How Do I Teach My Puppy to Swim?

Puppy Swim

Note: Swimming doesn’t come naturally to a puppy. He needs your help or he could quickly get in over his head.

Here are some tips for familiarizing your puppy with water:

Know Your Puppy

Some breeds, like Retrievers, Setters and Spaniels, naturally take to water and enjoy swimming. Some breeds, such as Pugs or Bulldogs, should always be supervised around water. They are not the best swimmers, have trouble breathing and can drown easily. Some puppies do not like swimming and should not be forced to go in the water if they are afraid of it.

Start Small

Fill a kiddie pool with enough water to reach the first joint on your puppy’s front leg. Then encourage him by tossing a toy in or getting in yourself. As your puppy gets used to the water, you can work your way up to a larger pool, a lake and even the ocean. IMPORTANT NOTE: “Sink or swim” is not a fun game for children or puppies, so you should never just throw your puppy in the pool.

Wear a Life Vest

Just like children start with swimmies, a life vest may boost your puppy’s confidence as well as keep him safe. Some breeds that aren’t good swimmers may have to wear a life vest forever.

Get Wet

Puppies are very people-oriented, so if he sees your family in the water having fun, he’s more likely to do the same. Plus, your puppy may need you by his side for encouragement when he goes in the water the first few times. 

Follow the Leader

If your family or a friend has another puppy that already knows how to swim, bring him along for the swimming lesson. This will boost your puppy’s confidence, and chances are he’ll learn by the other puppy’s example.

Have Fun!

Praise your puppy with lots of love, attention and toys. The more fun you make the experience, the better the chances your puppy will want to do it again.


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