How to Teach Your Dog to Swim

by Melissa Keen

Dogs aren’t born with the natural skill of swimming. You need to teach your dog to swim and familiarise them with the water.

It’s an important lesson to teach them. Not only is it great exercise, but swimming can also cool a dog down in hot temperatures. Even if you don’t intend to let your dog go swimming regularly, teaching them is still important if you want them to avoid any potentially dangerous accidents in the future.

Take Their Breed Into Account

Take your dog’s breed into account when teaching them to swim. Some breeds find swimming far more easy than others – Retrievers, Setters and Spaniels all love to swim. Dogs with shorter snouts like Pugs and Bulldogs are not good at swimming and should always be supervised around water.

Teach Your Dog to Swim When They’re Young

Introduce your puppy to water from a young age. This will help familiarise them to the sensation of swimming. Try running a shallow bath and letting them paddle around in it. Remember, always supervise them while you are teaching them, and never force a frightened dog to do something against their will. Start little and often, give plenty of encouragement and remember to praise them.

Purchase a Vest

If your dog struggles in the water, buy them a swimming vest. The vest will help keep them afloat and put your mind at ease. Dogs like Pugs (as mentioned earlier) may need to wear a swimming vest whenever they are around water. You can also buy drying coats to dry them off easily afterwards, too.

Have Another Dog Encourage Your Dog

Dogs learn fastest by watching and copying other dogs. If you have a friend whose dog is comfortable around water and swims well, let this dog show your dog what to do! Always supervise and be ready to offer a helping hand if you sense your pup is struggling.


If your dog shows signs of concern entering the water, try throwing in a tempting toy for them to chase. Always start out with shallow water to give them a chance to adjust and build confidence.

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