Introducing your dog to water - a step by step process

  • To make it super exciting for you little puppy use a small children's pool to introduce your pet to the water. Keep the leash on and toss a special toy into the water. If he/she is still reluctant, you can take a High value treats and lure her in, placing the treat by her nose and praising and rewarding for any attempt to step into the water.
  • Start getting your pet used to water when he/she is 8-10 weeks old. This is usually when you bring a pet home if you have obtained the pet from a reputable breeder.
  • Another way to introduce your pup to water is by letting it walk around in an inch or two of water, not any deeper, while you closely supervise.
  • Whatever you can do to build a positive association with water early on, do it. Give your puppy a shallow bowl of water to play with, or set up a sprinkler in the garden or balcony on a hot day and let it run around in it. Make water fun for them so that they associate water with something they like and not that they are scared of. Let them relate to it as positive reinforcement.
  • Let your puppy spend a lot of time playing and having a good time in shallow water at a comfortable temperature before introducing it to deeper water. This will give it good associations with water, to begin with.
  • Spend time in shallow water playing your puppy’s favorite game. This could be simply running and sniffing around, or it could be a game of fetch, whatever your puppy loves to do.
  •  If you are worried about your puppy’s safety, you can put a life vest on it to ensure it doesn't drown. There are a wide variety of canine flotation devices on the market designed to keep a pet safe while enjoying the water. These are usually vest-type jackets that hook around the pet's chest and under its belly.
  • Just like flotation devices for humans, you must get one for your dog that fits it perfectly. A snug fit is essential when it is keeping your dog afloat.
  • Canine flotation devices often have a handle on the back so that you can more easily grab your dog out of the water if it is having trouble or you want to get it out of the water.
  • Putting a flotation device on an older dog with mobility issues is also an excellent way to allow them to enjoy the water without the fear that they will become exhausted and drown.
  • Carry a timid dog into the water and show it that you are there to help it. Hold onto the dog and let it do a few paddles with its paws while you continue to hold it.
  • Expect to go into the water with your dog multiple times before the dog is comfortable with deep water.
  • Hold onto the dog tightly if it is scared, and don't force it to paddle without support.
  • If you hold the dog around its midsection, it will be able to paddle with its front and back paws while still getting support from you.
  • Be prepared for the dog to struggle. Hold onto it, preferably with a harness or flotation device, so it doesn't get away from you if it panics.
  • Letting small puppies watch adult dogs in water can also pique their interest. This will show them that swimming is a natural part of life.