When Your Dog is Afraid of Water

You may have envisioned summers spent with your dog by the lake or pool, splashing together in the summer sun. But what if your dog is not only a reluctant swimmer, but he’s actually afraid to go into the water? Here’s what you should know when your dog is afraid of water.

All dogs are different

Not all dogs love water. Some will take to it joyfully, while others tolerate it at best. And it doesn’t matter if your dog is a breed that’s supposed to love playing in water--past trauma or current fears can mean your pup just doesn’t want to go near the water. Don’t just assume that your pet will be happy to play in the water with you, but you don’t have to give up if he doesn’t seem to want to at first.

Start with small steps

Never force a reluctant dog into the pool or other body of water--he could panic and hurt himself trying to get away. Plus, this will lead to trust issues with your dog. Instead, you can try luring your pup to the edge of the water with treats or just try getting him to stand in a few inches of water, such as in a kiddie pool or on the edge of a lake. Reward your pet when he stands in the water for a short time, then build up the time you spend in the water, gradually introducing deeper water.

Whatever you do, don’t force your dog into the water. This will only frighten him and make him distrustful of you, which will likely lead to problematic behaviours later on. Instead, be patient. It may take days, weeks, or even longer. And some dogs may never be fully happy in the water, so remember to adapt your expectations according to your dog’s personality.

Try support

You can try flotation devices designed just for dogs. These will help provide support and may make your dog feel more comfortable in the water. They will also help your dog in case he gets too tired from swimming and needs help keeping his head above water. Remember, too much fun can bad, too--overly tired dogs may struggle to stay above water and may become irritable.

For more tips on training your dog in the water, visit Bark Busters and speak to one of the great trainers there.

Tags Dog safety

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