Does your dog know how to doggie paddle?
The idea that dogs have a built-in ability to swim isn’t always the case. Some dogs need to be taught to swim…
Just like a child who takes swimming lessons, a canine needs to gain confidence before it can swim comfortably on its own, experts say. Here are five steps to getting your dog’s paws wet:
1. Start with water exposure Get your pup used to water with a spray bottle, a hose or a shallow plastic pool, Hassen says. This ensures that it gets accustomed to the feeling of water.
2. Start at a pool or lake with a gradual slope Your first lessons should take place in a body of water in which your pet can gradually walk in the water with you, Peterson advises. You can promote a positive attitude by bringing toys, such as a ball, and encouraging your dog to retrieve.
3. Move into deeper water with your support As you move into deeper water, support your dog’s backside or belly to help it learn that it can float as it paddles with its paws. Hassen says it’s important that the dog learns to “level out” its torso to actually swim in the water.
4. Help your pup find the exit Once your dog is in the water, make sure it follows your commands to find the exit — be it from a swimming pool or into a boat. Hassen suggests leading the dog gently on a leash.
5. Don’t overdo it Dogs that have not swum a lot before don’t necessarily have the muscle conditioning for a strenuous swim. “If your dog never swam for more than five minutes before, don’t ask it to swim out a mile to a raft where you’re going,” Peterson says. “The dog may be too tired to swim back in.”
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