Dogs are born with strong natural instincts, including barking, digging and being totally lovable to humans. Some people also think that swimming is a skill that all dogs naturally have. Why would they call it the “doggie paddle” unless it was something all canines could do? But swimming isn’t necessarily an innate ability for dogs.
To start a dog swimming, the best idea is to go out in a lake where you can enter the water with your dog. Many dogs will be more confident if you are standing with them if they are nervous about venturing out on their own. Bring a favorite toy with you and encourage them out further by tossing the toy short distances and swimming over to it.
Bring another dog who knows how to swim along to help encourage your pet to try.
Some dogs can be helped by wearing a life vest (dog swimming life jackets). These usually have handles that you can hold onto easily which help in lifting your dog out of the lake.
If your pup goes off and won’t come back, you have two choices; swim out and get them, or wait until they get tired and come back. Never let them off leash and away from you until you know for a fact they will return or start in shallow water where you can go get them should you need to.
Use a two toy approach to retrieving and swimming. Try to make a lot of noise to get their attention and toss it into the shallow water. Tennis balls are not the best choice as they can get lodged in the throat blocking the airway. Try Kong retrieving toys or retrieving bumpers.
If you follow these general ideas to get your dog swimming at your lakefront property, it’ll happen in no time.