How to Teach Your Dog to Swim

Two Parts:Selecting the spot and preparationTeaching your dog or puppy to swim

Dogs are great at catching balls, and hunting. But, they are also good at swimming, provided they're trained properly. Fortunately, it isn't hard to get most breeds of dogs to swim, with encouragement and help from you. Be prepared to get wet, so choose a warm day for the teaching, and for most dogs, your dog's swimming ability should be awakened and perfected on the same day you first try.

Part 1
Selecting the spot and preparation

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    Find a perfect area for your dog to swim. Choose an area of water that you trust and know to be safe.
    • A shallow lake or lake area is ideal. Or, a pond.
    • Avoid using a river unless you know the spot really well and it is neither fast flowing nor deep.
    • Avoid any water that is murky, contains a lot of plants that could catch your dog's paws or that leads to fast-flowing areas, rips or sudden drops (such as waterfalls).
    • A place that has other people around can be ideal if your dog loves company.
    • Choose a place that allows you to take a dog. Any anxiety on your behalf of not being where you're allowed to be will transfer to the dog.
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    Be prepared. Bring along some familiar gear, such as a ball and some doggie treats to soothe your training dog. Also bring your own swimming gear, as you need to get into the water with your dog to begin with.
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    Know your dog. Some breeds do not like to be in water and some do not know how to swim. Be aware of your dog's breed limitations.

Part 2
Teaching your dog or puppy to swim

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    Get your dog used to the water before trying swimming. Begin by tossing a ball into the shallows of the water. Let your dog run in to fetch it, still able to stand.
    • If your dog goes in the water to get the ball, reward her with a dog treat.
    • Keep repeating the exercise, until you see that your dog is happily familiar with the water.
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    Pick up your pup or dog. Wade out to waist deep water.
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    Hold the pup or dog with one hand under her belly. Place her in the water.
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    Watch for the dog to start stroking on her own when she hits the water. However, keep holding her until she develops a good form and seems steady and sure of her strokes.
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    After a few minutes, point her in the direction of the shore and release her. Start walking to the shore yourself and it's likely she'll follow you. Keep a close eye on her though.
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    Repeat several times. The dog's form will continue to improve and in no time, she'll be a swimming machine without a second thought to what she's doing.


  • It can be helpful to take someone with you to call your dog in when he starts on his own way towards the shore.
  • If possible, a swimming pool is one of the safest places to start training.


  • Do not yell at your dog if he doesn't want to try. Give it a go again later.
  • Some breeds, such as the bulldog and the Havanese, may not swim

Article Info

Categories: Dog Tricks