How to Teach Your Dog to Swim

Some breeds of dogs, like beagles, can swim on their own. Dog breeds like bulldogs, basset hounds, pugs, and dachshunds must be taught how to swim.

Even if the dog has the ability to swim, it does not mean he loves it. All dogs prefer to stay on dry land. Never force your dog to swim; it is not a good idea.

If you have difficulty teaching your dog how to swim, you can enroll him in a dog swimming lesson.
Read moreStart training your dog.

Important Things You Need to Keep in Mind

Before you and your dog get into the pool for padding lessons, ensure he likes to be in the water.

You need to be patient and progress at your dog’s pace. Rushing him could cause delays. A continuous pace can help you assess how fast your dog can learn to swim. Have fun; you and your dog should find the process to be enjoyable

Your Dog’s Training Materials

The first step is to train your dog to like the water first. Before you start the training, you will need the following – a swimming pool for dogs, a target stick, your dog’s favorite toy, treats, a clicker, a dog’s life jacket, dog’s ear wrap, an ear dying solution, and sunblock.

First Step the Kiddie Pool Time

The first thing you need to do is to convince your dog to get into the water.

Introduce your dog into the kiddie pool without water on it. You can place a target on it to get your dog’s attention.

Use your clicker to get him into the pool, and give him some treats for getting in the pool.

Repeat the click-and-treat process until he becomes comfortable with doing this. Then train him to get out of the pool by using shaping. Call him out of the water to do the shaping steps again. Do the going in and out of the pool a few more times.

Add Water to the Pool

Now that your dog can go in and out of the pool using your clicker, you can slowly add some water to the pool.

He might hesitate to get into the pool once he sees the water. As your dog goes near the pool, give the cue and see if he goes in. Repeat the shaping process if he is not going in by clicking and treating.

You can get inside the pool and invite your dog to go in. If he follows you and gets into the pool, give him some treats.

Throw some floating treats into the water, and have fun with your dog by letting him find the How to teach your dog to swimtreats in the water. This will help him realize that water is fun and that there are fun things that will happen each time he will get in the pool. The treat-throwing game also teaches your dog how to blow bubbles out instead of taking in the water if he goes underwater.

This is the end of the introduction to water, the first part of your dog swimming lessons.

The third Step is the Left and Right Lesson

Add more water into the pool, maybe another inch or more, and repeat step 2.

Continue giving him the treats each time he gets into the pool. Throw some treats into the pool and let him look for them. You can also use his favorite toy and have him fetch it in the water.

While your dog is in the water, teach him to turn left, right, and into full circles.

Teach your dog how to follow a target. You can place the target a few inches to the right or left and do the click-and-treat process for every correct response.

Teach your dog to go into complete circles and then click and treat him again for correct responses. This step is important to help your dog find his way out of the water in a real pool. You can easily cut him left or right where the ramp or steps or another exit may be to get out of the water.

Add more water inch by inch and repeat the three steps until your dog becomes more comfortable in the water.

Once he knows how to swim in the kiddie pool, you can start teaching him how to swim in the real pool.

If you are having a hard time getting your dog into the pool, then maybe you can ask the help of an expert and enroll him in a dog swimming lesson.

Do you have any questions? Did I miss out on something? Leave a comment, and I’ll get back to you!

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Jacquelyn Kennedy

PetDT was founded by Jacquelyn Kennedy, a dog lover and pet admirer. She built the website to provide pet owners with information, experiences, and opinions on breeds, temperament, personalities, health, nutrition, products, and care.