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How do you get a dog to jump into a swimming pool to swim? Our dog has been exposed lots of times to a special bone-shaped doggie pool that's used for play and therapy. But while all the other dogs would go leaping in to catch the fetch toys, she just stands on the ledges where the water is ankle-deep or races around on the deck. She won't go in the water to get the ball or to swim. She did fall in once but made a beeline for the side to crawl out. Same thing with the ocean - she'll only go in up to her chest and then comes back to shore.

How do you encourage a dog to swim? We've tried all the obvious things (tossing in her favorite toys, calling her into the water with treats, slowly introducing her, having her play with other dogs who are plunging in, etc.). Nothing has worked.

We'll have an opportunity to get her swimming coming up and I'd like to see her try it. Any thoughts on how we should go about it? How do people who participate in dock diving get their dogs to do it?
 

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How do people who participate in dock diving get their dogs to do it?
Those are mostly Labs and a few Chessies. It would probably be a tougher job to keep them from doing it.

The usual way to get a dog to swim where it can't touch bottom is in someplace quiet with calm waters. Make sure the water is warm enough and that there is a gradually sloping, firm bottom to walk out onto. Then you just get in the water and make yourself irresistable. A couple of the dog's favorite people may add some attraction to the activity, and another (non-rowdy) dog friend sometimes helps. But keep it low key and no horseplay. You're just looking to get her to come in a little deeper than the last time. If she will lie in water that's up to her shoulders, while you sit next to her, that's a good thing too.

If she does voluntarily swim out, be prepared to put your hands under her for support. For the real nervous-Nellies, you may want to get a neoprene dog vest that has flotation. It's all about increasing confidence.

This is all best accomplished when they are puppies, but some few dogs never get really comfortable in the water. I don't know if that's because nobody ever took the time to acclimate them to the water...or what. But every dog I've had has loved to swim. Mixed breeds, Great Dane, Rotties, Golden, all of 'em.
 

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How do you get a dog to jump into a swimming pool to swim? Our dog has been exposed lots of times to a special bone-shaped doggie pool that's used for play and therapy. But while all the other dogs would go leaping in to catch the fetch toys, she just stands on the ledges where the water is ankle-deep or races around on the deck. She won't go in the water to get the ball or to swim. She did fall in once but made a beeline for the side to crawl out. Same thing with the ocean - she'll only go in up to her chest and then comes back to shore.

How do you encourage a dog to swim? We've tried all the obvious things (tossing in her favorite toys, calling her into the water with treats, slowly introducing her, having her play with other dogs who are plunging in, etc.). Nothing has worked.

We'll have an opportunity to get her swimming coming up and I'd like to see her try it. Any thoughts on how we should go about it? How do people who participate in dock diving get their dogs to do it?

I simply carried my puppy out about 10 feet and let her swim back. Once she knew she could swim and get out with little effort, I couldn't keep her out of the water. Still can't, even in the middle of winter.

BTW: If she had panicked while carrying her out, I would have found another way.
 

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Thanks. I think sitting calmly next to her in the shallow end could work. We have a week to get her to do it, so keep your fingers crossed! It's funny, she loves the water otherwise. We have a kiddie pool she loves to play in and she's always up for a game of bite the water when I turn the hose on. And she stands outside the shower watching the water come down like it's the most fascinating thing. So I know it's not the water that scares her. Must be the lack of footing in deeper water. Or the reflection - I've heard that can put some dogs off because they can't see into the water.

KaseyT - I wish I had thought of doing that when she was a puppy. I think it would have worked for her. But now she's 65-70 lbs and well beyond carrying weight!
 

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Same thing with the ocean - she'll only go in up to her chest and then comes back to shore.
My old neighbors had a Chow/BC that wouldn't get his back wet; if he did, he'd spazz out and rub himself all over the ground trying to get it off. It was hilarious... then they got a GSD pup, and he did the same thing (probably b/c the other dog did it. ) it was funny because they loved the water so much... haha. I know that didn't help any, but... I just wanted to share that. :D
 

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My last three dogs have been great swimmers, but Esther is the first that will actually dive into the water with no guarantee that she'll be able to get out easily.

The rest were beach swimmers and would absolutely not jump off a boat or dock or poolside.

I don't know whether Esther is brave or just a hound.
 

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Is she food-motivated? Cooked hot dogs float.

I would also start treating for her current ventures into water (if you aren't already), even if they are only ankle- or chest-deep.
 

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KaseyT - I wish I had thought of doing that when she was a puppy. I think it would have worked for her. But now she's 65-70 lbs and well beyond carrying weight!
Some of the neoprene vests they make for hunting dogs have a suitcase handle for pulling the dog back in the boat. That can help a dog who gets wiggy about not being able to touch bottom.

