Many puppies love the water and become great swimmers over time. However, to get your puppy to that point, you need to begin by introducing your puppy to the water safely and positively.
1. Never force your puppy into the water, or carry it into the water, off a dock or a boat. Use a slow approach that allows the puppy to get comfortable on its own.
2. It is best to start in shallow water with a firm bottom that you and the puppy can walk in, splash and enjoy.
3. Be sure the water is not too cold, or hot. You want it to be refreshing for the puppy but not so cool as to startle the pup. Make these walks in the water casual over a number of days and slowly walk out deeper; however, not so deep that the puppy cannot feel the bottom.
4. When the puppy is comfortable with this activity, use your retrieving object and gently toss it just beyond the puppy’s limit so it has to lunge, and ultimately swim, to reach it. Do not toss it so the puppy swims. You want to toss it so that when the puppy lunges from where it feels the bottom, it’s follow through after it grabs the object will require it to swim as it turns around to come back to you. Work on this and over time you will be able to increase the distance.
5. You can praise the puppy gently but limit the excitement. People tend to overdo it and create more issues. Do not do too many repetitions. If all else fails, you can try another dog to create competition. Bear in mind, this is a last ditch effort and it typically creates jealousy and vocalizing that you will need to try and eliminate later. However, it can work with some dogs if the patient approach does not work.
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