German Shepherds Forum banner

1 - 17 of 17 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,384 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
The first time I took Newlie swimming, he was scared and flailed around a little at first, but once we got him chasing balls, he was fine, and we never had to put a life jacket on him again. But I took Rocky swimming yesterday and it didn't go real well. He was obviously very scared, despite the guy being in there with him and helping him. He paddled his float over to me where I was sitting on the steps and hid his face between my legs. Whenever the guy tried to ease him off the float, he would flail around and looks so scared that I ended up going in the pool with him fully clothed. That might have helped a little. We could not get him focused on balls or anything else. After a little bit of time, he looked a little calmer as long as he was on the float, and a time or two, even had a couple of minutes off the float when he wasn't paddling wildly.

So now, I am a little torn about whether to try it again or just let it go. It's further complicated by the fact that the pool is usually for dogs that board there, but they made an exception for me and Rocky. I happened to be off from work yesterday, but normally I would have to take him on a Saturday and the pool would probably be booked up by boarders. As the summer winds down, there might be a chance us us getting in, but by that time he may have forgotten, and it doesn't seem right to put him through "first time scares" over and over again. If I am going to do this, I would rather take him several times in a row to see if he would get used to it.

The only other doggie pool I know in town is under renovation and probably won't be open to next summer. Their pool is not just for boarders so I am thinking it might be best to wait till next year.

Thoughts?
 

Attachments

·
Registered
Joined
·
7,134 Posts
What is the access to the water like? Is it stairs or a ramp? Have you tried taking him to a lake or river with a gradual change of depth? For my dogs that didn't take to swimming like an otter from the get go, starting from a shallow beach area helped.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
768 Posts
What is the access to the water like? Is it stairs or a ramp? Have you tried taking him to a lake or river with a gradual change of depth? For my dogs that didn't take to swimming like an otter from the get go, starting from a shallow beach area helped.
Agree^^ We've always started off very young at lakes usually w/sandy beach areas where we could walk out in the shallows so the pup got used to getting his feet and legs wet to start...always having a ball or a toy around that they enjoyed.. that would float.....slow-shallow and easy is important in the beginning IMO...as time went by on days we went to the water my wife or I would wade out far enough we knew the pup would have to swim to us....and call the dog to us...praise the dog and head back towards the shore.......then repeat again and again overtime...never had one that wasn't a decent swimmer as with most things some instant "ducks" and others took a little longer...looking at it through human eyes I can see how a pool where the dog can't stand...could scare some dogs when they're trying to get used to the water.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
428 Posts
What is the access to the water like? Is it stairs or a ramp? Have you tried taking him to a lake or river with a gradual change of depth? For my dogs that didn't take to swimming like an otter from the get go, starting from a shallow beach area helped.
Same here. Jack isn't a duck or an otter at all and still flails around a bit until he remembers what to do. We have a lake near us with a nice gradual beach. It took us something like a year and a half to get him to swim out 50 yards to get a ball (which comes out to about 25 visits to that lake). A LOT of very slow, gradual introductions to deeper and deeper water. It took so much encouragement every time we pushed him past his comfort zone, and he would cry and moan and whine like he was being stared down by a bear or asked to jump out of a plane. Especially once he started actually paddling further than he could float.

So, OP, Rocky could be a lot like Jack. He's not a natural swimmer when it comes to actual swimming. He might be a natural splash around and play in the water dog, but a swimming dog, perhaps not. It's going to take some work to get him to be happy swimming.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
81 Posts
Strange how some dogs readily take to the water and others no so.

With our 2yo GSB adopted on 13jul, hes been leashed while watching me dive in the pond daily. However the other day, 27jul, we put him on a long line so if he chose to, he could wade into the water up to his chest, and he did that.

Today I took him out for an exercise cart run and after ward when hooked up to to water rope he went right in and played there for a half hour or so.

Tomorrow when I dive in the wife will let saint loose to go in the pond if he shows an interest and we'll see how it goes.

I've always been told that dogs are natural swimmers as long as you don't force them into the water they will enjoy it's cooling properties. That why I warn Saint up with light to mod exercise first.

fingers crossed.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
9,730 Posts
The pool thing --- being pulled off a float --- I could see how a dog would not like that. I'd think you'd have better luck with natural water with the humans wading in and playing around a bit. Focus off the dog.
yes, this! My experience is that they need to be motivated from the inside out and need to figure it out on their own. "helping" them in the water (who is "this guy", a trainer?) tends to make them panicky if they are already insecure to start with.
Build on what he is comfortable with and he doesn't need to fully get it before the summer is over. He has many more years to learn.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,758 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,384 Posts
Discussion Starter #11
Thanks for all the responses!

The pool I took Newlie to had a ramp, this one had three stairs leading down into the pool. That may be another reason to wait for the other pool to open back up.

I am going to get him a little baby pool for the backyard to see he will splash around in that and I may even take him to the park I mentioned in an earlier thread that had moving water where he could touch bottom but still get used to it. Letting him see another dog swimming is a good idea, too! I don't live anywhere near an ocean or bay or anything like that and I am not sure I would want him in some of the rivers around here.

No, the guy wasn't a trainer, he just swims the dogs at the pool. But he was very kind and patient with Rocky, bringing the float to him and holding him against his body when he was off the float, He got scratched up pretty good, too, by Rocky's toenails for his efforts. He actually never pulled Rocky off the float, he would put some wait on the float which would allow rocky to slip off of it a little bit.

