Having a pool can help your whole family beat the heat, dogs included! Some dogs are natural swimmers, like Labrador Retrievers, Portuguese Water Dogs and Poodles. But even if it doesn’t come naturally, most dogs can learn to enjoy swimming. So what’s the best way to get started? Here are a few training tips that you can follow to teach your dog to love the water!
Tip 1: Find a friend. In high school peer pressure is bad, but in this instance, it can be a good thing! If your dog is the sociable type, then finding a friend with a water-loving dog and inviting them over for a pool party may do the trick! Play with your friend’s dog in and around the water to show your dog that pools are fun, not stress-inducing.
Tip 2: Try a toy. Many dogs love to retrieve. And if you’re playing with their favorite toy in and around the pool area, they may be likely to dip a paw in the water to fetch it. In this instance, it’s important to remember to take things slowly. Instead of throwing the toy right into the deep end (which may cause your dog to balk at entering the pool) try tossing the toy no farther out than the first step. When your dog puts his feet into the water, try a rousing game of fetch out on land for a few minutes and then repeat. When your dog stops hesitating at putting his front feet in the water, toss the toy a little farther so he has to put all four paws into the pool. When your dog is comfortable with this, try going for the glory of a full blown throw!
Tip 3: Step into your own suit. Sometimes a dog will be more apt to dive in if her owner is in the pool with her. Get into the water and coax your dog to come to you, praising and swimming with her if she joins you. If your dog is hesitant, carry her into the pool and hold her securely to try and help her along while a friend gets in with you to praise and treat your dog for calm behavior.
Tip 4: Don’t throw! It’s important to remember to never throw your dog into the pool. While this may seem like the easiest way to get him to swim, tossing him into the deep end generally causes more anxiety around the pool than not. While your dog may be able to physically swim out of the pool, tossing him in will likely not teach your dog to love swimming and may even damage your recall cue, making him more hesitant to come to you when you call him in the pool area.
Even if your dog never learns to love swimming, there are other fun summer activities that you can do together to stay cool. . . like eating pupsicles on the side of the pool or playing in the sprinkler!