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Giving Your Dog a Swimming Lesson

There’s nothing better than a cool dip in the lake or backyard pool on a steamy summer day. Your dog would certainly enjoy it too, but give him a swimming lesson first.

Not all dogs are natural swimmers. Some breeds, such as bulldogs, take to the water like boulders. At the risk of mentioning what should be common sense: Don’t toss your dog into deep water as an introduction to swimming.

When teaching your dog to swim, start in a shallow area where you can stand close to him. Start slowly. Let him get accustomed to having wet feet. Praise him when he enters the water and you might even use a few treats to lure him into the water.

Avoid giving the lesson in a noisy location or where there are a lot of distractions. You want your dog to focus on swimming.

Gradually escort your dog into deeper water until he starts to paddle to keep afloat. You should place your arm under his belly if he appears to need extra support. This should entice him to start paddling his rear legs too.

If your dog uses only his front legs, he’ll tire more quickly. Keep supporting him until he seems comfortable in the water. If he starts to struggle or appear alarms, guide him back into the shallow water, praise him and let him calm down.

Make sure you show your dog how to get out of the swimming pool or how to climb back into a boat. Never leave your dog alone in the water.

If you feel your dog isn’t a strong swimmer, you can look into buying a doggy flotation device.
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