Dog Swimming: How To Make Your Companion Love The Water

When people think of dogs, they frequently think of them swimming. People have a mental image of dogs paddling there way across the water using the strength of their paws and legs. This mental image leads some people to believe that all dogs know how to swim. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Dog swimming comes more naturally to some breeds of dogs than others. 

You can train all types of dogs to swim, though. If you want to make sure that you and your dog can enjoy some time together around water, here's how to make your pet fall in love with the water.

Can Your Dog Swim?

First, it's essential to figure out if your dog is one of the breeds that tend to have a stronger swimming ability than others. If you have a water spaniel, golden retriever, Labrador Retriever, or a Newfoundland, then you have a dog that likely knows how to swim on its own.

On the other end, if you have a bulldog or boxer, there's a good chance that they don't know how to swim and will never be able to swim well. 

A dog's swimming ability comes from the size and strength of its limbs. When you think of a golden retriever, for example, you probably think of long legs and healthy paws. That trait makes them fantastic swimmers! On the other hand, a bulldog's legs are incredibly short. They cannot generate enough force from them to keep their disproportionately large body afloat. 

Other dogs fall somewhere in the middle. For example, a chihuahua can be a good swimmer, but they tend to be frightened a little more quickly, which can cause problems. Interestingly, despite its short legs, a Corgi can swim, although they are not water dogs by nature. What their legs lack in size, they make up in strength.

Dog Swimming: Teach Your Dog To Swim!

If your dog is one that is known to like water or is known to tolerate water, then the next step is to teach your dog to swim! There are a couple of ways to accomplish this. You can train your pet yourself, or you can have someone give them dog swimming lessons.

Get a dog swimming pool and a life vest if you elect to train your pet yourself. The process of teaching a dog to swim is very similar to that of teaching a young child to swim. Make sure the water is warm and comfortable. Don't make their first experiences bad ones! Put the life vest on your dog to ensure no accidents happen and increase confidence. Then, slowly ease them into the water. You can use a toy to lure them, or you can pick them up and help them. If your pet can feel the bottom of the pool, there's a good chance that they will willingly start to wade in themselves. The purpose of this part of the training is to get them used to water.

When the water is deep enough, your dog will likely have some instincts that will get them to start paddling their legs. You can help them with this motion as well. With the life vest on, you can safely see how well they can keep themselves afloat. If they seem to have strength in their legs and be enjoying the experience, you can leave them out there. If they begin to look tired, take your dog out of the pool and try again later. Learning should be fun!

After you see that your dog can swim on their own, you can try them in the pool, supervised, without the lifevest. If your pet can keep its head afloat and swim, you've taught them this potentially life-saving skill!

Transitioning To Bigger Bodies Of Water

Of course, dog swimming in a pool isn't as much fun as doing so in a lake or ocean. If you can do so, consider finding dog-friendly swimming lakes and other places for dogs to swim so that way your pet gets the exercise and continues to practice their skills. Generally speaking, dogs love to swim in these larger bodies of water, so you should have no issues getting them to want to go out!

Dog Swimming Is A Fun Bonding Activity

Many owners bond with their pets when teaching them to swim. You may get lucky and have a dog that knows what to do the moment you put them in the water, but you should know that that is the exception, not the norm. Most dogs need some training before they can swim correctly. Luckily, with your assistance, you can make your furry companion love the water! 

Of course, if you would prefer to have a professional teach your pet how to swim, many places offer dog swimming lessons.

Can all dogs swim?

No. Not all dogs can swim, although most can with enough training and guidance. The breeds with the shortest non-powerful legs fare the worst. An excellent example of this is a bulldog. They have a large body with small legs and find it very difficult to swim.

Do dogs know how to swim?

Some dogs, like the water terrier and golden retriever, know how to swim even without being taught. It's an instinct. However, the vast majority of dogs do not know how to swim well without some guidance. Some of them can keep their head above water, but many times they need to become familiar with the water so as not to panic and go down. For this reason, if you have a dog that can swim and expect to be near water with your pet, you should strongly consider helping them learn to swim. It might save their life!

Can Chihuahua dogs swim?

Technically, yes. However, a Chihuahua is not a natural-born swimmer. As such, it will take a little bit of work. Additionally, chihuahua dogs tend to become frightened reasonably quickly, which can interfere with swimming activities. Therefore, if you do own a chihuahua, please teach them to swim or take them for some dog swimming lessons.

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Written by Leo Roux

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