How To Teach a Dog to Swim in a Lake

Teaching your dog to swim in a lake can be a fun and rewarding experience for both of you. But before you start, there are some things you need to keep in mind.

In this article, we will discuss the best way to go about teaching your dog how to swim, as well as some tips for keeping him safe while he’s in the water.

Get a Dog Flotation Device

Most dogs love the water, but some are nervous or scared of it. This often stems from the fear that their feet are not on solid ground and they have to rely on their swimming ability to keep their head above water – a scary thought for many dogs!

If your dog has this fear, you may want to consider using a flotation device to help him feel more comfortable.

There are many different types of dog flotation devices on the market, but the AKC and other dog organizations recommend that you use a properly fitted life jacket for your dog.

This ensures that the floatation device will not slip off while paddling around in the water and will keep him safe and secure while he’s learning to swim.

We like the life jackets from because they have great customer service and are good with returns in case you need to swap life jacket sizes for your dog.

K9 Training Institute

Introduce Your Dog to the Water Slowly

Once you have a flotation device for your dog, it’s time to introduce him to the water. Start by taking him to an area of the lake where the water is shallow and calm. Do not try to force your dog into the water – let him approach it on his own.

If he seems hesitant, try placing a toy or treat in the water to entice him in. Once he’s in the water, praise him and offer more treats.

The goal is to make this experience positive for your dog so that he doesn’t associate the water with something negative.

Help Your Dog paddle around

Now that your dog is in the water, it’s time to help him start paddling around. If he’s wearing a life jacket, you can gently hold on to the back of it and help him move his legs as he paddles.

Ideally you will want to take your dog to an enclosed area such as a dog beach, where he can get used to the water without being able to run off. It is also ideal that the water area has barriers so your dog will not swim too far away from land.

Use a Water Toy

Once your dog is comfortable with being in the water, you can start to introduce a water toy. This could be a rope toy, Frisbee, or anything else that your dog enjoys playing with.

Start by throwing the toy a short distance away from you so that he has to paddle a little to reach it. As he gets more comfortable swimming, you can start throwing it farther and farther away.

Encourage your dog to swim to you and give him lots of praise when he does. Praising him each time is important so that he associates swimming with something positive.

Gradually increase the time that you spend in the water, and eventually he will be swimming on his own.

Lake Safety Tips for Swimming with Your Dog

Swimming in a lake is a great way to exercise and bond with your dog, but it’s important to keep safety in mind when you’re swimming with your furry friend.

Here are a few tips to keep in mind:

  • Use a life jacket for your dog – this will help them stay afloat and prevent them from getting tired. This is especially important if your dog is swimming in the lake from a boat or is in deeper water.
  • Start with short swimming sessions and gradually increase the time you spend in the water.
  • Take breaks often so your dog doesn’t get too tired.
  • Be aware of your dog’s energy level and stop swimming if he seems to be getting too tired.
  • Keep an eye on other animals and people in the area – you don’t want your dog to get too excited and start swimming away from you.
  • Be aware of your dog’s health – if he has any medical conditions that could be exacerbated by swimming, it’s best to avoid it.
  • Watch for signs of distress in your dog – if he starts to panic or seems uncomfortable, get out of the water immediately.

Don’t Get Frustrated

Some dogs just don’t like being in the water. If your dog seems scared or unwilling to go in the lake, don’t get frustrated. No amount of training or time can convince some dogs to have fun in the lake. There are plenty of other activities that you can do with your dog that will be just as enjoyable for both of you.

Image credit

Atanas Teodosiev teodosiev, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons