Swimming is a great way for dogs to exercise and stay cool during the summertime. If you have a pool or live near a body of water, here’s what you should know about teaching your dog to swim.

Swimming is a great way for dogs to exercise or cool down during the summer.
Swimming is a great way for dogs to exercise or cool down during the summer.
Image free from Pixabay

Some Dogs Will Take to Water Faster Than Others

Most dogs will be able to learn how to swim, but some dog breeds will find swimming easier than others. Retriever dogs were originally bred for – you guessed it – retrieving game from water, so most retrievers will take to water like ducks. Many other breeds also enjoy swimming, including Newfoundlands, English Setters, and most spaniel breeds.

However, other dogs may have trouble swimming because of their anatomy structure. Dogs with short or stubby legs, such as dachshunds, Pekingese, or basset hounds, may have trouble moving in the water. Swimming may be difficult or even dangerous for flat-faced breeds like bulldogs. These dogs will have difficulty keeping their faces above water while swimming, making it difficult for them to breathe.

Take it Easy at First

Whatever you do, don’t just shoo your dog into the water and expect them to start swimming. This is especially true if they’re still a puppy, or from a breed that isn’t totally suited to water. If you push them too hard the first time, you may put them off swimming forever, or at least for a long time.

Try bringing them to a shallow body of water and gently encouraging them to go in. If you’ve got a kiddie pool, you may want to start there, especially with smaller dogs or puppies. If your dog doesn’t take to swimming immediately, don’t force it. If your dog seems scared of going in the water, you might want to end the swimming session early and try again later. Rewarding nervous dogs for going in or near water may also help them create positive associations with water and swimming.

Dog in water swimming
This dog is certainly having fun in the water!
Photo by @rrinna from Pexels

Always Bring Clean Water for Your Dog to Drink

Many dogs, if they get thirsty, will drink whatever water is available to them. Unfortunately, if you take your dog swimming in a natural body of water or a pool, this can lead to them drinking unclean water with parasites in it. If you’re going to take your dog swimming, make sure they’re hydrated so that they don’t drink the water right in front of them.

Don’t Let Your Dog Go Swimming Unsupervised

Even if your dog is a practiced swimmer, letting dogs swim unsupervised is never a good idea. If your dog is going swimming, make sure they don’t leave your sight. This goes double if your dog is swimming in a natural body of water. You’ll want to watch out for potential dangers while your dog is swimming, including other animals, sharp rocks, deep water, and boats.

In particular, if other people are fishing you’ll definitely want your dog to steer clear. Many dogs will attempt to eat fishing bait if they find it in the water, which can lead to them being injured. If your dog does swallow fishing bait, take them to a vet immediately.


Swimming is a great way for dogs to exercise and stay cool during the summertime. If your dog has been cooped up lately, you might want to try taking them to the local pool (if they’ll allow dogs) and see how well they take to the water.