Teaching your pup to swim

January 18th, 2018

During summer, spending time in a pool, river, or the beach is one of the best ways to cool off. It is made a whole lot better when we can do this with our four-legged friends. However, not all dogs take to water so easily, many have to be taught a few basic lessons before they dive on in and paddle around. Petcover will take you through some tip and lessons that you can do with your pup to get them ready for the hot weather.

Safety first

Some dogs such as the Labrador and water spaniel are natural swimmers. Bulldogs and pugs, on the other hand, are not as graceful in the water. With this in mind, purchasing a flotation device (even if they’re natural swimmers) is a great investment as it reduces the risk and allows the dog to learn while holding them above the water.

A lifejacket for your pup is ideal especially if they have short legs, are lightweight, or will be accompanying you around deep waters. Some other safety tips include:

  • Never leave a dog unsupervised while swimming
  • Watch for signs of exhaustion
  • Rinse your pet off with fresh water if you have been in salt or chlorine water as it can irritate the skin

Start off slow

The biggest mistake many pet owners make is the old ‘they’ll be right’ attitude and throwing their pup into the water for their first swim. If you do this, it can thoroughly scare your furry friend and you run the risk of scarring them for life. The best way to start your puppies swimming lessons is by starting off slow in a quiet area where there are no other distractions around.

A quiet stretch of river is best as it allows the dog to get used to the water but still be able to have their feet touching the ground – unlike a swimming pool where there is a large drop-off. Have them fitted with a life jacket and their leash attached as you slowly walk towards the water, allowing them to be in charge of how quickly they take it. You can help out by introducing a toy that will help coax the pup into the water.

The more comfortable your pup is in the water, the deeper you can take them. Be sure to help out by encouraging them as well as supporting them with your hand under their belly to keep them afloat. As they gain confidence you can ease off on the help, however, you still need to be close by in case they panic.

Post-swim routine

After the lesson has concluded, show your pup the correct way to exit the pool, boat or river. River and beaches are pretty self-explanatory, however, showing your puppy where to get out of a pool or boat is key as they will know for next time. Giving them a lot of praise and attention is a great reinforcement – you can even give them a few little treats so they associate fun and positive times with swimming!

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