How To Teach Your Pet To Swim

Taking your dog out for a walk isn’t the only form of physical exercise. Summer is the perfect season to teach your pet how to swim! When it’s hot, nobody likes to go for a walk outside, and this includes both you and your dog. Wouldn’t you much rather spend the day by the water instead of walking in the hot sun?

There are countless games you can play with your dog once they learn how to swim, not to mention it’s a fantastic way to bond and get exercise! Read on to learn how to teach your pet to become a fantastic swimmer.

What You Should Know

Though most dogs do have some natural instinct when it comes to swimming, there are certain breeds that don’t have as strong of an instinct, which is why it’s extremely important that you teach your dog the correct way to be in the water!

Breeds such as Basset Hounds, Dachshunds, Bulldogs, Pugs, and Maltese don’t tend to develop the physical ability to swim. In fact, Maltese might learn the process, but the mere act of swimming gives rise to severe health conditions like arthritis and rheumatism. So you should keep that in mind.

The most important thing to remember is that you can’t force your pet to love the water. Some dogs prefer dry land over wet, but at the same time your dog could be scared. Spend some time getting them used to the water but don’t push it if your dog is feeling anxious or scared.

Safety Rules

As I have already mentioned above, particular breeds don’t adapt well to swimming. These breeds would do well with a floatation device to hold them above the water and keep them safe. There are dozens of doggy lifejacket options that will be perfect for your pet! If you’re planning on being in the deep water these safety tools are great for strong swimmers as well.

When first getting started with teaching your dog to swim it’s important to start in a quiet, calm area. Loud noises and people can give your dog anxiety which in turn could make it much more difficult to learn.

Starting out you should always have a leash securely attached to your dog’s harness or collar so that you can assist them with swimming movements. Your goal is to keep calling your dog back to you, so once you achieve that you can eliminate the leash.

Two important safety guidelines to remember are that you should never leave your pet unattended in the water. Even if your dog is a strong swimmer make sure you’re keeping an eye on them! Also, avoid putting your dog in the deep end of a pool or lake by themselves for the first time. This could frighten your pup, causing them to never enjoy swimming again.

How to Teach Your Pet to Swim?

Do you remember the first time you gave your dog a bath? The task wasn’t and still isn’t easy, right? You have to take it slowly each time unless your dog isn’t scared of water. In that case, you might just be the luckiest pet owner in the world.

Essentially, swimming is a step by step procedure and you must remember to stay calm and be patient with your dog.

1. Walk Towards The Water

You begin by calmly leashing your dog. Talk to the pup in a confident but cheerful tone and casually lead them to the swimming pool or lake. If your dog hesitates do not start dragging them. Calmly speak to your pet and wait until they are ready to proceed. Every time they take a move in that direction, reward them with praise or treat. But whatever you do, don’t tug on the leash.

You can try to make this the ultimate goal of the day. Associate walking to the pool with good things like receiving treats or getting praised.

2. Time to test the waters, quite literally

This is a significant step for learning how to teach your pet to swim. Once you’re able to reach the edge of that swimming pool with your dog, it’s time to get in there. But not all at once. First, dip your legs in the water and sit by the pool with your dog by your side. Keep talking to your pet in a calm, casual tone. And make sure that you don’t stop those praises and treats.

3. Enter the swimming pool

Now you can get into the water completely but use the steps to do that. Climb down the first 2-3 steps and call the dog towards you. At this time, you can gently pull the leash. If your dog comes to you, then reward them and climb down a few steps more. Then repeat the calling out and rewarding action.

4. Swim!

If your dog passes the first few steps with flying colors, you can swim out further and call them by name. Another command that you can add here is “let’s swim.” Feel free to pull on the leash gently. Once your dog’s entire body is in the water, immediately show them how they can turn around to find those stairs and get out of the pool.

All this while, please don’t forget to reward your pet with tons of praises and maybe some treats too.

5. Repeat the steps several times

You can repeat the whole procedure as many times as it takes until your dog seems to enjoy swimming and is no longer afraid. And when you think you’ve practiced enough, try it without the leash.

At this time, you can even replace the food treats with a squeaky toy or tennis ball. This is when the fun time begins!

Goal Achieved!

Once your dog learns how to swim, you can enjoy an array of summertime activities! You just need to have lots of patience to get through the process.  I hope you liked the article and find it easy to teach your dog how to swim. Thank you for reading. Bow-wow folks!

About the author:

Ruby Smith is the founder of PetSoFun. She’s an expert at giving advice about the emotional and physical well-being of dogs and cats. Her primary goal is to ensure that your pets live a healthy and happy life. And this is the reason why she writes so passionately about the things you can do to achieve that.

3 replies
  1. EntirelyPets
    EntirelyPets says:

    True, people, please use caution. My sister lost a puppy to a swimming pool where the puppy wiggled its way through without looking. Saddest day of her life. We recommend always having a ramp for dogs and other critters to walk out. This would have saved the puppy’s life.


Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] not to try to force a dog to swim on a regular basis. However, if you have a pool, you should teach your dog to swim regardless of whether or not your dog likes the water. This is not to be cruel or impose your will. […]

  2. […] not to try to force a dog to swim on a regular basis. However, if you have a pool, you should teach your dog to swim regardless of whether or not your dog likes the water. This is not to be cruel or impose your will. […]

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