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  • Results 1 to 2 of 2
    1. #1
      Paul0130's Avatar
      Join Date
      May 2014
      Thanked: 9

      Swimming anxieties

      Hello. My 1 1/2 year old "pup" is exhibiting some anxious behavior around the pool I need to nip in the bud. Just a little background. He is a purebred "bench/English" lab, and probably the sweetest dog I have ever had. Not an aggressive bone in his body. The only dog I ever had where I can put my hand by his food while he's eating, or grab something really good from his mouth, and he doesn't do a thing. These aren't things I practice BTW, but something I noticed as a matter of course.

      Last summer at around 6 months we tried putting him in the pool. He just swam right out and didn't really want to get in. This year however, he is swimming like a champ and loves the water, but has some anxieties. He won't go in if no one is in the pool, he will just sit on the first or second step to cool off. However, if we go in he will carefully step out into the water to swim. And I mean carefully! He gets to the second step, puts his paw out like someone who is afraid to jump off the high dive, and then carefully launches himself out. He also has an anxiety on stairs. He can run up and down stairs OK, but if he has to stop in the middle it freaks him out. Once we were in a house with a very tall and long set of stairs and he would not go up them.

      So here's the problem. I noticed that whenever I go to the pool he almost tries to block me from going in. Once I do go in he goes swimming after me and I have to push him away so he doesn't paw all over me. If I jump in the water it really freaks him out and he barks a really deep alarms type bark. Once when I was swimming he even nipped at my face. I have been discouraging this by giving a loud "ehh" sound and that usually works fine. He knows that means this is unacceptable. Yesterday however, he was swimming after my wife (who he is probably most attached to) and nipped her really good on the lip. I believe his intention is to get her to stop swimming. Well after this happened we realized how dangerous this can be when guests come over. Lucky for us it is a very small pool, 3ft on one end and 5ft on the other so we can just stand up push him away when he comes at us.

      Any idea why he is so anxious, and appears to not want us to swim? Any tips on changing this behavior? He is a very sweet boy and loves to swim with us, I just need to teach him to swim next to us and to calm down when people jump in. On the other hand, seems he would be a pretty good water rescue dog!
      Last edited by Paul0130; 06-01-2015 at 01:09 PM.

    2. #2
      Senior Dog
      Labradorks's Avatar
      Join Date
      Jun 2014
      Thanked: 1998
      I'd leave him in the house when you are swimming because at this point, the anxiety is just building and getting worse.

      Then, I'd hire a trainer to show you ways to deal with it, which will probably include a crate with someone sitting next to it or someone holding him while the other person goes in just a little and the person standing by feeds him plays with him or something. The other person would each week (depending on how the dog was doing) go in a little bit more. This could take months to accomplish; it's not a quick fix. And, it may take years to allow him out when there are guests, especially kids, as accidentally hurting them is a way bigger deal than his own owners (as you pointed out) which is why I suggest having a trainer out as it is a liability issue, even though the dog is not aggressive. Not only that, but it must be done right or else you could make it worse.

      Good luck! And by the way, though I've never dealt with it personally, it is not uncommon at all.

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