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Dog Swimming

Natural swimmers? You may think that dogs are natural swimmers, especially when you hear the term ‘dog paddle’.

But swimming doesn’t really come naturally to dogs. Just like human beings, dogs too have to be taught to swim.

So how exactly do you teach a dog swimming? While some dogs take to water, some may need a lot of coaxing.

Here are a few tips to teach your dog to swim.

  • Take your dog to a lake or pool where you can also enter the water. Otherwise, standing near the water and guiding him along on a leash, will also make your pet feel more confident.

    Start near the shallow end. Bring along a favorite toy and toss it to encourage your pet to swim out further. Avoid tennis balls, as these may sometimes get stuck in the throat. You might also use a yummy treat to coax your dog.
  • Some pups may start with a sort of walking gait inside the water. Support their belly while they do this, and wait for their legs to grow strong enough to paddle. Never let your pet off a leash at this stage. This will help you to pull it back in case of an emergency.
  • Some dogs feel more confident if they wear a life vest. You can find swimming life jackets especially made for canines, in the market. These come with handles, to help lift your pet out of the water.
  • Bringing along another swimmer dog may help your pet to follow the other animal into the water.
  • Do reward your dog with treats and praise after it has done a stint in the swimming pool. Also take dog skin care by rinsing your dog’s coat with fresh water to wash out any chemicals or bacteria in the water.
Caution: You may find that your dog loves the water so much, that it refuses to get back on dry land and swims far off. In such a situation, you can get into the water too, and fetch it back, or allow it to get tired so that it will finally turn back. You might also try enticing it back with some special treat or welcoming loud noises.

Benefits: Swimming is a good dog exercise for all breeds, and more so for older dogs who may suffer from arthritis, or may not feel like running around. Swimming would prevent them from becoming over-weight. Dogs with injuries also benefit from swimming, since it is a non-weight bearing exercise.
  Submitted on May 27, 2010