FitDog Friday #53 – Dogs who don’t like water and swimming


Mr. N can swim. Even though he doesn’t really like to. He’s quite good at it for a dog who hates getting wet. He doesn’t stop to flounder but will start swimming instantly and heads for the shore. Normally, left to his own devices, he will wade while Sage swims.

Photo courtesy of Sage’s human
I saw a video of someone conditioning their Chihuahua by having him swim in the bathtub. So I immediately drew a warm bath (while thinking why didn’t I think of that?) and put Mr. N’s life jacket on him and popped him in the tub.
I held on to his life jacket and he would swim but I can tell he doesn’t like it. I gave him treats for every couple of strokes and he would grudgingly cooperate.

It would be nice if he would enjoy swimming. I fully appreciate him not wanting to swim in cold water because he gets cold so easily but the tub was pretty warm. Especially now that it’s getting colder, it would make for a good indoor activity but I don’t want to force him into it. 
Any advice as to how to get him to like swimming and water more? 




14 Responses

  1. Janice

    November 7, 2014 9:40 am

    Perhaps over time he will come to like it better, especially starting him off with warm water like that. Then you could graduate to pools at indoor dog parks (I know Fidos has one). Alas, none of my dogs will swim, though they enjoy going into the water.

  2. Emma

    November 7, 2014 12:19 pm

    Some dogs just don't like to swim, just like some people don't. My sister Katie was on the North Sea coast at 9 weeks old with an older sibling that swam all the time but Katie never has liked to swim. She will wade, but doesn't like to get past her belly in the water. There is nothing wrong with it, just another way to enjoy water.

  3. SlimDoggy

    November 7, 2014 1:11 pm

    I would keep trying to incent him with the treats, or maybe take a toy into the water and play a little fetch, but at the end of the day – if he doesn't like it, he doesn't like it.

  4. Beth

    November 7, 2014 2:08 pm

    Barley's not a fan of water, either! She tries to herd the waves at the lake and never gets more than her toes in, which is fine with me because it saves me from having to give her even more baths to get the lake scum off 🙂 Even though Bar's too big to swim in the tub, I totally understand how nice it would be to have an indoor activity like that for the winter months!

    • Beth

      November 8, 2014 3:44 am

      I am right there with you! Barley will bury herself in the snow and roll around in it–and she'd do it all day if I'd let her. But on a summer day when a light drizzle might actually feel good on a walk, she won't step off the porch. Warm and wet wins in my book any day.

  5. Janet Keefe

    November 7, 2014 11:19 pm

    Our male golden retriever didn't like swimming either, he would go in until he couldn't feel the bottom, but he wouldn't swim. Yet his sister (littermate) swims like a fish and loves it. I think it might just be a personality thing. I don't think it's something you can coerce him into liking, but I think if you just keep exposing him to it, it might happen. That did happen with my sister's Lab mix….she just let him do what he wanted and eventually he learned to love it.
    Lots of wags and woofs from the crew at Wag n Woof Pets

  6. To Dog With Love

    November 8, 2014 4:25 am

    I kind of think it's a personality thing, too. A floaty toy could help, or have you ever tried a kiddie pool? It's not really swimming, but it may encourage him to like the water. Swim therapy is also great for their range of motion, the place we go to has a nice heated pool and a person who is in the water with them. Rocco seems to like it.

  7. Hawkeye BrownDog

    November 8, 2014 12:39 pm

    Hi Y'all!

    Don't have any hints to gettin' a fellow to enjoy swimmin'. Bein' a retriever who learned from all the other 8 retrievers in my family, I do love to retrieve. Maybe, if Mr. N likes to retrieve, you can toss his favorite floatin' toy out a bit into the water and he'd go in after it. But I'm sure, with Sage, y'all have tried that one.

    Y'all come by now,
    Hawk aka BrownDog

  8. 2browndawgs

    November 11, 2014 1:02 am

    When we are teaching pups to swim we make sure to get them good and warm and make sure the water is also warm. Usually they like to wade in rather than be dunked in. If you can get them to play fetch on the edge and then throw the toy out just a bit further and further so they are playing and having fun. It sometimes takes a few seasons. Some dogs like to play in the water with other dogs and some don't. You may want to have Mr N play on his own in the water, but I would not do it now going into winter. You will have to wait until next summer.

    The other thing you could do is to get in the tub with him. May sound silly, but Thunder and Freighter's breeder does it with all the pups she breeds. (OK so she is fully clothed…lol.) She plays with them in the tub and that helps them learn it is fun!


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