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Water Work:
The Introduction to Water
by Don Smail

Don Smail

Get in the water!

Whether it's waders, swim suit, or clothes you can wade in. Get into the water when introducing puppies and young dogs to water. Remember that you are "security" to your puppy, so when in the water the unsure pup may try to climb onto you. This may be a consideration when choosing what to wear. Regardless of what you wear, be prepared to enter the water with your dog.

Be patient when introducing your young dog to water. A few may immediately run into the water and swim while others may take several trips before they're swimming. Most young dogs will be swimming during the first or second experience in the water. Be patient. Read your dog's reaction to water. Let it run in the shallows and splash. Above all, give lots of praise and encouragement… and get into the water!

Don Smail

There are ideal times and places for a pup's introduction to water. A pond or lake is probably better than a river. A river's current may result in more apprehension for the pup. The current can carry a retrieving dummy away from the puppy's mark. The ideal time and place might be at a pond or lake with a gently sloping shoreline that reaches swimming depth at about fifteen feet from shore. Try for a warm, sunny spring or summer day. However, as with many endeavors, the ideal is not often the usual. So if you can get to some water, go no matter what the conditions may be. Just remember to read your dog and note positive or negative reactions… and get into the water with your dog!

People who have "a good dog, but it doesn't like water" possibly forced or threw their dog into the water. Be patient and try to show the dog that the water is fun. If the youngster continues to balk, try teasing it with a retrieving dummy by splashing the dummy in the water and calling excitedly to the dog. Taking the dog to water with other dogs - provided they get along with each other - is probably the easiest way to get dogs splashing and swimming as they run and play. Another idea, which I personally have not tried, is to place pup on the shoreline or preferably an island, get into a boat and row away. As you get farther and farther away, the young dog should jump into the water and try to

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