For a dog who has a strong retrieving drive, you gradually throw a ball or bumper out in the water until she is swimming. If they are interested enough in the bumper, they don't even notice that there is no bottom. Don't try to push too fast, though. This really qualifies as a rational fear.

Here's my li'l stinker at 8 weeks old:
 

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My old neighbors had a Chow/BC that wouldn't get his back wet; if he did, he'd spazz out and rub himself all over the ground trying to get it off. It was hilarious... then they got a GSD pup, and he did the same thing (probably b/c the other dog did it. ) it was funny because they loved the water so much... haha. I know that didn't help any, but... I just wanted to share that. :D
That's funny and interesting all at once! Would love to know why they did that.

My last three dogs have been great swimmers, but Esther is the first that will actually dive into the water with no guarantee that she'll be able to get out easily.

The rest were beach swimmers and would absolutely not jump off a boat or dock or poolside.

I don't know whether Esther is brave or just a hound.
Well that's good to know. Having seen so many dogs with absolutely no fear of leaping into the doggie pool (real one - 4 ft deep for therapy) or off boats, I thought maybe Poca was unusual in her deep water avoidance. Maybe it just comes down to the right motivation?

Is she food-motivated? Cooked hot dogs float.

I would also start treating for her current ventures into water (if you aren't already), even if they are only ankle- or chest-deep.
That made me laugh! I never thought of floating hotdogs. Great idea. Although I have a mental picture of a sea of floating hotdog parts and Poca standing on the side thinking, "Oh man! I like hotdogs but what the heck is holding them up in the air?? Ain't no way I'm falling for this one!!"

Some of the neoprene vests they make for hunting dogs have a suitcase handle for pulling the dog back in the boat. That can help a dog who gets wiggy about not being able to touch bottom.

For a dog who has a strong retrieving drive, you gradually throw a ball or bumper out in the water until she is swimming. If they are interested enough in the bumper, they don't even notice that there is no bottom. Don't try to push too fast, though. This really qualifies as a rational fear.

Here's my li'l stinker at 8 weeks old:
8 weeks! That's awesome. And some drive! Poca seems to have no natural retrieving drive, although she will do it to get treats. Maybe I haven't trained her well enough. She's bonkers for tennis balls though, esp after they get wet in the kiddie pool. She'll jump in after them every time. I'll try incremental tosses with that in the big pool and see how it goes. I know I can get her into the shallow part immediately. I'll work from there and see if I can inch her into swimming with progressively longer throws. And I will try hotdogs!!!
 

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For a dog, it's a literal leap-of-faith to jump into water without an obvious means of exit. (In that sense, they are smarter than SCUBA divers like me who jump off the side of a large boat and worry later about how to get out again.)



I worried, when I got this big stock tank, that Ester would have trouble getting in an out. It's not a problem.



I had an Irish setter mix when I was teaching SCUBA. She accompanied me to all the classes. When we were in the pool or on a boat trip, she would pace while I was in the water and worry that I wasn't coming back. When we had beach trips, though, she was right in there with us.
 

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For a dog, it's a literal leap-of-faith to jump into water without an obvious means of exit. (In that sense, they are smarter than SCUBA divers like me who jump off the side of a large boat and worry later about how to get out again.)



I worried, when I got this big stock tank, that Ester would have trouble getting in an out. It's not a problem.



I had an Irish setter mix when I was teaching SCUBA. She accompanied me to all the classes. When we were in the pool or on a boat trip, she would pace while I was in the water and worry that I wasn't coming back. When we had beach trips, though, she was right in there with us.
I just think if people would go to lake/pool etc and ignore the dog they would be in the water etc. I never realized that so many people worried about dogs going into the water.
RonE like your setup on hot days it's aqua dog heaven, don't got to worry about heatstroke with that program.
 

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Update....Well after day 1 at the pool, no luck. She'll go in up to her ankles but jumps right back out again. I've tried progressively longer throws with the tennis ball but it's not working. Tennis balls are her favorite thing in the whole world. She'll do anything to get one. But she seems a lot more worried about us being in the pool than she is attracted to the tennis ball. 5 more days to go....
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Update: Damn!! I was so excited. Poca was finally acting like she was ready to make the leap into the pool and I was standing by acting like hey, no big deal, watching to see if she would do it....when I spotted the big fat sign on the fence saying no pets allowed in the pool. Rats!! Dumb, dumb rule. Later on went back in the house and finally read the rules book for vacation renters...clearly says no dogs allowed in the pool area and if any pet hair is found in the filter etc. we'll get charged an extra fee. Since she's now shedding like a maniac, prudence won out. Oh well. There's still the ocean....
 
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