Teaching a Puppy to Swim

Running, catching, leaping; this is the forum to discuss dog sports and agility training with other active pups!


Barked: Thu Jun 13, '13 1:29pm PST 
We live pretty much in Clemson SC, which has its own beach on Lake Hartwell. We've introduced Oberon to wading in shallow areas which he seems to like, something I did not expect from a collie at all. I figured "he probably won't like water, but it can't hurt to see what he does." Clemson the college owns a particular stretch of lake that's public and dog friendly (I checked with the school before going), went down there, and it is dog person paradise. People cleaned up after their pets, there were docks, sandy entries, dogs happily playing, and lots of green space up by the rowing team's building. I waded in with a long leash to let Obee choose whether or not he wanted in..and in he went! He even played some with another puppy his age and size.

So now I'm going to try and make a regular outing of this, but I want to do so safely. First off is I want to have a long lead because Oberon is only 13 weeks old; I think it's asking for trouble to expect he'll stay near people all on his own or remember what "come" means with all that distraction. Would it be better to use a 30-50 foot training lead or a Flexi lead? I want him to have enough freedom to move, but also technically on leash so he can be reeled in. We have a water retrieving toy he retrieves in the house and yard, so having enough space for fetch would be important to me.

Secondly I'm wondering if I should get Oberon a life jacket now, knowing that he will probably outgrow it? He's right at 21 inches around the biggest part of his chest and weighs 21.5 lbs, but he'll definitely hit 50 pounds and possible as high as 65 pounds as he grows.

We're also going to Edisto Beach in August if that helps any. I figure if he likes it (And only if he likes it) that we'll practice swimming and dealing with water between now and then so he's prepared when we go.

If you have any thoughts on teaching puppies or dogs to swim, I'd still love to hear them.

I dig in mud- puddles!
Barked: Thu Jun 13, '13 1:34pm PST 
My first thought is that if you are going to be using a long line in water, do find one that floats. You don't want it to become entangled around his legs or on something at the bottom.

And if you can't find a long line that floats, just buy rope that floats and make your own. Make sure that there isn't a knot or loop at the end to avoid entanglement hazards.

Live. Bark. - JUMP!
Barked: Fri Jul 19, '13 12:59am PST 
I had my mom train my dog swimming in my cousins pool using a life jacket and he did pretty well! I couldn't do it myself because I can't swim red face I have a knee deep creek by my house and take him there all the time! He usually stays near the shallow parts. I'd suggest taking him there and getting him comfortable with it and soon you can even throw sticks in there once he's older and he'll chase after them! My friend trained her dog how to do that and my mom's old dog Maggie used to do that too. Good luck and have fun training Oberon!

Alva BH

I ordered the- best dog for me- & got her
Barked: Fri Jul 19, '13 6:36am PST 
By my experience, most dogs are natural swimmers, yet some of them do not like it. Probably there are also dogs that are structurally weak to be able to swim without aid. I would allow the puppy to wade in the water and watch his/her reactions to it.

Alva doesn't like to get wet and she did not swim. She is born in September 2009 and so she did not have access to open water before May 2010. Then we were atour summer place where we have a short "beach". I, my father, Alva and Pipsa the water dog mutt walked towards the lake, dogs off leash. I told my father: "Do NOT throw anything into the water, do NOT throw anything for either dog, I do not want Alva to get scared by water because she has never seen a lake before and you know how she'll run after Pipsa!"

What he does... Picks up a stick and before I can do anything he throws it into the lake. Pipsa rushes after it and of course Alva isn't far behind. Alva is too deep in the water before she realises that she is no more on dry ground. Obviously, she could swim naturally as any dog, but she did not like the experience.

I wonder if that experience prevented her to swim earlier, but I am pretty sure she doesn't like getting all wet by nature. She likes to wade and fetch sticks from the water as far as she has not to wade any further than her belly gets wet. One or two times in a summer I leashed her and walked her into the water, so deep that she had to swim. It was clumsy and nasty because she only wants to swim back to the shore. I wondered if she needed some floating aid to make swimming more pleasant for her...

Our summer place is a peaceful place and thus our dogs are off-leash there. They can decide freely if they want to swim or not. Pipsa and Tinka needed no training to swim. They are naturally attracted to water and love to swim that much that they swim in circles without having to fetch anything. But I have heard of dogs that love so much swimming or swim after a duck or something that they swim too far and get too tired to return.

Last weekend, something happened. Alva SWAM. On her own, with no forcing by me or anybody else or any aid. My brother had assembled our dock and I threw sticks to the dogs on it. Pipsa loves to jump from it into the water and fetch anything thrown into it. Tinka was just swimming circles some meters away from it. Alva was harassing me on the dock, trying to make me to throw something for her into the shallow water. Somehow, at some point, I was teasing her with a stick, splashing water with it. She went into the water to get at it. It was too deep to be reached without swimming. To my surprise I saw when her feet left the water bottom and started to kick and paddle. Immediately I gave the stick to her and she returned to the shore. I repeated this many times and she swam around the dock. I even recorded it with my phone, but the cord that connects it with my computer is missing so I cannot show it.