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How to Teach a Dog to Swim

How To Teach A Dog To Swim

Swimming is an important and valuable skill for dogs so they can stay safe while enjoying their time in the water. These tips from experts will help you with teaching a dog how to swim.

How To Teach A Dog To Swim


Can all dogs swim? That’s a question many pet owners often consider when introducing a dog or puppy into a home with a backyard pool and when enjoying an active, outdoor lifestyle. While most dogs love to swim, getting them into the water for the first time can bring many challenges, as it’s important to ensure they’re safe while also having fun in the water. If you want to learn how to teach a dog to swim but don’t know where to start, some top pet and pool experts share their tips on the best ways to teach swimming for dogs. Then you and your furry friend can enjoy a safe and happy experience in the water and try out different water activities together.

Use a controlled environment

When you first start to train your dog to swim, Canine Cubby suggest that starting in the right environment is essential. Founded in 2006, Canine Cubby – Activity Centre for Dogs offers a safe and stimulating environment where dogs can enjoy learning to swim and experience the benefits of hydrotherapy. Canine Cubby’s founder Donna, is a boxer breeder and found that dogs could be helped by hydrotherapy just as much as humans. That’s why she set up Canine Cubby to benefit dogs in Loganholme, Qld and the surrounding areas.

The benefits for your dog

Swimming is a great low-impact exercise, which can be highly beneficial if your dog has suffered from an injury. However, if your dog doesn’t know how to swim properly, they may panic in the water and do more harm to themselves. Dog swimming lessons will enable your pet to be calm and confident in the water and it will also help to improve their movement and flexibility. It’s a fantastic form of exercise to help them recover quickly from injury and assist in preventing any further injuries from occurring.

Top tips

Your dog should first learn to swim in a controlled environment, such as a hydrotherapy pool, where there are no currents or waves. A large object, such as a plant pot or umbrella, should be placed at the exit of the pool so your dog can easily find the way out, as they generally can’t see over the edge of the pool. You could also consider using a ramp, which may be easier than steps when entering and exiting the water.

Be patient and continue to offer plenty of encouragement and rewards – it could take five or six sessions for your dog to feel truly comfortable in the water.

Swimming at home

The experts at Mr Pool Man know all about how great it can be for the family to include dogs when enjoying the pool at home. What started as a small family business, originally set up in a garage on the Central Coast of NSW, Mr Pool Man has become one of Australia’s leading and most influential pool retailers, specialising in all aspects of pool and spa equipment.  

The benefits for your dog

There will always be times when we are not able to supervise our dogs. While there are dog swimming pools available, many Australian homes now have their own built-in pools, and this can present serious dangers for a dog who is unable to swim, as they could jump in while chasing after a toy, or fall in accidentally. A fence surrounding a pool also protects your dog from falling into the pool and struggling to swim. Unfortunately, accidents happen. Your dog might not know how to swim to safety and we may not be there to rescue them when it happens.

Top tips

Introduce your dog to the water slowly – let them do everything at their own pace. Never  push or pull your dog into the water as this could scare them and have a lasting effect for life.

If you have a friend or neighbour whose dog is a strong swimmer, invite them around to your place. Your dog may be more tempted to try swimming themselves if they see another dog enjoying the water, but make sure that you are also there to hold them afloat until they get the hang of it.

Make it rewarding

Ensure that when you are training your dog to swim, it is a rewarding experience for both you and your pet. As experts on dog training, K9 Pro The K9 Professionals, owned by Steve Courtney, operates on a dedicated seven-acre facility in NSW, providing dog owners and handlers with services and products to make training, rehabilitating, competing and living with dogs easier and more enjoyable. The team has worked with dogs of all breeds and ages, including teaching puppies and dogs to swim.

The benefits for your dog

Swimming can be great fun for dogs if they’re taught properly. While most dogs have the instinct to swim naturally, some have to be taught to enjoy it as an activity. Once this has been achieved, you can use swimming as a great recreational activity, exercise, rehab and sport for your dog.

Top tips

You can motivate your pup to swim by having a helper to hold them at the water’s edge while you go into the water first and cross to the other side. Ideally, the water should only be half a metre to one metre deep. Once you reach the other side, call your dog and show them food or a toy. Your helper can then let go of your dog, or keep them on a long leash if necessary. Most pups will eventually run into the water to get to you, and will usually have to do a few swimming strokes and cross to the deeper section of the pool so they can reach you. Then you can give them the reward. The more you practice this technique, the easier your dog will find it to enter the water each time.

Take it in small steps

As it is with any dog training tricks, the best place to start is small. With their extensive experience in dog training, Four Paws K9 Training has been operating since 2001 and is a Victorian Government Approved dog-training establishment with six locations around Melbourne. They offer group puppy and dog obedience classes and provide specialised assistance with dog behavioural issues. So when it comes to dog training, they really know what they’re talking about.

The benefits for your dog

Swimming is a healthy form of exercise for dogs, as it keeps them fit without putting a strain on their joints and bones, making it a great activity for older dogs especially. Swimming regularly also helps dogs to maintain a healthy body weight through exercise.

Top tips

Ideally, you should start to train your dog to swim as a young puppy, and always keep their safety in mind. You should also get in the water with them when they’re learning to swim.

Your dog should start by getting their paws wet a few times before entering the water. Sessions should initially be kept very short, and you should support your dog as they learn to paddle with all four legs.

Guide and assist them

Another important thing to remember when training your dog, is that you need to be involved in the whole process. As a family-owned pet care business, the Links Pet Centre has been operating for over 40 years and they are experts in helping to train dogs. They offer a range of services for pets throughout Brisbane, including pet boarding, dog training and grooming. Six years ago, they opened their Canine Aquatic Centre to provide hydrotherapy for dogs.

The benefits for your dog

A wide variety of dog breeds suffer from joint and muscular problems, some of which tend to require surgery. Combined with the right veterinary care, swimming is a highly-effective form of rehabilitation, which helps dogs to get back to their best. It can also ease the symptoms of common dog conditions such as arthritis and hip dysplasia.

In addition, swimming can have a highly-positive impact on your dog’s appearance, so it’s ideal conditioning if you’re getting your pet ready for a Dog Show.

Top tips

A bouncy vest is a really useful device to use at first to help keep your dog afloat during the training process. A retractable collar and long lead will also help you to teach your dog direction and enable you to lead them around the pool.


While teaching your dog to swim can be a difficult type of training to navigate, it not only keeps them safer and healthier, but it also provides a great new way for you and your furry best friend to have fun together. That way, both you and your dog can enjoy quality time in the water together, especially during the hot Australian summers.

Got a pet health question?

If you have a question on anything from parasites to pet health, ask us we don't bite!

Call The Advantage Pet Care Line on 1800 678 368.

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- ↓ -

Got a pet health question?

If you have a question on anything from parasites to pet health, ask us we don't bite!

Call The Advantage Pet Care Line on 1800 678 368.

Advocate for Dogs

Advocate not only treats parasite infections, but monthly treatment can help protect your dog against fleas, heartworm and gastrointestinal worms.

Treats
Fleas, Mites, Lice, Worms

Dogs with Arthritis

- ↓ -

There are several things you can do to help your arthritic dog be more comfortable