It may be that swimming is not something he will ever get used to, but I would like to try, it's would be such good exercise for him. But you all are right, there is no hurry, time to take a step back.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,731 Posts
Ziva wasn't a natural swimmer either. When she was about 6 months old we drove an hour to the ocean. put her on the long line and lead her to the surf. She was cautious going to the water. Wave came and it was over just like that. She ran up the beach and wouldn't go near the water. Give her a puddle and she is in it before you can blink so we were a bit surprised she wouldn't go in. Moving water was just too scary.
Then we took her to a zero entry pool that was having a dog swimming charity event. Tons of dogs swimming around. It took some work but she started to get the hang of things.
What really worked was taking her to a beach on a river. We went in the water with her. Took her favorite chuck it ball and tossed the ball back and forth. She wanted the ball so bad she started swimming to who ever had the ball. Mind you we were only in waist deep water. After some practice we worked on retrieving. She loves the water but she wasn't always the most graceful swimmer. She learned.

Personally, I think the mat float was probably causing more fear than needed. Most dogs don't float on things in the water like people do. It might be better to coax to the stairs, then down one or two coaxing with a toy floating on the water right in front of him. Then let the toy drift away a bit. If he really wants his toy he'll likely try to get it. Takes time but once he gets it he probably won't want to get out of the water.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
587 Posts
Are the rivers too fast or nasty? I'd say natural water or somewhere shallow would be better for learning.

Also that method sounds very dangerous! I would not teach or encourage a dog to swim to you and cling to you. We had a Great Dane that was apparently taught that as a puppy as we found out when we took her swimming at a lake. She swam out to my dad and just about drowned him trying to climb up onto him for safety.

I think the other methods recommended of taking it slow are a great idea. Is he has a favorite toy or likes to fetch perhaps work on having him fetch that in very shallow water? Or sit in shallow water and let him come up around you. Which is much different than holding him.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
122 Posts
Introduced Pepper to a lake at a boat ramp, she would go into her chest just touching. Threw a ball in, it was floating slowly away, told her to get it. She looked at me like I should go get it, kept telling her to, she stood there and looked at it, I could see she finally made up her mind and went deeper and swam out and got it. Been a happy swimmer ever since.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,731 Posts
Are the rivers too fast or nasty? I'd say natural water or somewhere shallow would be better for learning.

Also that method sounds very dangerous! I would not teach or encourage a dog to swim to you and cling to you. We had a Great Dane that was apparently taught that as a puppy as we found out when we took her swimming at a lake. She swam out to my dad and just about drowned him trying to climb up onto him for safety.

I think the other methods recommended of taking it slow are a great idea. Is he has a favorite toy or likes to fetch perhaps work on having him fetch that in very shallow water? Or sit in shallow water and let him come up around you. Which is much different than holding him.
I'm guessing this was in reference to my post.

I'll try to explain better:

No the river was not fast. It is public access beach for humans and dogs on the James River. We were in water no higher than my waist and I'm only 5'5" so less than 3 foot depth. It wasn't so much as swimming to us as it was her swimming to get the ball (never said we taught her to cling to us). My husband and I were standing about 6 feet apart tossing the ball to each other. Almost monkey in the middle style. Once she became interested enough to really want her ball she started to swim to who ever had it so she could steal it away. So if she was by me I would toss the ball to DH and she would swim in that direction and get the ball. The ball was her reward. We did this in shallow water and short distance so she couldn't drown if she panicked or tired. The focus was always on the ball not the humans. Wasn't dangerous. Have since taken her to the ocean many times and she does just fine. If she swims out to me or DH she swims up to or around us but not onto us.
 

·
Moderator
Joined
·
4,483 Posts
It may be that swimming is not something he will ever get used to, but I would like to try, it's would be such good exercise for him. But you all are right, there is no hurry, time to take a step back.

My little dog Bailey (whippet / beagle mix) never liked swimming. At one time we had a pool in the backyard and we did bring her out into it a couple of times. That was only so that if she fell in she would know that she could easily swim to the steps and get out. Then we moved to a beach on the Chesapeake Bay. She loved running along the beach but not going into the water. If hubby and I walked along the beach and had to go out into the water to go around a fallen tree, she would go through, under or over the tree. Oddly enough, sometime during the last couple of months of her life she actually followed us out into the water to go around the tree. It was like she was checking something off of her bucket list. We were so proud of her.

So for us the important thing was that she knew that she could swim if she ever needed to.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
7,248 Posts
I can see why rocky would not want to swim in a pool with some strange man with his owner watching. Does not sound like much fun. A body of water similar to the calm bay is the best way to get dogs used to the water. I found my dogs just followed me in. Luna loves the bay. Max loves the ocean waves and the bay. Luna will swim in the ocean on a calm ocean day when she is with Max. It would help rocky see another dog play in the water- help him push aside any uneasiness- a great idea. Also to see you in the water could relax him and help trust the water more. I know you mentioned you have no bays. I know some places have beautiful springs if that is a option. They do sell the collapsible kiddie intex pools- All different sizes. The pool might work in your back yard more relaxed setting, no focus or pressure on the dog to have fun. Some dogs just do not like the water and never -will just like people -it’s good to introduce them to see if they like it or not. I love the water and like to swim so I think also my dogs get that vibe from me to.
https://www.target.com/p/intex-10-x-30-easy-set-above-ground-pool-with-filter-pump/-/A-16343677?ref=tgt_adv_XS000000&AFID=google_pla_df&CPNG=PLA_Sports+Shopping&adgroup=SC_Sports&LID=700000001170770pgs&network=g&device=m&location=9004572&gclid=EAIaIQobChMI8c2yvOvE3AIVWAOGCh1o1Qs1EAQYGyABEgJ95vD_BwE&gclsrc=aw.ds
 
1 - 17 of 17 Posts
Top