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Can Shiba Inu Swim & Do They Like Water? Safety & Training Tips

Written by: Nicole Cosgrove

Last Updated on April 11, 2024 by Dogster Team

Can Shiba Inu Swim & Do They Like Water? Safety & Training Tips

Shiba Inu are high-spirited dogs, and their playful and adventurous nature is infectious to their owners. They are great companions for hiking, running, and cycling, but what about swimming? Shiba Inu can swim if they are safely trained to do so at an early age. They have a reputation for preferring to stay dry, but with some patience and encouragement, swimming can become a new activity for you to do together and one that your Shiba Inu can learn to love.

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Can Shiba Inu Swim?

Shiba Inu were originally bred for hunting on land, and they don’t instinctively take to swimming. However, Shiba Inu can be trained to swim and can become accustomed to water from a young age so that they grow up to be confident swimmers.

Shiba Inu are an intelligent breed, so they can generally be trained to swim easily. However, it is best to start at a young age. This breed naturally enjoys athletic and social activities, so as long as they are accustomed to water from a young age, they may grow up to enjoy swimming as a form of exercise and a fun way to socialize.

While some dogs learn to swim quickly, others take more time and may be hesitant to learn. If your Shiba Inu has had a traumatizing experience with water, it may be a lot more difficult and may take longer to train as they will first have to overcome their fear of water. However, it’s important not to force your dog to swim.

A wet red-haired Shiba Inu dog
Image Credit: Akim Lakeev,Shutterstock

Do Shiba Inu Like Water?

Shiba Inu are generally known not to enjoy water, but every dog is different, and there may be some factors that determine how much tolerance your dog has for water. It may depend on past experiences with water, how early they were introduced to it, and their current experience with water. As we mentioned, if your Shiba Inu had a traumatic experience with water in the past, your dog will more likely not enjoy the water.

That is also applicable to their current experience with water. For example, they may have been punished by being sprayed with water, they may have been thrown into the water by a previous owner, or they may have trauma from falling into the water. While these things sound unbelievable, they happen, and a dog will generally avoid something that triggers the memory of a bad experience.

While the Shiba Inu’s instinct is to avoid water, if they are introduced to it at an early age slowly and positively, they may become accustomed to it. They are also a social breed, so if socializing over swimming is an option, they may adapt quickly and start to enjoy the water.

Shiba inu dog swimming in a pool
Image By: Lucamino, Shutterstock

What Are the Benefits of Teaching Your Shiba Inu to Swim?

Teaching your Shiba Inu to swim is not only an excellent opportunity to bond, but it also provides these benefits:

  • A great form of exercise
  • A fun way to socialize
  • Keeps your dog’s heart healthy
  • Releases pressure from joints
  • It is beneficial for senior dogs
  • It is an excellent method of rehabilitation after surgery
  • Swimming keeps your dog cool on hot days
  • Your dog will be safer around large bodies of water

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The 3 Tips for Training Your Shiba Inu to Swim

When it comes to training your Shiba Inu to swim, you will first need to get it accustomed to the water.

Here are some tips to follow so you can help get your Shiba Inu used to water:
  • Start introducing your Shib Inu to water at an early age
  • Go slow, and don’t force your dog into the water
  • Have playdates with other dogs that enjoy water
  • Start bath times from a young age
  • Allow your puppy to walk through puddles
  • Slowly bring them into the water with you as often as you can
  • Make sure every experience with water is a positive one

When you feel your Shiba Inu is confident around water and you are sure it is happy to be in the water, you can go ahead and start training your Shiba Inu to swim.

1. Start With a Shallow Pool

When you begin training your Shiba Inu to swim, start in a shallow area. A kid’s paddling pool is best and will help keep your dog feeling safe as it builds confidence. You can start slowly and allow your Shiba’s paws to get wet. Then, you can let them walk in and out of the water so they understand that they can get out when they choose to. You can provide praise and rewards every time your dog enters the water. Watch your dog’s body language and stop if it seems hesitant, tired, or uninterested. Never force your dog in the water.

Bright beautiful red shiba inu dog drinks water
Image By: Akim Lakeev,Shutterstock

2. Switch to a Deeper Pool

As your Shiba Inu gains confidence, you can practice in a deeper pool. As soon as you reach levels where your dog has to paddle, ensure it has a life jacket. Use your arm to keep your dog afloat by supporting their belly. Make sure you keep the paddling sessions short so that you do not exhaust your pup. Again, don’t forget to offer praise and rewards.

3. Provide Toys to Retrieve

Shiba Inu dog swimming in a pool
Image By: GoDog Photo,Shutterstock

As your Shiba’s confidence builds, you can start throwing in toys for your dog to retrieve and start moving to other bodies of water, such as bigger pools, ponds, or lakes. However, it is essential that the swimming area is safe.

Here are some tips for safe swimming with your dog:
  • Make sure the water doesn’t have a strong current
  • Never take your eyes off your dog; things can go wrong within seconds
  • If it is too cold for you to swim, it is too cold for your dog
  • Make sure you always have fresh water available
  • Do not let your dog swim for too long, as they don’t realize how exhausted they are
  • Make sure you rinse your dog after swimming to remove any chlorine or salt

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Shiba Inu generally don’t love water, nor do they hate it. They are not water dogs with a keen ability to swim, but with early training and a safe introduction to water, they can grow up to be water-loving, confident swimmers. It is important to remember that every dog is different; some may love the water, and others may want to avoid it. However, Shiba Inu are highly intelligent and sociable, which can make training them to swim easier.

Featured Image Credit: Trybex, Shutterstock

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