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Hi, I'm new to forums. I would like to know if anyone has any ideas on how to get a timid dog to swim. I went to a few local dog swims this month and my dog was too timid to do anything but put her feet in the water. Can anybody help.
 

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With my dog Pip, who loves to fetch from the water but didn't always like to swim, I just kept throwing the sticks slightly farther and farther out into the water. At first, if they were far enough out that he would have to swim, he would just stand and bark at them, but eventually he went after one and now he loves to swim.

It took two whole summers to get him to where he would swim. I think it's important not to force them and not care too much if they ever even swim or not, then everything is very low-pressure.
 

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Thanks for the reply. I see it takes lots of patience. My dog is a Labradoodle so I thought she would naturally take to the water. Maybe, a cute life jacket would make her feel more secure. Does anyone have any comments about dog life jackets?
 

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I have a retriever who should also love the water. When we first got her, she would swim a little, but lacked confidence to do any real swimming. Like sassafras, we slowly threw the sticks farther and farther out. She loves to swim now. It took about a year to get her confidence up. Now she'll come out just to swim with me!
 

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My medium sized lab/pitbull mix was afraid of water, but my new puppy is becoming more acclimated to it. He didn't like water at first during his first shower/bath in the tub, but afterwards, now follows us to the shower and wants to participate.

Eventually, he began walking between the jacuzzi and pool while we swam and fell in a few times, supervised of course, where he naturally began to dog paddle and is beginning to learn how to swim. This dog enjoys water though, unlike my older dog which we acquired when he was 2.

Seems easier to teach a pup to swim than an older dog.
 

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go in with them. We were told our GSD probably wouldn't like swimming - I waded in and called her in, played with her, fetch etc in the shallows.... now we can't get her out of the water.

We are lucky to live 20m from a nice lake and 10mins drive from a dog beach though - might be harder for landlubbers.

lucky country indeed :)
 

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I just picked my dog up, carried her into about a foot of water, gently put her in, and let her swim back. After doing this a couple of times I kept her on a leash and made her swim around for a bit before returning back to shore. Now she can't get enough of the water.

Not recommending that you or anyone else do this. Just saying what worked for me and what I would do again.
 

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I think I explained a method a while back on Inga's thread. I also think I took some heat for it. But it works.

Let me put it this way. If the dog is in the water, is supported by you, and begins kicking its legs, it will realize it can swim. MOST dogs will like it.
 

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When I first introduced Bear to water, I got in ahead of him (in a pond) with him on leash, and slowly coaxed him along with me. He seemed a lot more confident that way because he knew that if he wanted/needed to, he could swim right back to me (I was never more than a couple of feet away) and I'd hold him up. I got a bit scratched up, but now he loves going into the water, even without me. A lot of dogs really like to have you there for that extra support when they're still learning the basics.

I wouldn't consider carrying a dog into the water to be "forcing" him. If he's kicking and screaming, then yeah, but I don't see anything wrong with taking your dog out a few feet and dipping him in.
 

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give your hubby a treat and then put your husband in a long sleeved t shirt in the water about 6 feet from the shore and then toss the dog into the water and hope he swims... jk... kinda.... don't know of any dog who just runs to the water and jumps in without some sort of urging and hoped reward.
 

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go in with them. We were told our GSD probably wouldn't like swimming - I waded in and called her in, played with her, fetch etc in the shallows.... now we can't get her out of the water.

We are lucky to live 20m from a nice lake and 10mins drive from a dog beach though - might be harder for landlubbers.

lucky country indeed :)
That's what I did, too :) With my small dogs, I picked them up and took them with me until the water was up to my knees and let them swim back. Then took them a bit farther out each time until I was up to my shoulders in water. It was like classic backchaining...if they learned the last part (swimming TO shore), the first part (swimming FROM shore) kind of fell into place :)
 

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Discussion Starter #12
My dog also fell in our pool and seemed to be doing just fine. I'm thinking sometimes that she just isn't interested and that's why she won't go in farther. She is very smart but has a stubborn streak. Or maybe becomes bored easily.
 

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I used jealousy to get Nash to swim, took all of 5 minutes. Lloyd came to us loving to swim. Nash wouldn't go in the water, so I tied him to a tree. Played fetch with Lloyd in the water for about 5 minutes, at this point Nash was screaming because he wanted the toy. I unhooked Nash, tossed the toy in, he went and got it. Now he loves water and gets in it any chance he gets. He is a german shepherd though, not sure if this would work with breeds who aren't as possessive over "their stuff".
 

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It helps if another dog is there that is a companion who likes to swim. I like the idea of throwing a stick a bit further in each time, you could even try tossing a treat in a little bit further at a time. Good luck, let us know how it goes!
 
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