Summer is here! It’s time for swimming and anything else that helps us stay cool. Here are some tips for teaching a dog to swim.
1. NEVER use the “sink or swim” method where the dog is thrown in the water. This is inhumane, frightening and can result in a dog who has a fear of swimming (and you).
2. Don’t assume all dogs can swim. It’s a myth that all dogs are born swimmers. Some need training and others, in particular those with short legs and proportionally heavier bodies (think Bassets, Corgis, Dachshunds) may sink. While there are dogs of these body types that can swim, be very careful.
What you should do:
1. Use the behavioral procedure called ‘shaping’ to teach swimming. Shaping means baby steps. Start with low water if possible (a lake) and gradually let the dog get into deeper water.
2. If you’ll be starting your pup’s swimming lessons in a pool, consider using a canine life vest until your dog is a reliable swimmer.
3. Teach the most important lesson first-how to get out of the pool. Put the dog a few feet from the steps and say, “go to the steps,” or “get out.” Then back up a few steps and repeat, and finally practice “go to the steps” from different places in the pool. A helper can stay on the steps, call the dog and reward him for coming.
4. Always supervise dogs when they are swimming.
Have you taught a dog to swim? Do you have any other tips?