How do I get my dog used to water?
How to introduce a dog to water
With the hot weather set to continue, access to water can be a great way to cool dogs down. If your dog hasn't swum before, you may be wondering "how do I get my dog used to water?".
Here is Anglian Dog Works guide on how to introduce a dog to water using a toy or food, depending on what your dog finds most motivating.
Whether a paddling pool, river, lake or the sea these are our tried and tested methods to build confidence in dogs who have never swum before.
Using a toy to introduce a dog to water
To train a dog to retrieve in water use a toy that floats, ideally which has a cord attached.
We have also found that a DIY tennis ball cut with a sharp knife to make a hole to attach a rope works well for the dogs we have taught!
- Instigate a game on the bank, moving the toy in a way that mimics the way prey would move to catch the dog’s attention.
- When the dog is interested in the toy, throw the toy into the shallows, still holding the cord. The dog should only have to get their front paws wet when they retrieve the toy.
- When they retrieve the toy, allow them to carry it out of the water and restart the game on the bank so it is all part of their reward chain.
- Continue the game following the above steps. If the dog still appears confident, throwing the toy out, but a little further each time.
Using food to introduce a dog to water.
- Hold high-value food in between your finger and thumb, close to the dog's nose and lure them into the water as they follow the food.
- When the dogs front paws are in the water, say “good” and reward the dog by tossing the food lure out onto the bank for them to chase and eat.
- Continue the game following the above steps. If the dog still appears confident, lure until all four paws are in the water, say “good” and give the dog the reward by tossing the food lure out onto the bank for them to chase and eat.
- Gradually lure a bit deeper into the water each time
- Be aware that on very hot days large bodies of water like lakes may still be much colder than surroundings and can cause temperature shock, so instead choose a safe area.
- Avoid blue-green algae which is dangerous to dogs.
- Anglian Dog Works hold dog training classes near Balsham and have found the shallow fords in Linton and Hildersham safe places to build dogs confidence in the water as their entries are gradually sloped and the water is flowing which keeps it fresh.
About the author:
Hi 👋 I’m Emma, accredited as a professional dog trainer by the Institute of Modern Dog Trainers (IMDT). I help owners of energetic dogs achieve the dog-owning life they envisioned by providing robust obedience & agility training for dogs in Balsham, near Cambridge.
Disclaimer: The content of this article does not include personalised advice and is for information purposes only. If you need individual advice or other enquiries please click here to get in contact or if you're not local to Anglian Dog Works, you can find a trainer in your area by going to the IMDT website: https://www.imdt.uk.com/find-a-qualified-imdt-trainer
Please share your questions and progress:
We would love to see your dogs introduction to water. Post your pictures and own recommended places for dogs to swim in the Anglian Dog Works. For tips from our trainer and to share success post your pictures and videos in the Anglian Dog Works Facebook group. https://www.facebook.com/angliandogworks