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Do Belgian Malinois Like Water (And Can They Swim)? Potential Benefits, Facts & FAQ

Written by: Nicole Cosgrove

Last Updated on May 13, 2024 by Dogster Team

belgian malinois dog in the lake

Do Belgian Malinois Like Water (And Can They Swim)? Potential Benefits, Facts & FAQ

The Belgian Malinois is a world-class working breed known for its highly active personality. If you are the proud owner of a Belgian Malinois, you know that leaving them alone in the yard to run around just won’t cut it. This energetic and intelligent breed needs physical and mental stimulation, and they thrive when they are given a job to do.

When coming up with new ways to expel your dog’s energy, swimming can be fun, interactive, and beneficial for your Belgian Malinois’s happiness and health, but do they like water?

The answer depends on the dog, but with an early and correct introduction to water, your Belgian Malinois can grow up to be a water-loving dog that enjoys a swim when the opportunity arises.

Do Belgian Malinois Like Water?

Some breeds will happily jump into the water without a thought, while some will do whatever it takes to avoid it. Some are also bred as water dogs, and others were bred for land work, like the Belgian Malinois, which was initially bred for herding.

While Belgian Malinois don’t have an inherent love for water or swimming, they are an energetic breed that will happily take on any task they are given and, more often than not, succeed very quickly. They are also a confident breed likely to accept a new experience. They can grow to love water if they are introduced early on in life, and of course, it needs to be a positive experience. Any dog that has a negative experience with water will likely grow up with a fear of it.

female belgian malnois
Image Credit: Piqsels

Can Belgian Malinois Swim?

While Belgian Malinois have the stamina, energy, and confidence for swimming, there are better swimmers such as Portuguese Water Dogs or Poodles. They don’t have webbed feet, which makes swimming a lot easier, but they have qualities that make them stand out. They have tremendous confidence, which will allow them to try new experiences like swimming. They are highly intelligent, so they can be taught to swim relatively quickly. If their owners give them a water-retrieving task, their eagerness to please will help them learn fast.

Belgian Malinois are often solid swimmers that enjoy the water. However, it’s important to understand that each dog is unique and should never be forced to swim. Early training and an early, positive introduction to water are vital if you want your dog to be a swimmer.

How Do I Encourage My Belgian Malinois to Like Water?

If you want your Belgian Malinois to enjoy water and water activities, introduce them to water as early as possible. It is also crucial that this introduction to water is a positive and fun experience that is not forced.

When your Belgian Malinois is still a young puppy, play games at the edge of the lake or pond so that they are close to the water. If you have a pool on your property, play fetch and other games near the pool’s edge. After a few experiences with near water, you can slowly introduce your pup into the water.

Start by gauging how motivated your pup is to get into the water by throwing its ball or toy into the water, where it is easy to retrieve. If your pup goes in without hesitation, you can move on, but if it appears a little resistant, try again another time. You can slowly start getting your pup to run a little deeper to retrieve the toy, and as the water gets deeper, climb in with your dog and hold them if needed.

belgian malinois dog playing in the lake
Image credit: Plotitsyna NiNa, Shutterstock

What Are the Benefits of Swimming for a Belgian Malinois?

Swimming has several benefits for your Belgian Malinois! These can include:

  • Your dog gets a full-body workout.
  • It’s an excellent low-impact exercise that is gentler on your dog’s joints. This makes it great for older dogs or dogs with joint diseases such as arthritis.
  • It’s an interactive exercise that you can do together.
  • It provides mental stimulation, which is essential for this breed.
  • It can be a means to cool off on a hot day.
  • It can be relaxing.
  • It is a great form of rehabilitation therapy after surgery to help recover and build muscles.
  • You will feel more at ease knowing your dog is safe around large bodies of water.

Training Your Belgian Malinois to Swim

Even though your Belgian Malinois is an intelligent and confident canine, you cannot expect them to swim correctly and safely by just allowing them in the water. If you want your Belgian Malinois to be a confident, strong swimmer who loves water, it will require training. Fortunately, they can be trained relatively easily, but you should start as young as possible.

Teaching your Belgian Malinois to swim can be a vital life-saving skill. Here are some tips for training your Belgian Malinois to swim while keeping it safe:

  • Start slowly and gradually introduce your dog to water to build its confidence. The best place to start is a kiddie’s paddle pool.
  • Never force your dog to swim and allow it to learn at its own pace.
  • Ensure the pool has an entry and exit area and your pup knows where they are.
  • Put a life jacket on your pet to ensure they stay safe and afloat.
  • Slowly climb into the water with your dog and let it paddle for a few minutes.
  • As your Belgian Malinois builds confidence, start incorporating its toys, such as throwing its ball and allowing it to retrieve it. The water must be shallow!
  • The more confident your dog becomes, the deeper you can make the water.
  • Keep sessions short so your dog doesn’t get too tired. Some dogs don’t know how exhausted they are, especially when having fun.
  • Ensure you have treats for a reward and praise when your dog does something correctly.
  • Never leave your dog alone in the water! Be by the poolside at all times.
  • Always check the water temperature and the outside temperature. It will be too cold for your pup if it’s too cold for you.
  • Make sure you have fresh drinking water so your Belgian Malinois doesn’t go thirsty after a tiring swim.
  • Ensure you dry your dog’s ears after swimming to avoid infection.
  • When training, ensure your pup is having fun and always ends on a good note.
Belgian malinois dog swimming in the pool
Image Credit: NSC Photography, Shutterstock

Final Thoughts

Some dogs will happily jump into the water with little hesitation, while others may be nervous or apprehensive. This can be due to a past experience with water or the fact that some dogs don’t enjoy being wet. Belgian Malinois were not bred as water dogs and don’t have an inherent love for water. However, they are a confident, intelligent, and energetic breed that can learn to love water and grow up to be a great swimmer.

You should introduce your Belgian Malinois to small bodies of water as early as possible and ensure it is a positive experience. Slowly teach your dog to swim and ensure it is always safe around water. Eventually, swimming can become an activity that your Belgian Malinois will grow to love.

Featured Image Credit: ubaru, Shutterstock

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