Swimming is a great activity to indulge in with your dog. Not only does it refresh and relax their mind, but it also helps them stay cool during the summer. It is also a great way to strengthen communication and spend quality time with your dog.
It is not a difficult task to teach a dog to enter the swimming pool, but it does require a great deal of patience. Younger dogs tend to pick up on things faster than older dogs.
Never force your dog into the water as it may scare them for life. They may start feeling suffocated and trapped. Your pet should feel like entering the swimming pool by themselves.
One more thing to consider is to keep the water clean. Check the chlorine and pH levels of the water, as your dog may be sensitive.
The by-products of these disinfectants can be toxic to humans as well as dogs. Therefore, making the pool ‘swim-ready’ is important. Keep checking and cleaning the filters for dog hair.
For dogs, 5 minutes of swim activity is equivalent to five-mile run, so why waste our time, lets take our pooches to the swimming pool.
We help you understand how to get your dog in the swimming pool. (Check our list of The Best Swimming Pools for Dogs)
1. Calm and Relax Your Dog
Understand your dog’s mood. If it is in an aggressive mood, it may not be a good day to teach it to enter the swimming pool. Your pet is surely going to be nervous if he is entering the pool for the first time.
Caress your pet, speak to him, give him words of motivation and confidence. Talk about how fun swimming can be when you both do it together. Speak to them about the pool, its structure, and the water. Dogs understand and relate to human emotions.
While you do so, leash your dog so you can control their movements when they try to enter the water. Do not forcefully pull them. If they feel irritated, try some other day.
2. Treat and Praise
Take hold of the leash and gradually walk them towards the pool. Do not directly let them jump into the water. Allow them to take slow steps and treat them at every step they take towards the pool.
Praise them when they take a step. You need to decide on the treat based on what motivates your pet. It could be their favorite toy, a chew treat, etc. As long as the treat instills your pet to walk towards the pool.
Your pet should be able to associate the treat giving with entering the pool. This will make them feel more happy and confident in their activity until it becomes a habit.
3. Train and Supervise
Now comes the main task, getting your dog to the edge of the pool. Gently pull them by the leash towards you. Continue offering treats as they keep approaching closer and keep the praises going.
You can try by sitting or standing at the edge of the pool and placing your legs on the steps one at a time. Explain to your dog while you do so. Meanwhile, you can get your dog close to you while still not letting him enter the water.
A dog owner has to be very gradual and patient while teaching. It does not happen overnight. Make your dog feel like this is an achievement for the day and they have accomplished a task.
4. Repeat, Repeat
Continue the above step, only this time, while you place your feet into the water, make sure your dog follows suit. While doing so, you may have to help by placing your dog’s front feet onto the steps in the water.
Reward them with lots of praise and treats and repeat this if your dog feels like doing it. This task will help them understand how to enter the pool.
As days and weeks pass, you can continue doing the same, but increase the number of steps they take until they enter the pool like a pro.
5. Escape Route
After your dog has entered the water, you may now have to stand in the pool and command your dog to move in the water so they get the initial essence of swimming. Keep this short as your dog may not be used to staying in the water for long.
Once done, command them to turn back to you where you would stand at the exit with the treat. Place the treat near the stairs and pull them gently through the leash so they know where they need to head to.
Keep calling them towards you, while they swim back to the stairs or ramp. Help them place their legs if they cannot manage else gently pull them towards the edge of the pool while you keep moving out too.
Once your dog moves out with you, reward and praise it with a treat. Repeat steps 4 and 5 until you are confident enough of your pooch.
6. Remove the Leash
With weeks of practice, your dog should no longer require the leash. You can try by unleashing him and giving him commands towards the pool. If he responds well, with minimal mistakes, then your dog just got better.
You can now command them without controlling with the leash and give them treats for accomplishing their task and being obedient. Practice this for a few weeks and you and your dog are swim-ready.
Swimming with a companion is a wonderful experience. And when that companion is your pet dog, there is nothing more enthralling than that. Dog lovers and dog enthusiasts want their dogs to enjoy every activity that they indulge in.
However, it requires an immense amount of patience and training to get your dog into the pool. Some dogs learn easily, while some dogs may take time. It is not impossible to train your dog to enter the swimming pool.
Just as any new activity requires interest and motivation, dogs also require an element to motivate them. Look out for what your pet likes or what motivates them.
It can be a food item or a treat ball or a toy. But the treats should be such that it is worth the effort made.
You have to make your pet well versed with the structure of the pool. Be careful of not leaving them alone for long hours in the pool else they can feel scared and panicky.
If at all they feel so, they should be well versed with the entry and exit routes for which they need to train with you.
Pool steps or dog ramps facilitate easy climbing and exit from swimming pools. They also ensure safety in your absence and help your dogs enter and exit the pool independently.
If your dog faces any mishap or falls into the water accidentally, then it can escape easily and not drown. A good dog pool float can also be useful.
Keep their swimming time short and monitor your pet while it swims. Swimming helps you in building a good rapport with your pet and at the same time keeps your pet healthy and happy.
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- How Hydrotherapy and Swimming Can Benefits Dogs – PetMD
- Dogs and Water Safety – WebMD
- Teach Your Dog to Swim – VCA Hospitals
- Keep It Cool This Summer – Texas A&M University
James Wilkinson joined DogLovesBest as a full-time writer with the objective of offering his insights on how to rear pets better. He shares the information through the experience he has gained over a span of 15 years working as a dog trainer. James also used to contribute regularly to several pet publications during his career as a trainer before joining this website. He also donates a portion of his own personal wealth to shelter abandoned animals in Gainesville, Florida and helps in finding a new home for them.