Water introduction tips for your dog

Video how to introduce dogs to water

In these dog days of summer, a fun trip to the lake for some swimming can cool off your pup. However, if your furry companion hasn’t been introduced to the water yet, it’s important to make sure the introduction is a pawsitive experience.

Keep in mind that some dogs are natural born swimmers, whereas others may not like water at all. Regardless of their comfort level with water, it’s important to make their introduction to the water a positive experience to leave them feeling comfortable and happy around water, rather than hesitant and scared.

Leading up to the water introduction

If you are unsure of your dog’s swimming abilities, a dog lifejacket is recommended. Before you go to a beach or lake with your dog, get them used to a life jacket by putting it on them first when no water is present. Keep treats in hand to reward the process. For more info on dog lifejackets, visit our blog How to fit your dog for a lifejacket.

It is a good idea to first introduce your dog to a small body of water. A kiddie pool filled with water can be a great way to begin. Throw a toy or some treats into the water to encourage them to go in while ensuring they are rewarded.

How to enter the water safely
  • When introducing your dog to the water, always make sure they are leashed at all times to ensure that they are safe and staying close to you.
  • Make sure their first introduction is in a shallow area with limited distractions. Always avoid busy areas, loud noises and dangerous waters.
  • Allow them to enter slowly and at their own pace. Tossing a ball close to the shore may help encourage them to dip their feet in first and get rewarded by retrieving their toy.
  • If your dog is still nervous, it can be a good idea to walk into the water yourself and call them to you. This can help show your dog that water is less scary as seeing you in the water may boost their confidence to go in.
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Take precautions and go at your dog’s pace

Never toss, push or pull your dog into the water. Not only is this dangerous, it will also create more fear associated with water. Instead, gently encourage your dog and reward them for every step closer to the water. Continue to reward your furry friend until they become more comfortable with going in.

Make sure to always give them a choice whether they want to go in or not and go slowly at your dog’s pace. Keep training sessions short and always end on a positive note by playing their favourite game, going for a walk or giving them their favourite treat or toy.

Whenever you are taking your dog for a swim, make sure to adhere to water safety guidelines, pack floatation devices or life jackets for you and your dog if needed, avoid fast-moving water and always be cautious around streams with currents.

For more tips on keeping your furry companion safe around water, check out these blogs:

10 tips to keep your pet safe when boating

Cottage safety tips for your dog

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Ethan Smith is a seasoned marine veteran, professional blogger, witty and edgy writer, and an avid hunter. He spent a great deal of his childhood years around the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest in Arizona. Watching active hunters practise their craft initiated him into the world of hunting and rubrics of outdoor life. He also honed his writing skills by sharing his outdoor experiences with fellow schoolmates through their high school’s magazine. Further along the way, the US Marine Corps got wind of his excellent combination of skills and sought to put them into good use by employing him as a combat correspondent. He now shares his income from this prestigious job with his wife and one kid. Read more >>