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Video: Getting a Pup to Take the Plunge

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June 15, 2009

Video: Getting a Pup to Take the Plunge

By David DiBenedetto


http://ak.c.ooyala.com/U5ZnMwYzrjezyTi_f_Kj4KMs1vk2qceE/Ut_HKthATH4eww8X4xMDoxOjAwMTt5zx

Taking a pup for its first swim is one of my favorite moments of raising a water dog. I’ve been lucky that my pups showed nothing more than a mild hesitation when it came to the first dip, but that’s not always the case. A few readers of the blog have asked for the basics of teaching a dog to swim. As I’ve said before, I’m no pro but here’s what I’ve learned from the pros.

Find a shallow pond with a sloping, sandy bottom. And be sure the water is 60 degrees or warmer. With your pup on the shore, start wading into the pond, gently coaxing her to follow you. Whatever you do, don’t force or drag your pup in the water. If you need a bribe, bring a puppy treat.

If, after repeated tries, your dog won’t take the plunge, it’s time for a break. Try the same process the following day. If you’re still having trouble, find a large puddle or some such that allows your dog to literally get its feet wet but not have to swim. And work your way back to the pond. Sometimes a non-swimmer can be encouraged by another dog or pup that likes the water. When your pup sees the frolicking going on in the pond it’s hard to resist not joining in.

Remember, all pups move at different speeds. Never toss your pup in the water or drag her by a leash. This will pretty much guarantee that your dog remains a landlubber.

The attached video was taken some weeks back during Pritch’s first swim. I could have chosen a more gentle-sloping pond, but otherwise we were successful. You’ll note that I used a puppy treat to get her wet. (I’m not above bribes.) And just a few minutes after this first swim she made her first short (very short) water retrieve.

Take it slow and easy and chances are your pup will become a water dog. If anyone else has some advice for those who can’t get their dog to swim let’s hear it.

Comments (12)

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from psedlar wrote 4 years 44 weeks ago

My six mounth old boykin,and I went to the pond this weekend. It went great! He was swimming after the stick and was all excited! He loved it,evertime he grabed the stick he would shake it. He would run and jump in and swim great. However I live in Colorado and the pond we were in wasn't that cold but he was still shaken 45mins after we were home.Then all last night he whinned and scrached his ears. I even dryed them when we were done. I hope that This dosn't happen all the time when we duck hunt. And I don't know if he will ajust to the cold water. Anyother boykin owners have any ideas?? Thanks Pat

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from WA Mtnhunter wrote 4 years 44 weeks ago

Take some large coton balls and put down the ear canal and gently rub the area behind and below the ear allowing the cotton ball to absorb the water, then remove it. i have to do this ofte nfor my retrievers. He may have an ear irritation and the water has aggravated it. Get some ear cleaner and salve from your vet and use it often year round for water dogs.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from FloridaHunter1226 wrote 4 years 44 weeks ago

I would have to say that you performed very well here. Great job and good advice!

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from pinopolis wrote 4 years 44 weeks ago

We waited until our pup was 5 months before taking her for a swim. She did just fine. I actually wanted to take her earlier, but my husband was hesitant, as he wanted her to be very capable her first time in the water so she'd have a good experience (also, a plus for his own ego...). What's the earliest you'd want to introduce a dog to the water? Any harm in starting young?

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Dave DiBenedetto wrote 4 years 44 weeks ago

pinopolis,

Many people start pups swimming when they're around 3 months old (or even younger) but it's more important to wait for the right opportunity than to rush it. Either way, you're pup is swimming so good on ya. - D

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from psedlar wrote 4 years 44 weeks ago

Dave how old is Pritch now? What does she weigh?

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from justducky wrote 4 years 44 weeks ago

Weather permitting I start taking pups to the water at 6 weeks. I have a pond in my front yard so we just take our usual walk and I go into the water and walk along the shoreline and let the pups follow me in. What will get you worried is when the entire litter goes right in and then some start swimming out into open water!
When client dogs come in and they haven't been introduced to the water (and are reluctant to enter) I wade in with them and encourage them to fetch. If that does't work I get another dog out and use some competition. Sometimes I need to throw up to 10 short retrieves for the other dog before the one I am trying to get into the water can't stand it any more and goes in.
With all retrieving, keep it simple and fun.
Pam

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from muskiemaster wrote 4 years 44 weeks ago

thanks for the video I will put the treat method into our swimming day this week, where we hope to get a couple more doggy paddles in before running charging out right away only to repeat again.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Cowens wrote 4 years 44 weeks ago

A couple of comments on the items above.......After reading "justducky's" book I hijacked some goldfish from my daughter and used them as treats....they are bright yellow and they float. He was in at 8 weeks without a second thought, and just last weekend he was doing long retrieves in a large lake with no problem (no problem sleeping either). He just hit 6 1/2 months

My Boykin too had problems with water in his ears and I called my vet. Fill up the ear canal after they swim using a spray bottle containing (3 parts rubbing alcohol and 1 part white vinegar) The alcohol dries the ears and the vinegar creates an acidic environment that inhibits yeast. It worked almost immediately and we have had no problems since.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Del in KS wrote 4 years 44 weeks ago

My 15 month old GSH pointer Jill went to a nearby stream a few weeks ago and just flopped in a pool to cool off. Haven't had her near a lake yet but I don't think swimming will be a problem. She retrieves dead quail and tennis balls like a pro.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Jeff Bowers wrote 4 years 43 weeks ago

My Heidi does that. Just wanders into the shallow water and laid down, head and tail sticking up like some fuzzy Loch Ness monster.

