When it comes to owning a dog, there are so many things that you’ll need to think about. One of the most basic and essential things is how to train your dog to swim in the pool. Let’s examine the various methods of teaching your dog to swim and which one to choose based on your needs and circumstances.
With every breed, there are some basic training methods that work well and others that don’t. Traditional methods of training try to give the dog the skills they need to be happy and safe in their environment. Some of the more popular traditional methods include:
- Paddling – Using your hands to provide resistance as you push the dog in the pool.
- Drowning – Putting the dog in the pool with all their weight so that they can’t get out.
- Holding their nose underwater – While this may sound cruel, it’s actually a means of ensuring that the dog takes in as much oxygen as possible.
- Shaking the water out of their ears – Once the dog has learned how to swim, you can gently tap their ears or shake them to help clear the water from their ears.
- Using a whistle or splash guard – While this might seem like an effective way to direct the dog’s attention to what’s going on in the water, many dogs find the sound of a whistle or splash guard to be disturbing.
- Using an electric shock prod – Similar to a cattle prod, these devices are meant to be used on dogs only when necessary and only for a short period of time.
- Chilling the water – After a few weeks in the pool, you can gently dip the paws of the dog in cool water to make them more relaxed.
For many years, animal trainers have been developing ways to make training easier and more fun for the animal. Some of the more modern methods that have emerged include:
- Luring – Putting down some tempting treats near the pool to call the dog in for a swim. When they come in for a drink, you can reward them with the treats. This will help to establish a consistent training pattern and encourage the dog to want to swim more often.
- Whistling underwater – If your dog is extremely sensitive to sounds, you can use your whistle underwater to help direct their attention to what’s going on in the water. This is a useful technique for dogs that are wary of other creatures or environments that make a sound.
- Laser therapy – Aiding in their healing with a low-intensity laser pulse can help to reduce stress and anxiety in animals. While there are no published studies that confirm this technique, many animals enjoy the feeling of warmth that the laser provides and many owners report beneficial results.
- Swimming in the company of a dog trainer – Working with a professional dog trainer will greatly increase your chances of successfully training your dog to swim. Dog trainers are qualified to help you decide on the best method of instruction for your dog and can take the pressure off of you, easing the burden of learning to swim. Their experience will put you at ease, knowing that your dog is in good hands.
- Treat dispensers – Like the lures mentioned above, you can also use food dispensers to encourage your dog to come in for a drink. Many dog owners find that the additional treat variety helps to establish a healthy appetite, further reducing the chances of the dog becoming obese. Additionally, you can use food dispensers to reward your dog for staying in shape and working out.
- Playful splash guards – Similar to a dog whistle, you can create play sounds by slapping the water surface with your hands. You can use this to direct the dog’s attention to what’s going on in the water or simply as a fun game to play with them.
- Inflatable playmate – Similar to a water balloon, you can use an inflatable playmate to engage with your dog while they’re in the pool. As the playmate gets fuller, it rises to the surface to create more buoyancy, keeping your dog afloat and making it easier for you to play with them.
- Waterfall pool – Constructing a pool that descends gradually into the water is a great way to make sure that your dog is always seeking fresh air. As they swim down the fall, the rush of water will feel good on their fur, helping them to stay cool. They’ll also enjoy the additional scope for play that the waterfall pool offers.
- Submerging platforms and stepping stones – By placing a floating platform or stepping stones in the pool, you can create a safe area for the dog to rest and enjoy a drink while still being close to the water’s edge. The submerged area provides additional insulation from the heat of the sun, keeping your dog cool even on the hottest days.
- Eco-friendly natural materials such as wood and leaves – You can use materials that are easily biodegradable in your outdoor cooking area to create a safe haven for your dog. Many species of wildlife will use these materials for nesting, making them essentially indestructible. Moreover, the green materials assist in reducing your dog’s dependency on plastic.
- Underwater heat lamp – The heat from an underwater heat lamp will not only be felt by your dog, but it will make them more energetic, further reducing the chances of them becoming overweight. The additional physical activity will also help to keep their joints lubricated, preventing arthritis and other degenerative conditions as they get older.
Choosing the right method of teaching your dog to swim is a matter of understanding the breed and temperament of the animal. Some methods are better suited to certain dog breeds than others, so take this into consideration before committing to any one method.