How To Teach Your Dog To Swim

How To Teach Your Dog To Swim

Most dogs possess the ability to swim but that doesn't mean that your pooch will automatically be keen to get wet! Or to be the canine Michael Phelps! Many dogs naturally love the water, others need a little more help to pluck up the courage to get wet. Some dogs never learn to enjoy the wet stuff.

Water Babies

Certain dogs have been bred for water rescue and activity. These animals are generally excellent swimmers and also tend to thoroughly enjoy the water. Water loving breeds include retrievers and spaniels, such as the Labrador, golden retriever, the American water spaniel, Irish water spaniel, and the Portuguese water dog. These breeds have powerful back legs which are great for swimming.

Hounds which Struggle to Swim

Smaller breeds, such as Chihuahuas and the Maltese terrier are able to swim, but may quickly become overwhelmed in large areas of water. They may tire quickly and could be prone to panic as they become aware that they are struggling. Breeds with large, boxy chests and short legs such as basset hounds find it harder to swim and flat faced dogs like pugs might struggle with their breathing when trying to swim. Having said all this there are no hard and fast rules. Your pooch may be built perfectly for swimming and yet struggle with it or prove to be terrified of entering the water. Dogs, like people, are individuals.

Gentle Introductions

Most dogs will initially be wary of water. If your pooch doesn't gallop into the local lake or river with enthusiasm, you will have to offer a little encouragement to get them to dip their toes in the water. What you should not do is throw them in at the proverbial deep end! Introduce your dog to the water gradually and they just might learn to love it. Start by encouraging them into the water by throwing a ball or stick near the edge. Once your dog is used to getting its paws wet, encourage them to venture a little further out. When they are clearly comfortable getting wet, you can tempt them out of their depth to see if they are happy to swim. Teaching your pooch around other dogs which love the water can help with a nervous dog's confidence. Never force your little treasure into the water, it has to be their decision or they will be put off for life.


If your dog is nervous of the water or a poor swimmer, they can still learn to enjoy a paddle and that can be useful on hot days if they need to cool down. Even the most competent swimmers can run into difficulties so don't let your dog swim unsupervised. A doggy life vest is a good investment if your pooch will be swimming in the sea or large areas of open water and booties will help them to walk on hot sand or areas with jagged rocks. Is your pooch terrified of water or do you share your life with an amazing swimmer?

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