The Labrador Rescue Trust

Getting Your Labrador Used To Water

Swimming, splashing about and playing in safe, clean water can be very rewarding for dogs, who often enjoy swimming because it is fun and different. Swimming can also be a great form of exercise for your dog too, providing a low impact, full body workout that can help to keep them supple and strong. 

Labradors have a long history of swimming and being in and around water, but not all of them are confident around water initially.

Here are some tips and tricks for you to try to encourage a reluctant labrador to swim and enjoy the water, and how to avoid putting them off for good! 

 

Can your dog swim?

Not all dog breeds are physically capable of swimming, and so you should do everything that you can to find out if your dog is among them before you try to fling them in at the deep end! We are going to focus on the Labrador.

 

Introducing your labrador to water

If they have never really seen water, your first step is to find a suitable safe place for them to learn. Pick somewhere a calm, without tides and which has sloping banks so that they can walk in and out of the water without your help. You want them to enjoy this so pick a time of year when the water will not be cold.

Your labrador may leap right in – but here are some tips if they don’t .

 

Gently does it

If they are not quite sure what to do when they get to the water, be calm and encouraging and try to ensure they don’t get scared or discouraged early on.

Keep your first visit to the water short, and just let your dog think about it, so that they will remember the day as fun.

 

Make it fun

Encourage them to dip a toe in by turning it into a game. Throw a toy that floats into the first couple of feet of the water, or paddle in it yourself. You may have to have several sessions before your labrador is confident

 

Don’t expect too much

As with all training, it may take time and patience before your labrador is happy and confident to splash around and play in water. Keep your sessions short and fun with lots of praise.

 

Don’t pressure your dog

Never push your dog into the water, stop them from getting out, or splash them if they are nervous. You need to build your dog’s confidence in water that he/she can paddle in before moving onto swimming.

 

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