How to Train Your Dog to Jump Into the Water

Easy
3-14 Days
General

Introduction

If you live in the stunning countryside, peppered with ponds and lakes it’s always a shame if your canine pal strolls straight past them without considering a dip. It’s part of the fantasy of having your own dog, that you can play fetch with him in ponds and watch him surf the waves. It’s also fantastic exercise for him. Swimming is the perfect workout for overly energetic dogs who never seem quite as exhausted as you’d like after a long walk.

It’s also fantastic for their muscles. Just as swimming for humans tones and strengthens a range of muscles you didn’t know you have, it can keep your dog fit and healthy too. While hopefully it never happens, your trusty four-legged friend may be the life raft you need one day if you or your family get in some trouble in the water.

Defining Tasks

The best part about this training is that it’s pretty easy from the owner's side of things. It mainly consists of making the water irresistible and using some basic commands to get your dog jumping head first into the deep end. Many people assume all dogs can swim, but just like humans, some dogs are scared of the water and need gentle encouragement to begin with. If he’s a puppy, he’s probably full of energy and ready to please. If so, you can expect to see results in as little as a few days. If he’s older, with years under his belt of being wary around water, than be patient, it may take him a week or two.

Getting this training right will open him up to a new and exciting underwater world. It will be a great workout for him and ensure you get some peace and quiet to chill on the couch while he dozes after his midday swim.

Getting Started

Before he becomes a duck to water you will need a few bits. A pool or shallow pond will be essential. Preferably one with a sloping bottom so you can build up his confidence gradually. You will also need some toys and his favorite food or some treats to lure him into the water.

You’ll also need a swimming suit and be willing to get wet! Then you’ll just need 15 minutes a day, each day, until he gets the hang of it and you’re ready to start.

The Start Shallow Method

Effective
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Step
1
Entice him over
Lure him over to the pool with a handful of treats or his favorite toy. Really try and hold his attention and play with him as you head over. The more fun he is having the harder he will work and the quicker he will learn.
Step
2
Start shallow
Throw a treat or toy into the shallow part of the water. It is important you throw it where it’s so shallow he can still see it either floating, or on the bottom just below the surface. Once it’s in encourage him to jump in, by pointing, looking, and using verbal encouragement.
Step
3
Reward
As soon as he jumps in, give him a treat and show him how happy you are with him. You can play with him and use a high pitched voice, just make sure he understands he’s done the right thing. This is the hardest step so be patient, it may take a while before he takes that first plunge.
Step
4
Go deeper
Once he successfully jumps in at the shallow end, gradually increase the depth you throw the treat/toy in. The key to this is building up his confidence slowly so don’t rush, it may take many days before he’s comfortable jumping in towards the deep end.
Step
5
Try other locations
When he’s mastered jumping in at the deepest part of the pool, repeat the same process at ponds and lakes you walk past. It’s important you now continue building up his swimming confidence even in unknown water. Once he’s happy and comfortable jumping in there, you can slowly reduce the frequency of treats and just throw a stick, tennis ball or toy to get him jumping in.
Recommend training method?

The Lead by Example Method

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Step
1
Get swim ready
Put on your swim suit and take him over to the pool. Bring with you his favorite toy or treats. If you’re using a toy, make sure you’ve been playing with it in the daytime and evening, so he gets really excited whenever he sees it.
Step
2
Start shallow
Get in the most shallow part of the pool and hold onto the toy/treat. When you get in make sure you remain happy and playful. If you look glum faced because it’s cold you may deter him from wanting to join you.
Step
3
Gentle encouragement
Once in, encourage him to jump in and join you. You can dangle the toy in front of him, call his name, or hold out the treat as an incentive. This is the biggest hurdle, so don’t be dismayed if it takes a lot of encouragement before he leaps in.
Step
4
Plenty of praise
When he does jump in, be sure to give him a treat or let him have his toy. It’s really important you give him a good reward--the better it is the more keen he’ll be to earn it again. When he does jump in, don’t rough house with him to start with, he needs to feel relaxed and comfortable when he’s in there, so play nice!
Step
5
Increase the depth
After several successful jumps, wade further in and increase the depth he’s willing to jump into. Don’t head straight to the deep end, this needs to be a slow and gradual process. Remember to always keep it fun and playful and he’ll soon be like a duck to water. When he’s comfortable in the deep end you can get out and practice throwing his toys and treats in from the dry. Just keep training daily until you’re confident he’s fully got the hang of it.
Recommend training method?

The Verbal Cue Method

Effective
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Step
1
Get your swim suit on
Head down to the pool or pond with a handful of treats and your dog in tow. Keep the atmosphere upbeat and playful as you go. You want him excited and eager to play. You can even show him a treat or two to really peak his interest.
Step
2
'Jump'
Stand at the shallow end and give a ‘jump’ command. You don’t have to use the word ‘jump’ you can use anything from ‘dive’ to ‘submarine’. As long as the word is relatively short, he’ll be able to quickly learn it.
Step
3
Follow the command with a teaser
As soon as you give the command, throw a treat/tennis ball/stick in. Then encourage him as much as you can with words and gestures. If none of that works, lead by example and jump in yourself.
Step
4
Hammer home the praise
Once he’s finally in, give him a treat and lots of praise. Be sure to reward him as quickly as possible otherwise he won’t associate the treat with the command. Practice this at the shallow end for the first day or two.
Step
5
Gradually increase the depth
When you can throw it in at the deep end and he’ll dive straight in, then you know your training is nearly complete. You can then start slowly reducing how often you give him treats and use the verbal command alone to get him to jump.
Recommend training method?

Success Stories and Training Questions

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