to swim.  Just as with teaching kids to swim, it is advisable to keep your dog’s swimming sessions fairly short, but done regularly.

Look for signs of fear

It is important to keep in mind that many dogs just simply don’t enjoy swimming. Even breeds that were bred for swimming (such as Labrador retrievers) don’t always enjoy it.  Some may be able to swim but have a fear of the water.  Fear can increase fatigue, so always monitor whether your dog is showing signs of being fearful.

Pick the location wisely

Never let your dog swim in areas where the water is too cold or where there are currents.  Don’t let your dog get overly tired while swimming. This is particularly important if you have a puppy or a senior dog. Do bear in mind that dogs can lose orientation when swimming, so keep a close eye on your dog’s location in the water.

Provide support

There are lots of different options available for life vests.  These should be in use when your dog goes on a boat, or for activities such as paddle boarding.

Cleanse and dry

After all the fun of the water, do remember to give your dog a shower or bath to rinse any residual chlorine or salts from his coat. Cleanse ears with an appropriate product and be sure that they are gently but thoroughly dried to prevent ear infections. Provide fresh water for drinking after swimming.

Enjoy the journey

For the journey home, you’ll find that your dog’s coat may still be wet.  Adding a rubber cargo mat for your trunk makes it easy to keep your car’s trunk clean and dry, so you’ll look forward to future sessions teaching your dog to swim.