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    1. #1
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      Best way to introduce a puppy to swimming/water

      Just thinking ahead here. The weather is finally getting nice and warm. We have a lake close to our house that we frequent. I use to take Jules there for swimming though he was never a huge fan of swimming. I really would like Archie to love swimming. So I was thinking of the best way to introduce him to swimming. Do you carry the puppy in and let him swim to shore? Do you lure him with treats into the water? Do you just lead him to water and let him do his thing? What's the best way to ensure a positive experience with swimming?

    2. #2
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      I took my girl,@ 12 weeks, now 9 when it was about 30 degrees out.....to the lake she barreled right in . Neither of mine needed anything to get in the water, besides being near water itself.


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    3. #3
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      Quote Originally Posted by brian3x View Post
      I took my girl,@ 12 weeks, now 9 when it was about 30 degrees out.....to the lake she barreled right in . Neither of mine needed anything to get in the water, besides being near water itself.


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      Temperature was another thing I wasn't sure about. Don't know how cold the lake is right now...

    4. #4
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      I'm sure mine was barely above freezing. My only worry would be if waves are too big for the pup, no rocks they could get pushed into etc.


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    5. #5
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      Most of the Labs I've had pretty much waded in and after a short period of time, the swam. Sophie took almost 2 years before she finally swam, despite multiple trip to a local pond. Bruce was 13 months old when he was introduced to water, swam on the third visit to the pond. I took Brooks to my son's house as he has a built in pool. Brooks just kinda ran around, fell in while investigating, swam for the steps and would not get back in. I took him to where we field train when he was about 3 months old. Just started with a puppy bumper tossing it into shallow water, he was straight in and out. After 3 or 4 tosses I went a little further, until the point where he had to swim a couple of feet to get the bumper. Ended the session with that. The next week a bit further. By the third visit he was swimming maybe 20 yards.

      I think you just have to read the dog and let them figure it out. What ever you do don't force it, it's very much a confidence thing. Also from what I've read the younger they are when they start the less fear they have. I haven't had enough puppies to really test that theory FWIW.

      Does Archie retrieve?? If he does find out what his favorite toy is and use that to into him to the water.

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    7. #6
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      Let the dog figure it out on his own. Playing with another dog that swims can help. Warm water helps, too. I wouldn't expect your pup to want to swim until this summer, when the water is sufficiently heated.

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    9. #7
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      Ditto to playing with another dog. They'll frequently chase another dog in without realizing they're in the water and then all of a sudden say "hey! this isn't so bad!"
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    10. #8
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      My first (AKC) Lab, Bess, was very much like brian3x's dog. When she was still a young puppy, she barreled in probably in March or February (in Kansas when the water was still very cold).

      My second Lab, Puff, was from an AKC Hunting & Field Trial line; she was the runt of her litter and lacked the keg-like body of Bess -- Puff was rather trim and in adulthood barely weighed 62 pounds. We used to walk a couple miles every morning in a nearby nature preserve where we'd pass by several small ponds. I always had a "bumper" with me to throw for Puff to retrieve and, after a bit when we'd come to a pool, I tied a line to the bumper before throwing it (just in case I was the retriever) and threw it still within Puff's wading distance and then gradually increased the depth of water into which it landed.

      Good thing.

      Puff was okay as a wader BUT -- when it came to swimming -- she was always upright in the water, not using her rear legs while frantically flailing her front legs to keep her head from drowning. She'd make a geyser about 3 feet high! And she stayed that way despite repeated practice.

      A number of times we tried social swimming events at the lake with other Labs but that didn't help.

      So I got a doggie PFD for her to level her out and with that, Puff finally began using her back legs, too, which did level her out.

      We practiced daily, both on our morning walks and also with trips to Lake Shawnee where my sailboat (a C-Scow) was trailered. I needed Puff to learn to swim because I loved to sail (racing & pleasure) and enjoyed taking Bess with us and thought Puff could also enjoy it. My (then) wife and I had to spell several words related to the lake or sailing to keep Bess from getting frantically excited and wanting to get out to the car. Bess never met a body of water she didn't want to swim in and LOVED sailing on my C-scows -- she usually positioned herself at the very front of it's broad bow somewhat like a hood ornament.

      But not so with Puff. She tolerated sailing but didn't enjoy it. And while she eventually learned to swim using her rear legs and leveling her body out (after repeated uses of her PFD), she was built so she was barely buoyant in the water. Only Puff's head was visible while her chin was grazing the lake. By contrast, all of Bess's head, much of her neck plus the tops of her back and tail were clearly visible.

      So "read" your dog and follow a course to make it safe and fun.

      HTH
      Last edited by Bob Pr.; 04-04-2017 at 05:43 PM. Reason: tweak writing

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    12. #9
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      Gigi saw the kids playing in the river and went in . She of course looked like a otter swimming in the river . I think she was 9 weeks old if i remember. She was sitting with the wife on the sand. We really did not think she will dive in. she has swam in ocean and lakes since. Again she seem not interested in it unless the family in there , then she is like a torpedo.

    13. #10
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      Quote Originally Posted by Bob Pr. View Post

      Puff was okay as a wader BUT -- when it came to swimming -- she was always upright in the water, not using her rear legs while frantically flailing her front legs to keep her head from drowning. And she stayed that way despite repeated practice.


      HTH
      Funny...I have seen that out of a number of dogs. Katie swam very 'hard' the first couple dozen times but eventually she figured out to relax and she doesn't even need to fetch anything she is happy just paddling along...lazy as can be


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