Contrary to what one might think, not all dogs love water. For example, dogs who live in cities, are sometimes wary of water because they have little experience with it. Others may even fear it, perhaps because they associate it with negative experiences, which could be linked to events such as grooming or thunderstorms.

How can you teach a dog to swim?

1. Choose the right place

First of all, it is very important to choose a safe place, where it is easy to follow the dog closely and, if necessary, to help them. The water must be sufficiently warm and calm; the bottom should be shallow and free of obstacles and any danger: both visible ones, such as high boat traffic, and those not visible from the surface, such as rocks or fishing lines.

2. The ideal climate

Even the day must be chosen with care, paying particular attention to the weather. The ideal day to teach your dog to swim is one with a mild climate, calm wind and weak currents.

3. Get the dog used to the water

Once the dog has reached the chosen stretch of sea or fresh water, it should be introduced gently into the water, without forcing them and respecting their pace. Once in the water, it will be possible to help them familiarise with it, for example through play. It could be useful, for example, to throw a ball and allow the dog to run to get it and bring it back. Slowly they will spontaneously begin to swim.

Dogs and water... A combination that is not always natural

A fundamental rule?

Never leave your dog alone in the water, always join them!

And remember that even for dogs, it is never too late to learn how to swim!

Is the lifejacket mandatory for the dogs in the water?

A lifejacket is not mandatory. However, it is certainly recommended especially in some critical situations. For example, when the water is particularly cold (12-18° C), when the dog still does not know how to swim or is in any case poorly trained, or when they are far away from the shore or in an unfamiliar environment, as well as when they are sailing on a boat.

Federica Pirrone, Mariangela Albertini, Patrizia Piotti researchers at UNIMI Veterinaria