Side note: How would we post a picture of a dog? Under what category? Do we need a dog category? I would like some idea of what her breed might be. She swims, retrieves, and flushes birds. Not good with guns.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from 175rltw wrote 4 years 43 weeks ago

When I was 3 our old lab looney got put to sleep, I was told he was going to get a shot (This spawned a seperate hysteria when my parents, a month or so later, told me they were taking my little sister to the doctor to get a shot...) At any rate when I was 6 we got another lab, and I remember trying to get one of the pups to swim in canoe half full of water, at 5 weeks old. The water was shallow enought the pup could stand in it up to its chest. I rather disdainfully told my dad we oughta be trying another breeder as "these labs don't even swim" Well we got our girl from that litter a week later and then spent every winter after that (until we filled it in) trying to keep her from drowning in our pool-- which she would tear a corner of the cover up on to allow herself access to the 40 degree water... Thanks for the memories.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report

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from psedlar wrote 4 years 44 weeks ago

My six mounth old boykin,and I went to the pond this weekend. It went great! He was swimming after the stick and was all excited! He loved it,evertime he grabed the stick he would shake it. He would run and jump in and swim great. However I live in Colorado and the pond we were in wasn't that cold but he was still shaken 45mins after we were home.Then all last night he whinned and scrached his ears. I even dryed them when we were done. I hope that This dosn't happen all the time when we duck hunt. And I don't know if he will ajust to the cold water. Anyother boykin owners have any ideas?? Thanks Pat

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from WA Mtnhunter wrote 4 years 44 weeks ago

Take some large coton balls and put down the ear canal and gently rub the area behind and below the ear allowing the cotton ball to absorb the water, then remove it. i have to do this ofte nfor my retrievers. He may have an ear irritation and the water has aggravated it. Get some ear cleaner and salve from your vet and use it often year round for water dogs.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from FloridaHunter1226 wrote 4 years 44 weeks ago

I would have to say that you performed very well here. Great job and good advice!

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from pinopolis wrote 4 years 44 weeks ago

We waited until our pup was 5 months before taking her for a swim. She did just fine. I actually wanted to take her earlier, but my husband was hesitant, as he wanted her to be very capable her first time in the water so she'd have a good experience (also, a plus for his own ego...). What's the earliest you'd want to introduce a dog to the water? Any harm in starting young?

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Dave DiBenedetto wrote 4 years 44 weeks ago

pinopolis,

Many people start pups swimming when they're around 3 months old (or even younger) but it's more important to wait for the right opportunity than to rush it. Either way, you're pup is swimming so good on ya. - D

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from psedlar wrote 4 years 44 weeks ago

Dave how old is Pritch now? What does she weigh?

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from justducky wrote 4 years 44 weeks ago

Weather permitting I start taking pups to the water at 6 weeks. I have a pond in my front yard so we just take our usual walk and I go into the water and walk along the shoreline and let the pups follow me in. What will get you worried is when the entire litter goes right in and then some start swimming out into open water!
When client dogs come in and they haven't been introduced to the water (and are reluctant to enter) I wade in with them and encourage them to fetch. If that does't work I get another dog out and use some competition. Sometimes I need to throw up to 10 short retrieves for the other dog before the one I am trying to get into the water can't stand it any more and goes in.
With all retrieving, keep it simple and fun.
Pam

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from muskiemaster wrote 4 years 44 weeks ago

thanks for the video I will put the treat method into our swimming day this week, where we hope to get a couple more doggy paddles in before running charging out right away only to repeat again.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Cowens wrote 4 years 44 weeks ago

A couple of comments on the items above.......After reading "justducky's" book I hijacked some goldfish from my daughter and used them as treats....they are bright yellow and they float. He was in at 8 weeks without a second thought, and just last weekend he was doing long retrieves in a large lake with no problem (no problem sleeping either). He just hit 6 1/2 months

My Boykin too had problems with water in his ears and I called my vet. Fill up the ear canal after they swim using a spray bottle containing (3 parts rubbing alcohol and 1 part white vinegar) The alcohol dries the ears and the vinegar creates an acidic environment that inhibits yeast. It worked almost immediately and we have had no problems since.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Del in KS wrote 4 years 44 weeks ago

My 15 month old GSH pointer Jill went to a nearby stream a few weeks ago and just flopped in a pool to cool off. Haven't had her near a lake yet but I don't think swimming will be a problem. She retrieves dead quail and tennis balls like a pro.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Jeff Bowers wrote 4 years 43 weeks ago

My Heidi does that. Just wanders into the shallow water and laid down, head and tail sticking up like some fuzzy Loch Ness monster.

Side note: How would we post a picture of a dog? Under what category? Do we need a dog category? I would like some idea of what her breed might be. She swims, retrieves, and flushes birds. Not good with guns.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from 175rltw wrote 4 years 43 weeks ago

When I was 3 our old lab looney got put to sleep, I was told he was going to get a shot (This spawned a seperate hysteria when my parents, a month or so later, told me they were taking my little sister to the doctor to get a shot...) At any rate when I was 6 we got another lab, and I remember trying to get one of the pups to swim in canoe half full of water, at 5 weeks old. The water was shallow enought the pup could stand in it up to its chest. I rather disdainfully told my dad we oughta be trying another breeder as "these labs don't even swim" Well we got our girl from that litter a week later and then spent every winter after that (until we filled it in) trying to keep her from drowning in our pool-- which she would tear a corner of the cover up on to allow herself access to the 40 degree water... Thanks for the memories.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report

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