Swimming, mental and physical training

One of the most powerful training tools in my training program is the pool.  I teach dogs of many different breeds and ages how to swim and be comfortable in the water.  It’s really an incredible sight to see: having up to fifteen dogs from varying backgrounds effortlessly and enthusiastically diving in and out of the water, tails wagging, muscles working, and faces filled with joy.   This may be surprising to some of you, but not all dogs instinctively know how to swim, and it’s important that we teach them.  I will always use a pool as a training tool whether it’s at my home, or the dog sanctuary we’ll soon have, and there are so many reasons why. 

Knowing how to swim is a very important survival skill and if you live near the water, or have a pool, you likely don’t want to spend ten years or more worrying about your dog falling in or drowning due to their natural curiosity and need to be included.  Since not all dogs are natural swimmers, sometimes they’ll need swimming and pool safety lessons the same way kids would need them.  They need to be taught where the shallow end is, where the stairs are, and yes, even how to “doggie paddle.”

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Just as swimming is an excellent way for humans to get fit, it is also an incredible aerobic workout for dogs, keeping them lean, toned and flexible.  The resistance of the water gets your dog’s entire body working which burns calories in far less time than a walk can, and the low impact aspect of swimming keeps their joints healthy. If you live in a really hot and humid area particularly during the summer, swimming not only will cool your dog off, but is also an excellent alternative to walking in the hot sun. It’s vigorous exercise that takes concentration, which will of course always improve your dog’s attitude and behavior.

Physical rehabilitation.
Water therapy helps dogs suffering from so many different health issues whether it be weight problems, chronic conditions, age related issues or injuries, and is particularly great to rehabilitate a dog pre or post surgery.  I actually had one client that needed me to train his dog to stay calm for a few weeks before his leg surgery so I swam that dog every day for exercise.  On the day of surgery, the vet actually told my client that his dog didn’t need to have the surgery after all because the leg was healing on its own all because of the swimming.

Swimming is like the office water cooler for dogs without the gossip. They love to play in the water together, and will often mimic each other, which allows them to really bond with and learn from the other dogs.  It also builds their confidence and trust in you, has a calming effect on their minds and teaches them boundaries and rules quickly. In the pool area they have excellent exposure to all kinds of new distractions and encounters which will help them to become accustomed to the noise and commotion around them such as the high pitched squeals and sudden splashes of kids having fun in the water.

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It’s simply awesome to see a dog enjoying any body of water in such a primal way, and seeing your dog as the animal he truly is will help him blossom into the best dog possible, intensifying your bond.  With a little patience and enthusiasm, your dog will learn to love the water if he doesn’t already, and helping your dog achieve this is one of the best things you can do for his mind, body and spirit.

Teaching a dog to swim video is at this LINK


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