Dive into Fun: A Step-by-Step Guide on Teaching Your Dog to Swim

August 09, 2023 in Dog

Does your dog love splashing around the water and wagging their tail in delight? Swimming isn't just a joyful activity for dogs; it's a full-body workout that helps improve cardiovascular health and strengthen muscles. It's also a valuable skill to make their splashing and rolling in the water safer.

Dive into Fun: A Step-by-Step Guide on Teaching Your Dog to Swim

Teaching your dog swimming skills makes a great time for you to build a stronger emotional bond with your furry friend! But can all dogs swim? That's something not all owners are aware of.

If that applies to you, read on to find out your answer and tips on training your dog to swim.


Do dogs know how to swim? If yes, which ones?

There's a myth that all dogs know how to swim right from birth. Some may have a natural tendency to swim and great physical characteristics that make them better swimmers, but some breeds aren't born with swimming skills.

Breeds that can swim are:

  • Labrador Retrievers: Most Labrador Retrievers are born with webbed paws and water-resistant coats. These breeds are generally good at swimming.

  • Portuguese Water Dog: This breed also has webbed paws and waterproof coats. Long ago, the Portuguese used them for fishing and water rescue.

  • Newfoundland: This breed of dog is larger and is an excellent swimmer. Newfoundland dogs have a water rescue instinct which makes them great lifesavers. They also have physical swimming attributes such as webbed paws and a thick double coat.

  • Chesapeake Bay Retriever: They are powerful swimmers with retrieving abilities in the water. They were originally used for retrieving waterfowl. Chesapeake Bay Retriever has a water-repelling, dense, oily coat.

If your dog isn't a natural swimmer, doesn't have swimming-friendly attributes, or doesn't know how to swim, here's what you must do before jumping into the swim lessons:

  • Gradually introduce the dog to water so they can feel safe and comfortable

  • Select shallow areas for training the dog

  • Use positive reinforcement training to instill confidence in them

  • Never force them into the water if you see signs of fear or anxiety in your dog

  • During the swimming, supervise your dog and, if necessary, take safety measures (e.g., a life jacket)

How to Teach A Dog to Swim?

If you decide to train your dog in swimming, you must first learn the basics. Can dogs swim in pools? Or should I go to the nearest shore? Questions like these might cross your mind. The tips below will help you understand how to teach your dog to swim safely.

Choose the Right Environment

When you're just starting the lessons, start in a controlled environment. You need a water body like a hydrotherapy pool with no currents or waves. Your dog swimming in pool is helpful at the beginning when they could easily panic from touching the water.

Generally, dogs can't see over the edge of the pool. It's important to place a large object at the exit so they can easily find their way out. Use something like a potted plant or umbrella.

Using a ramp instead of steps is better for entering and exiting the water

Offer many rewards and encouragement during the lessons, and continue the training patiently.

You might need five to six sessions to introduce water to your dog and make them comfortable. These lessons will help your dog remain calm and confident in the water while improving their flexibility at the same time.

When You Have a Swimming Pool at Home

Many homes have swimming pools, posing a potential threat to dogs who cannot swim. Accidents can happen as there won't always be someone to watch the dog.

Teaching your dog to swim is important so they don't need rescuing when falling in the pool. As mentioned above, you must introduce your dog to the water gradually.

If possible, invite a friend who has a dog that can swim pretty well. Often dogs get excited and try to swim independently when they see another dog having fun in the water. But make sure you supervise the whole training.

Training with Rewards

If you can have another person in this training, this can be enjoyable for you and your dog. Ask your helper to hold the dog at the edge of the pool. Then you go into the water, crossing to the other side. Once you reach the other end, call your dog, showing them a toy or treat.

Now tell your helper to let go of the dog. For added safety, you can keep the dog on a long leash. In most cases, dogs get tempted to swim across the water for rewards. Once they swim to you, reward them. Try to practice this technique as much as possible to make your dog become a powerful swimmer.

Keep Your Dogs Healthy

Being a pet parent is challenging when your dogs can be sick or injured or have other physical or mental issues. Forever Vets offers many experienced veterinarians and medical care services for your beloved dogs. To keep your dogs healthy and happy, schedule an appointment today!