How to teach your dog to swim

If you’re a fish born into a human body, loving to spend time over the water, then you may want to adventure into the big blue with your best friend.

I bet dog swimming lessons wasn’t on your agenda. Dogs are not innate swimmers and need teaching just like you and I. That way we can keep them paddling by our side for many more years to come.

In order to take your dog into the water, you’ll first have to get them used to the open water and teach them how to swim. As well as this, you’ll need fail-safe PFD’s (personal floatation devices) specially designed for your furry friend.

I’m here to walk you through the basics on how to teach your dog to swim. But, first, I’ll touch on other subjects that are very important in this process such as doggy life-jackets!

Know where you’re going to take your best pal

It’s important to consider where you’d like to take your dog. This could be in a lake, on a boat, into the open ocean or just on the shore.

Knowing this, will allow you to teach your dog what to expect, as well as suggesting which PFD’s you’ll likely use.

Many people believe that all dogs are born with the ability to swim, but most need to be taught. So, if you’re planning on taking your dog out into the water and letting them jump off the side of your boat, you may want to so consider taking them for lessons, first.

If you’re taking your dog to the beach, then it is wise to be prepared with the correct PFD but allow them to take to the water one paw at a time. Many dogs love to stay on the beach and splash in shallow water, but not necessarily go deep, let them take the lead.

Should your dog use a life-jacket and which would be the best one?

In short: yes. You should always have a life-jacket for your best friend so that you are prepared for any scenario.

Even if your dog is paddling on a beach, they could get swept into the current and taken out to sea. If your dog has not learned to swim, or they get too tired, then they will need a floatation aid.

I believe in having at least two forms of PFD for yourself and your best friend. This means your dog will have a life-jacket and a throwable device if it needs one to grab!

Even if your furry pal is a pro in the water, there can be times where their journey from the boat to the water is anything but optimal. A boating accident caused by engine issues, a collision or stormy weather can cause your dog to fall off the side of the boat.

On the way to the water – if they fell or if they jumped – they can hit any manner of things on the way down or become unconscious. These can badly affect your dogs’ ability to swim.

So, even after you have taught your dog to swim, it is important to strap them into their life-jacket for safety!

As a final point, dog life-jackets have handles on them, making it easier for you to pull the dog out of the water and back onto the boat or to shore.

Here’s some examples of types of pet PFD’s on the market:

  • Ruffwear Float Coat
  • Paws Abroad
  • Vivaglory Sports
  • Outward Hound
  • Baltic Mascot Pet Buoyancy aid
  • Crewsaver Petfloat

How to teach your dog to swim…

Now, as long as you have a pool for dogs to swim, I’m going to tell you how to teach your dog to be a swimmer with confidence using 5 easy steps.

First, you’ll want to introduce your dog to some calm and shallow waters. This could be in a nearby stream or paddling pool. Allow them to choose to go into the water and perhaps coax them with their favourite toys without throwing them. This way it can be a fun experience for your fluffy friend to splash around instead of being forceful.

When you see them becoming tired, you can encourage them to come to the water’s edge where you can help them. This enforces associations of you being a point of safety for them.

Secondly, you’ll want to take training one step further by throwing the toys for them to catch and retrieve. The dogs will slowly get accustomed to putting their snout and head underwater.

Thirdly, you’re onto deeper waters. There’s two parts to this step and the first is getting the dog used to the life-jacket. I suggest purchasing the vest a few weeks in advance and getting them used to the feel of the jacket on land before allowing them to submerge.

Once you and your dog are comfortable with the life-jacket, let them into deeper water. Even if the water is not very deep, you want the life-jacket on-hand in case your dog gets tired. While we know to face the sky and lie still, our doggy friends don’t!

The fourth step is finding a larger body of natural water. This could be a river, a lake or the sea. And, you’ll need to get wet for this part, too! Jump in with your dog and take their favourite toys. Stay close to let them know you’re there as some may swim to you.

Try to play around with the toys, getting them to swim, fetch and return to you in the water at longer distances so they are more comfortable to swim.

Your dog should be having lots of fun at this point and I believe it’s important to read your dog. If they appear distressed, tired or unwilling to swim, take them home and try again another day. Not all dogs are water-loving hounds.

You’ll blink and you’ll be at step five: letting them out into the great wide open. Even if you’re confident that your dog is a strong swimmer, it’s always important for them to have their life-jacket on in case of an emergency.

And, now you have found out how to teach your dog to swim and be safe while doing it.

Be sure to keep up-to-date with the latest technologies in pet safety and water health. if there is a new life-jacket better suited to man’s best pal, make sure you are first to know. Have fun in the great wide open!

How We Work

Floating somewhere is more like a curated collection of articles than a blog. You may have noticed we don’t have any ads or other distracting junk. Floating Somewhere is supported by our readers, if you buy something we recommend, we sometimes get an affiliate commission – but this doesn’t affect the price you pay nor the items we suggest.

Be a part of Floating Somewhere

Get emails with new posts and absolutely no spam.

Latest Blog Posts