Swimming Isn’t Always Instinctual
Panting, barking, tail-wagging and digging. What do these four dog traits have in common? They are instinctual; your dog just knows how to do it.
However, you may be surprised to learn that swimming does not fall under this category. Nope, even dogs that are bred for swimming (waterfowl hunting dogs, such as retrievers) might be a little hesitant of water at first, but once they take a few dips, they are very confident swimmers. On the other paw, we have top-heavy or short-legged dogs, such as bulldogs or dachshunds, who may never swim unless they are actively taught, complete with doggy life jackets to start.
You can spot an uncertain swimmer by the way they appear to use only their front legs. Below the surface, their hind legs will be inefficiently kicking downwards, searching for a foothold, while they attempt to use their front legs to “climb” out of the water, clumsily slapping the surface of the water. Seasoned swimmers will not only use all four legs as they smoothly demonstrate the classic doggy paddle, but if properly equipped, they use their long sturdy tails as rudders too!
If you plan to introduce your dog to swimming, be patient. Your dog may not even like water, and may panic just as an inexperienced human would. Their first time should not be in frigid or choppy water, this will only discourage them. Let them wade into some inviting water at their own pace and give your pooch lots of encouragement and praise, and they will be happily keeping cool all summer long!