How to Train a Dog to Swim Up on Command
Swimming with your dog is a great exercise for your dog
to go for a swim or play fetch with one of its
favorite objects in the water. It is a great
opportunity for the two of you to have a lot of fun
But before you can take most dogs out for a leisurely swim
you have to teach them how to swim safely. It is a myth that
all dogs can swim. Most dogs can learn to swim, however not
all dogs can swim right out of the gate, which is why you
should train them and pay attention to their progress at
The best doggie swimmers are usually big dogs such as
Retrievers, Boxers and the like. Breeds that were bred for
swimming like the Labradors and Newfoundlands may be natural
swimmers from puppyhood. The dogs most likely to have
problems with swimming are small dogs with short legs or a
smooched in face which causes breathing problems. Dogs that
aren't able to be good swimmers should wear a doggie life
preserver when it is time for water play.
To get the water fun started you should go somewhere where
it is easy for you and your dog to get into the water
together. It is best if there is a lot of shallow water in
which you and the dog can easily touch bottom. Bring a
favorite toy with you to help entice the dog into the water
and, if things go well, to swim and fetch it back to you.
You can start with your dog in a lifejacket, although it is
not necessary for most dogs. It is also a good idea to have
another helper along with you in case something goes wrong.
Once you get the dog in the water with you, hold its
midsection and hindquarters to allow it to use its legs to
It is important that the dog is using all four legs, if it
is only using two it will sink in deeper water. The correct
swimming position for a dog will look like it is running;
neck and shoulders up and head up. It may help if you have
treats to get it into the correct swimming position. The
simple human "doggie paddle" swimming method is called that
because most dogs will swim that way instinctively.
Hopefully your dog will be one of that number.
Continue this lesson until it seems comfortable. Once your
dog has the hang of it you can start using the voice command
"swim." You should use this when the dog gets into the
water. This will clue it in that when it hears that word it
is time to hit the water. We hope you and your dog will have
many happy splashes!
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