It is very important for summer and warm weather to have your dog ‘s hair cut short.  Would you want to swim wearing a heavy winter coat that would make if very difficult to swim or even pull you under water?  Your puppy will be afraid to learn how to swim if it is life threating.     They are smart dogs and if it scary instead of fun to go into the water then they won’t.

Our Dogs love to swim.  I have never thrown or placed them in water.  I’ve always just encouraged them to go in on their own with toys or treats.  They never had a reason to become scared of the water.

Always start in a shallow area where you both can walk side by side into the water.

Tips from

If your pet is reluctant, bring a toy or a few training treats to coax her in farther. Use a positive tone of voice and lots of verbal praise when she enters the water. Gradually take her into deeper water until she must start paddling to stay afloat. At this point, you can use an arm to provide support under your dog’s belly if she appears to need the extra support. This gives her the incentive to paddle her rear legs along with the front legs.

You don’t want your dog to use only her front legs to swim, as she will tire more quickly and splash around. Keep supporting her until she seems comfortable in the water and is using all four limbs to swim. If at any point she appears to be panicking, back up into the shallow water and let her calm down before trying again.

Post-Swim Ritual

When the lesson is over, it’s time to get your dog out of the pool or boat. Take your time showing her the proper and safe way to exit the boat or pool so she can find her own way out the next time. A good final rinse with fresh water will help get rid of any residual chemicals or algae that might be clinging to her haircoat. Finally, give her lots of verbal and physical praise after the lesson, and maybe an extra treat. This will help your dog to associate fun and positive times with the experience of swimming.

Tips from the AKC

Start in shallow water with your dog on leash, ideally, where you too can enter the water. Wade in a few steps and encourage your dog to follow with some tasty treats. Reward him when he steps in the water, even if he only gets his toes wet. Gradually ask your dog to step further and further into the water until he has to start swimming to reach you.

If your dog likes to retrieve, you can toss his ball or toy a few steps into the water; each turn toss it a little further so gradually your dog will need to swim to reach his toy.

These steps should be done over a period of several days so as not to overwhelm your dog in one session.


Some dogs can be overwhelmed by large bodies of water. Try
starting with an empty baby pool in your yard. Get your dog comfortable
stepping in while the pool is empty before slowly adding water. Reward your dog
for getting in and he’ll soon be happily jumping in every chance he gets!

Start young! Get your puppy comfortable with water as soon as you
bring him home! Your bathtub or a baby pool with an inch or two of water make
great places to introduce young puppies. You can also carry small puppies into
the water and help them swim back to shore or another person.

If your dog won’t step off a pool step to start swimming try a pond or lake where they can gradually wade deeper rather than a sudden drop off.

For safety, never allow your dog to swim unattended!

For more training tips and behavioral advice for your dog, enroll in the AKC GoodDog! Helpline. The seven-day-a-week telephone support service is staffed by experienced dog trainers.

By Karen A. Soukiasian

Most, but not all dogs can swim. The best time to encourage a dog into a swimming pool is when they are young, and have little, or no negative experiences with water.

Experience of swimming in a pool should be a positive experience with positive associations. With some dogs, they take to it immediately. With others, it takes time and patience. Unlike the ocean, a lake or pond, a swimming pool has walls, and your dog may sense they will be trapped.

Never force or throw your dog into the swimming pool. It is always better when the dog thinks getting into the pool is their idea and confident tone of voice, casually lead them to the pool. Do not drag them! If they balk, unleash them and try again at another time.

Without tugging on the leash, encourage him/her toward the pool, with your voice. Each time they step forward, reward them with praise and treats. They should associate by walking with you toward the pool, good things such as getting praised and receiving treats happen! Consider this the goal for the day. This has been a positive experience with positive associations.

At this point the objective is to simply get him/her to the edge of the pool. Stand at the edge of the pool, petting him/her and continue to praise and give treats. Put your feet in the pool, have your dog sit at your side. Continue to talk to your dog in a normal tone of voice. Use lots of praise and treats. Consider this your goal for the day. This has been a positive experience with positive associations.

Repeat steps 1 and 2. Get into the pool, walk down the first two steps. Now, call your dog to follow you while gently pulling the leash. Each step they take should be rewarded with praise and treats. He/she should come forward however, they may try to retreat. Only when he/she comes forward, should you reward with praise and a treat! You may have to help them by putting their front feet into the water on the first step. Reward him/her with lots of praise and treats. Consider this your goal for the day. This has been a positive experience with positive associations.

If you can get your dog through steps 1-3, now, swim out into the pool calling them by name, giving the command “let’s swim!”; while gently pulling on the leash. As soon as their whole body is in, immediately show them how to turn around and find the stairs to get out. You did it! Reward your dog with lots of praise and treats. Consider this your goal for the day! This has been a positive experience with positive associations.

Repeat steps 1-4 often enough that your dog will willingly get in with the leash slack. Try calling them without the leash! They should get in readily. Use lots of praise. Instead of food treats in the water, reward with a tennis ball or squeaky toy. Teaching your dog to get into the pool has been a positive experience, with lots of positive associations.

Bottom line: Use highly motivating treats. The value of the reward must be worth the effort they make. Also, make sure your dog knows where the ladder, steps or shelf is located, so they can exit the pool without panicking.