Summer time is in full swing, and if you think it’s hot, imagine how your dog feels with that thick coat of fur. A great way to cool off this time of year is to find some water and let your dog go for a swim. (Practicing a few retrieves isn’t a bad idea either.) But what if your dog is afraid of the water? While swimming and retrieving may come natural to some dogs, others need a little boost of confidence to get there. In training our own dogs, we’ve found a few ways to ensure every dog falls in love with the water, right from the get-go.
Introduce water as early as possible. While your puppy is still young and learning other tricks, go ahead and get them into the water. Put dishes or bowls in front of them that they can splash around in, and if you have an older dog who’s used to swimming, this can be helpful to show your pup what to do.
Use still or very slow moving water. The point is to not scare your pup. A river may be closest to you or most convenient, but the current can sometimes make it difficult, especially if your pup is having trouble figuring out how to swim.
Find somewhere the dog can enter and exit the water easily. A small and gentle slope is best. This eliminates the fear of needing to jump into the water, and it’s possible you may need to give them an extra boost of confidence by getting into the water yourself.
Keep it fun. Throw a few small retrieves to get your pup used to the idea. If you keep it less challenging and fun from the beginning, your dog will be more willing to jump in for the tough retrieves in the long run.
Don’t throw your dog into the water! Remember, the point is not to scare your pup. One scary incident can cause them to hate the water forever, and that’s a tough thing to face when a retrieve is needed in a marshy or water-filled area.
If you can keep water activities calm and fun from the beginning, your dog is sure to be a water-lover for life – keeping them cool in the summer and retrieving in the fall.
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