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Aqua Dogs: How to Teach Your Dog to Swim

As the summer begins to wind down, and the heat begins to let up, many families will be getting in a few last trips to the beach or lake. And of course, their dogs will be coming too!

But did you know that not all dogs are natural swimmers? In fact, very few breeds are, so while your dog may personally excel at swimming, for most dogs, it is most likely a learned behavior.

Natural Water Dogs

While some breeds are generally more adept at swimming than others, every dog is different. Breeds that have the word “water” in the name tend to be excellent swimmers. This includes the Portuguese Water Dog & Spanish Water Dog, as well as the Irish Water Spaniel and American Water Spaniel.

Other strong swimmers include most retrievers like the Golden Retriever, Labrador Retriever, and Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever, as well as the Newfoundland.

Conversely – there are certain breeds that are simply not designed to interact well with water. Breeds with short legs, such as Dachshunds and Lowchen are not ideal candidates for swimming (although you couldn’t tell my childhood dachshund, Rusty that, and I have the photos to prove it!).

Other dogs that may not fare well in water include the brachycephalic breeds (flat-faced dogs). This includes Pugs, Boxers, Bulldogs, Pekingese, Boston Terriers, and Shih-Tzus.

Doing the “Doggie Paddle”

Even if your dog is bred for water or is enthusiastic about getting in the pool, it is generally a good idea to start slowly. There are several ways to get your dog started in the water. The first is to encourage your dog to enter the shallow end. Once your dog is comfortable in the shallow end, he will be more likely to be comfortable in the deep end.

If your pet is hesitant about wading into the water, show him by example. Try to coax him in by entering the water yourself. By demonstrating that the water is safe, you may be able to elicit a positive reaction from your pet. You can even use a ball, stick, or his favorite toy to help get the process started. See if he will swim out to the item and bring it back to you. Be sure to reward your dog with plenty of praise and recognition if he heeds your commands.

Another way to get your dog used to water is to bring him around other swimming dogs. It may be helpful for him to see other dogs enjoying the water and swimming successfully.

You can also use a flotation device to help keep your dog afloat. This is particularly helpful for puppies and senior dogs who are prone to fatigue.

Remember: Rome wasn’t built in a day – and your dog will probably not learn to swim in a single day either. But with patience and encouragement, your dog can learn to love the water and swim safely.

Until next time, happy BARFing!

Evan Price is a Raw Diet Educator for BARF World Inc. He is a true dog lover at heart with a particular interest in Dachshunds. Evan is also an avid sports enthusiast and bridge player. For more articles like these and to learn more about the benefits of raw food for your pets, sign up for The Intelligent Pet weekly e-zine at www.barfworld.com.

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