Some dogs love going beachside, lakeside, or poolside. Hello, Labradors, we’re looking at you! But not all dogs enjoy swimming, and some of them are downright afraid to dip in a paw. If you want your dog to be more comfortable around any body of water (from puddles to pools), this one’s for you.
Why is My Dog Scared of the Water?
Not all dogs want to race right into the water, even if they were bred to be ‘water dogs’. Some of them have to be coaxed and comforted to even get close to it. Here are some reasons your dog might be a little timid around H20:
- Bath time. Is your dog’s only experience with water at bath time? If that’s unpleasant for them, they won’t like water in other scenarios.
- Unfamiliar situations. If your dog has never seen anything bigger than a tub or a pool, they may be a little frightened of a larger body of water. The sounds (like crashing waves) and new smells might overwhelm your dog at first.
- Personality. Some dogs are more anxious, period, and others aren’t inclined to take risks like diving into a suspicious new substance.
How Can I Help my Water-Shy Dog?
This tips will help your dog stay calm, even before you take the plunge:
- Go slow. See where your dog feels comfortable and start there. If that’s 100 feet from the shore, that’s okay! Forcing them close before they’re ready can make them more afraid.
- Use high-value treats. Make your beach day a really positive experience by bringing some treats that your dog loves.
- Choose slow-moving water. Calmer waters like lakes are better to start with than fast-moving streams. They’re less likely to frighten your dog.
- Relax. The calmer you are, the calmer your dog will be.
- Have fun. If your dog sees you having a great time near the water, they’ll be more willing to join in.
- Bring a buddy. A confident, water-loving dog can teach a timid dog that being near the water is a blast.
- Lifejackets can help build confidence. And some dogs love them! Ruffwear makes a well-reviewed one, as do Kurgo and Outward Hound.
Start at Home
The more you practice, the more comfortable your dog will be when you head out for a beach day.
- Get a kiddie pool. Wading in shallow water in the comfort of your backyard is a great way to cool off and to teach your dog that water is fun.
- Make bath time fun. Use treats, warm water, and positive reinforcement to make bath time a good experience.
- Take baby steps. Go at your dog’s pace to avoid any setbacks and to make each training session a success.
While your dog might never be a champion swimmer, making sure they’re comfortable near water is important. After all, even if they’re not a beach bum, they’re likely to encounter a rainy day walk once in a while.
Featured image via Reddit