With the recent heat wave across the UK it was the perfect time to get some water work in with your trusted companion as well as helping to keep your dog cool.
Allowing your four-legged friend to have a splash in some water is a great way to get them introduced to water crossings in preparation for the working season. However, before you let your dog loose in the local river please make sure your dog is a capable swimmer or you are prepared to assist them.
Many owners believe that every dog is a natural swimmer; this is not always the case. Most dogs may instinctively try to dog paddle when immersed in water, this doesn’t mean they can swim or stay afloat. Even if your dog is a breed that is known to be a confident swimmer this doesn’t necessary mean they will have the natural ability to swim or the confidence to do so.
If you plan to introduce your dog to water for the first time it’s important that you start the process off slowly. Don’t rush into it and assume your dog will naturally know what to do. Your first goal is to discover whether your dog enjoys the water, if they take to it then you can begin to build their aptitude for swimming.
One method to get your dog used to water is by simply throwing a dummy or tennis ball into the shallows; allow your dog to fetch the retrieve. Once they retrieve it and bring it back reward them with a ‘good dog’ or a treat, depending on your chosen training method. Keep repeating this until you see that your dog is becoming more confident and relaxed within the shallows of the water. You should never drop your dog into a body of water at first flight, even if it is a recognized swimming breed.
Once you know that your dog has the feel of shallow water, gradually allow them to swim out a little deeper. Get your dog used to obeying different commands in water. Praising their swimming is important for their development.
For a dog that is over shy of the water or a bit nervous to venture into the deep, an alternative method is to enter the water yourself, this recent weather it would have been a welcomed cool down for you too! Hold your dog until they develop a good form and are steady with their strokes. Having you there will reassure your dog that they are safe.
There are many other ways to introduce your dog to swimming, just as long as you don’t rush the process and pressure them into swimming from the get go, allow them to learn steady, at their own pace, this will build confidence and before you know it your trusted friend will be a confident swimmer and confident to retrieve from the water.