In the hot summer months, you are likely to see many different dogs swimming at dog-friendly beaches or even at some local pools in your area. In fact, dogs enjoy swimming, as much as, humans do! Swimming is a great way for your dog to cool off on hot days, get in some great exercise and have a little bit of fun all that same time! However, that brings us to our initial question, why do dogs love swimming? We know that most cats dislike water or even swimming. So, what makes it so much fun for dogs then?
The Root of the Behavior
The majority of dogs love to swim for two very good reasons. One is that their bodies are built to swim and two is that dogs are introduced to water fun at a young age. The combination of these two things makes swimming fun for dogs. However, not all dogs like to swim. This is because the best swimmers have a certain type of body type. The characteristics that makes for a good dog swimmer include: having evenly distributed body weight, a big tail that acts like rudder, a good water resistant coat, webbed feet to aid in the dog paddle, and dogs with longer legs. A few dogs that have this body type include, but are not limited to, Labradors, Retrievers, Setters, and Spaniels. These dogs love the water and their bodies were built for it. A few examples of dogs that are not built for swimming include Bulldogs, Pugs, Greyhounds, and Basset Hounds. Typically, these breeds should stay on dry land. The other aspect of why dogs love water is how they are introduced to it when they are young. You may have some dogs that dislike baths but are still born swimmers. It is up to you to train your dog properly when you are taking them for a swim. You should not push your dog to learn fast or invoke a fear of water into your dog. If you train him to swim safely and have fun, more than likely you will have a dog who loves to swim. It is really in the training methods used. If you dog is anxious or fearful of water, never force him to swim. You can seek professional dog training if you need help in soothing your dog’s water fear. Always keep in mind the body type of your dog and how you train your dog when it comes to swimming. Just like some people don’t like to swim, it is the same for your pup.
Encouraging the Behavior
You should introduce your dog to water and swimming at a young age. However, no good will come of it if you force your dog to learn before he is ready. There are several things that will help you to encourage your dog to swim. Find any area that is easy for your dog to enter and exit the water. Start off at the shallow end of a pool or at the shoreline. Be sure that you are in area of slow moving water, this will help alleviate fear. Get in the water with your dog and be playful with him. Teaching your dog on a hot day helps. Your dog will naturally like how it cools him, so it will be easier to get him in the water. Be sure to bring a floaty toy and teach your dog to retrieve. A life jacket for your dog is an awesome and ideal tool! If your dog is nervous, bring other dogs that your pup knows and have them swim with him. If your pup is still nervous or anxious, bring him out of the water. It may take several training days to help him over his fear. No matter how you start to water train your dog, be patient and kind. Your dog will learn not to fear the water if you teach him appropriately.
Other Solutions and Considerations
Water therapy or hydrotherapy is also a great resource for you dog. A dog can do water therapy exercises for a variety of reasons including to aid in healing from an injury or to help with weight loss in dogs at risk of obesity. Water therapy can also be helpful in training more athletic dogs such as race dogs or hunting dogs. You can learn some of these great water therapy exercises yourself or you can find a local business that does water therapy for dogs. Water therapy is a great holistic health approach to some of your dogs health concerns.
While most dogs love to swim, keep in mind that not all dogs make good swimmers. Some are just not built to be strong swimmers. Be sure to train your dog properly when you teach him to swim. If you take the time to properly train your dog, you both will enjoy hot summer days on the beach!
Written by a Shiba Inu lover Patty Oelze
Veterinary reviewed by:
Published: 02/07/2018, edited: 01/30/2020