Contrary to popular belief, not all dogs like water. Many are afraid of water and its vast uncertainties, and if your pup gets scared at the sight of even a kiddie pool filled with the wet stuff, there are some things you can do about it. Here’s how to help your pup overcome his fear of water.
Consult a professional
The best way to help your dog become used to being in water and swimming is to find a doggie swimming pool and a dog trainer who specialises in coaching dogs to swim. If this isn’t possible, at least aim for a dog-friendly swimming area with few distractions. If all else fails, a kiddie pool in the backyard works just fine.
Don’t force your dog into the water suddenly. He could panic and never feel confident in the water if you do this. Instead, start by offering treats from the water’s edge, luring your dog closer to the water (via a ramp so your dog doesn’t have to enter the water suddenly) until he’s ready to get his paws wet. In a kiddie pool, you can do this until your dog is happy to stand in a few inches of water, then you can add water at each subsequent session until the water is as deep as you need it to be.
Don’t force it
Never push a dog into the water or drop them in. Chances are, your dog will panic and sink like a stone. Instead, make the practice fun. Use treats and toys to lure your pet into the water. If your pet goes to the edge of the ramp but isn’t ready to get in the water, try calling him into your arms or simply pick him up and bring him into the water with you. If he is tense, do not proceed. He may panic and scratch or bite to get away. If he is calm, walk into the water while keeping his head above the water and speak in a soothing voice to help keep him calm.
Use a flotation device
Life Jackets aren’t just for people–they can keep your pet safe while he’s finding his ‘sea paws.’ Use a vet-approved life preserver made for dogs when you are going to be out in deep, open waters. You can get your dog used to wearing it while he’s in the pool so he’ll know how to move with the life preserver on.
With a little planning and forethought, you can help your pup swim without incident in most any environment during the hot summer months. We love our pets and want them to be with us for as long as possible, and the above tips will go a long way to ensure their safety.