Teaching Your Dog to Swim

By September 26 | See Comments

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There are few things that can compare to cooling off in your own swimmer cooling hole with your canine companion. If you live near a lake that is dog friendly, or if you have a pool of your own in your backyard, you should definitely encourage your dog to swim. Not only would it be a great exercise for him, it would also help him cool off to beat the summer heat. However, you want to teach Fido some basic swimming lessons, especially if he has never ventured out into the water before.Safety tipsDo not assume that all dogs are natural swimmers. Some of the breeds, like the bulldog, can’t swim and will sink right to the floor of the pool if you toss them in without a floatation device to hold them above the surface of the water. Dogs that have short legs or are lightweight must be fitted with their own jacket or life vest. Bear in mind that too much activity and noise can be distracting. Start practicing in an area that is relatively quiet and make sure that your dog is leashed at all times. You should not take off the leash until your dog is able to swim without any assistance. Never make the mistake of leaving your dog unattended when he is in the water.

Start out slow

When your dog is just starting out, it is best if you begin in a shallow area where you can walk beside him as he learns to swim. Put on the floatation vest, attach the leash and let him get used to having wet feet.If Fido is reluctant, get his favorite toy or training treats to coax him further. Make sure that the tone of voice you use is positive and you offer him a lot of verbal praise when he starts out. Gradually introduce him into deeper waters till he gets used to paddling to stay afloat. If he needs extra support, you can place an arm under his belly. This will give him the incentive to paddle his rear legs along with his front legs.Your dog must learn to use both pairs of legs to swim, or else he will tire easily. Keep supporting him till he’s completely comfortable and uses all of his four limbs. If he seems to be panicking at any point, back him up into shallow waters and let him calm down before he tries again.Once the lesson is over, it is time for you to get your dog out of the boat or pool. Take your time to show him the safe and proper way to exit the pool or boat so that he can find his own way out the next time. Make sure he gets a final rinse with fresh water to get rid of the algae and residual chemicals that might be clinging to his hair-coat.

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