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The doggy paddle: Tips on teaching your dog how to swim

American Kennel Club, American Kennel Club on

Published in Cats & Dogs News

Swimming may come natural to some dogs, and most love it. However, even natural-born swimmers need to be trained. Pool season is here, and you can make the most of the heat with your pup by following a few pool safety tips.

The American Kennel Club offers the following advice for properly teaching your dog to swim and keeping them safe around the pool.

Building confidence. Not all breeds are natural swimmers and even those who are may be afraid the first time they enter the water. Building confidence in your pup is important before letting them jump right in. Be sure to take it slowly in shallow water and praise your dog every step of the way.

Learning the doggy paddle. While learning the doggy paddle, if your pup begins to only use their front legs, lift their hind legs to help them float. They should quickly catch on and keep their back end up.

Don’t overdo it. As with any workout, swim time should be increased in small increments. Do not let them overdo it as they will be using new muscles and may tire quickly.

Exiting the pool. Dogs are not used to using the human stairs or ladder and will need to be taught how to use them. Learning this can cause your dog to panic, so be patient with them.


Spray. After exiting the pool spray your pup down quickly with a hose to rinse off the chemicals from the pool water.

Take care of their ears. Dab your dog’s ears with a dry towel or use a blow dryer on a low, cool setting to get rid of excess moisture. Most infections in dogs with floppy ears are caused by too much water and dampness.

Never leave your dog unsupervised while in the pool. They may need your help and be unable to bark or grab your attention.

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