Do you need to teach your dog to swim? Surely, it’s something that comes to them naturally?
Au contraire! If your dog fell into the water, he would probably start to paddle and therefore manage to stay afloat for a brief period, but the experience might be off-putting. Some teaching can help.
Certain breeds of dogs will be better at swimming that others, depending on their physical make-up. American and English Bulldogs, and Staffordshire bull terriers, for example, tend to have heavy, muscular builds and big heads. Dogs that have short muzzles, such as the boxer and pug and dogs with short legs (Basset and Dachshunds) are all examples of dogs that might not be able to swim efficiently.
Pick an easy place to start. A deep-enough paddling pool or a swimming pool that slopes gently into the water can be the venue for the first lesson. Encourage your dog by getting into the water yourself and taking his favourite toy with you. Keep the dog’s leash on. To make the experience easier, you can dress your dog in a canine lifejacket.
You can support your dog under his belly. He won’t be used to not having his feet on solid ground, so the experience probably feels odd to him. This will also encourage him to use his back legs, as well as the front, making him a more efficient swimmer.
When your dog seems comfortable, try letting go and see if he manages to swim by himself. If your dog seems uncomfortable or panicky at any point, make sure you let him put his legs down. Swimming is tiring so a dog should make the decision about when he has had enough.
Show your dog where to get out of the pool and give him a good shower or rinse to get rid of any chemicals from the water. It might be an idea to give your dog a treat so that he links swimming to pleasant experiences. You should also heap him with praise.
You will probably need to practise with your dog a few times until the two of you are entirely comfortable.