One of the best parts about summer is taking a cool dip to escape the heat. While we’d love for our dogs to jump in and go swimming with us, some dogs would rather stay on shore, avoiding any contact with the water.
My dog was terrified of water. If you got him anywhere need a body of water his eyes would get wide, he’d shiver, and all around just lose it. Determined to help my dog enjoy swimming, I introduced it slowly, using a lot of the techniques below. Then one day, it just seemed to click – the fear of water evaporated and my pup learned to enjoy a dip in the lake.
We’ll share a few tips on how to get your dog swimming and comfortable with the water. Read on to find ways to encourage your dog to feel confident with water.
Never Force Your Dog into The Water
To avoid instilling fear into your pup, never toss your dog or forcefully drag them into water. Your dog will need your positivity and patience when you’re training them to do any activity. Other behaviors will cause them to dislike the water even more and could be potentially dangerous to your dog.
Bath Time = Fun Time
Your dog may not be too keen on getting into a large body of water at first. Instead, focus on getting them to enjoy bath time first. Whether you bathe them indoors or outdoors, use warm water and rinse them with water on a low pressure setting or a cup. Be sure to give them plenty of praise and treats to let them know they are doing a good job.
If your dog is still hesitant about getting in to a larger body of water, try using a pool to further introduce them to swimming. Your dog will feel more comfortable wading in area with a gradual drop-off and be able to see where the pool starts and ends for easy exits.
If you don’t have the luxury of an in-ground pool, try using a kiddie pool. Make sure you get in the pool with them to show them there’s nothing to be afraid of.
Keep it Positive
Lure them into the water by using their favorite toys or treats. Act as if it’s playtime. If your dog senses you have a positive attitude and are comfortable, they will begin to act the same. Avoid yelling, cold water or abandonment while they’re in the water. This could cause anxiety that may deepen their fear of water.
Use Other Dogs When Swimming
If your dog is social and enjoys being around other dogs, have them hang around other pups who love the water. Allowing your dog to observe their body language will allow them to understand water can be fun without them having to try to comprehend what you’re trying to tell them.