Teach a dog how to swim

bonebloodyidleDecember 31, 2011

I thought this was instinct, that all dogs could do the 'doggy paddle'. Obviously not.

Out walking in the woods this afternoon my boxer picks up the scent of something and follows it down a steep muddy bank that neither of us can get back up. Only way out is to cross the river. I wade in and the dog follows and sinks to the bottom, makes no attempt whatsoever to swim or keep her nose above the water. I had to carry her across the river over my shoulder.

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No, it really depends on the breed and how much exposure your dog has had to water. Dogs that are considered water dogs like Labs or Retrievers have bodies that are fattier and won't sink. A Boxer is very lean making it very difficult for him/her to float. I know Labs even have a web of skin in between their toes for paddling. Boxers also have a shorter nose which makes them more vulnerable to inhaling water. In haling water is scary for humans, for a dog sinking in a lake, it would be very traumatic.

I understand in your situation your dog had no choice but to enter the water. I don't know how old he is but the older the dog, the more difficult it could be to teach it to swim especially after a negative experience. If it is older it may not be worth the mental anguish and if it is younger, you may want to first consult with a professional trainer before attempting to teach him yourself.

    Bookmark   January 1, 2012 at 2:38PM
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OH no! That's scary! I also thought it was instinct because my poodle, when I'd take her to the beach, would start paddling her little legs if I was holding her and she was nowhere near being actually in the water...HA! I guess for her, it was instinct? Good to know that not all dogs can swim! YIKES!

    Bookmark   January 2, 2012 at 5:41PM
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Have a feeliing that swimming is a natural/survival instinct that would kick in if REALLY needed?!?

Last dog was a great/goofy red DObie. When she was maybe 3-4 months old (ears still taped up), we set off on a road trip from NJ to WV mountains to spend some time in the woods at sister's great place. She had a lab that could find water if it was MILES away! We pack outselves up to let her do a little retrieving in a nice little pond nearby. Of course, she was already in the water WAITING by the time we walked over. My pup was standing, ankle deep, waiting for her to come to shore. My sister threw the retrieving "dummy" as far as she could and her dog was off like a shot... with my pup right behind her! I KNOW she had NEVER been around water before... soon found her self in a bit over her head!! Looking desperate and FLAiLING around with her huge puppy paws. I knew she wasn't drowning, but sister waded in, grabbed collar and hauled her onto the beach. She waitied on shore and repeated the process several more time... got a little better at the swimming part, but not a breed especially known for aquatics!?!

    Bookmark   January 3, 2012 at 5:51PM
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Fori is not pleased

My dopey dog ran into a pool when he was about 7 months old. Swam great but needed help getting out. I was pretty relieved. I did NOT want to go in there after him. It was cold. Guess I'm lucky he's a swimmer? (He's supposedly a chow/German shepherd/pit bull combo--no webbed feet.)

    Bookmark   January 3, 2012 at 11:06PM
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Same goofy Dobie just WALKED into neighbors pool one time! Wife started SCREAMING for husband... dog is drowning! NOT! She was actually on tip toes clinging desperately to the side. I tried to caox her into going to shallow end where she coulda just WALKED up steps and out, but she was havin' none of that. Coulda jumped in with her, but didn't want to get clawed up by a panicked dog. SOOO, grabbed her "wrists" and she just walked up side of pool with hind feet. Once out of water, shook off and did a little TA! DA! Thank goodness pool was cement and not one with a liner or I'd probably still be paying that repair off!

    Bookmark   January 4, 2012 at 3:49PM
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As you've found out, dogs may put themselves into a situation where they absolutely need to know how to swim.

Our Toller (small retriever) just couldn't get it when he was young, but in his case he was afraid to "lift off" into deeper water - he would just wuss around in the shallows barking at the big guys further out. So we started taking him to the town boat ramp which had a long, very gradual incline with a very firm bottom. We just tossed the ball or stick a tiny bit further out until one day he just kicked off and was swimming - sort of - he was upright, treading water, making a huge ruckus. It took him a few more tries to get the hind legs under him and the butt up, but he's an absolute champ now.

Hope you can tutor your guy too - good luck!

    Bookmark   January 5, 2012 at 2:23PM
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