Some dogs love water, others, not so much. It has everything to do with their genes. Some dog breeds were specially bred to do well in the water. Take Labrador retrievers for example. As the name of the breed suggests, they were bred to retrieve game. Hunters needed a dog that could go after a shot bird no matter where it fell. Sometimes, this meant going into the water to retrieve it.
Obviously, these days, Labradors and similar breeds are thought of as pets, not gun dogs, however, the skills they were thought are still there. They still like retrieving stuff, which you can notice when playing a game of fetch with your Labrador. Even if that involves getting into water.
However, not all dogs are like this. Some, are simply terrified of water. Again, the answer why that is the case lies in their genes. Dogs were domesticated some 15,000 years ago; before that, they were very similar to the wolves as we know them today. And such, they felt most comfortable on terra firma, not in water. Actually, swimming was not a big problem for them (nor is today for most dog breeds), but what might be creeping under the water surface still scares them.
Of course, your pup really has no reason to be afraid of water. There are no crocodiles swimming in your pool or electric eels in the washbowl. His fear of water is completely unfounded. And same as every other phobia, this fear can be conquered. But for that, he needs the help of his owner. Here are some ways through which you can help him fall in love with water.
Bribe Him with His Favorite Food
Dogs love eating. They love it so much that sometimes they forgot to stop when their bellies are full. Many of them aren’t picky; if there’s food available, they’re gonna eat it. But, even if your pup is always hungry, it doesn’t mean that he doesn’t have his favorite meals. And he’s ready to do anything to get it.
What we’re saying is that if your pup would do anything to get away from a bath, you can confuse him by giving him his favorite treat. And while he’s occupied with enjoying his favorite snack, you can give him a bath. Eventually, he’ll start associating baths with good food, so he’ll be more than willing to get into the tub.
Bait Him with Food
Some dogs have no intention of coming near water, but you can trick him to forget about his fear. How? By putting his favorite food near water. And once he gets there, you should seize the moment and grab him. Of course, you mustn’t do anything extreme, as taking a bath can be really frustrating for a dog that’s afraid of water.
Instead, once you get him to come near water, you need to show him there’s nothing to worry about. Cuddling him or grooming his coat while introducing him to all the charms of water can do wonders, eventually helping him to conquer his fear.
Get Into Water with Him
Dogs surely love food but there’s one thing they love even more – their owner. Your dog would give his life for you, so you might use his unconditional love to make him forget about his fear of water. If you get into water, he might follow!
If you’re planning to give him a bath, why not pour some water over yourself, showing him there’s nothing he should be afraid of. If you want to get him to swim, why not go together? This isn’t just to get him into water, but also to ensure his safety.
Ensure His Safety
Maybe your dog’s fear of water is not unfounded, maybe he’s afraid of it because he’s a bad swimmer. There are more than 200 different dog breeds, some of which are great swimmers, some of which are not. If your pup belongs to the latter category, the chances are that he would do anything to stay away from water, no matter how shallow it might be.
But, how can you find out whether your four-legged pal is a swimmer? You can’t just chuck him in water, he might drown. Instead, you should get him into water (lake, river, sea) only after taking care of his safety.
Things you’ll need to buy include a dog lifejacket and a LED dog collar, such as the one designed by Australian pet brand Dogaloo. Why would he need a lifejacket? The answer is obvious – to stay afloat. Why he needs a LED dog collar? So, that you can find him if he decides to swim far or if current takes him away from you.
When it comes to dealing with phobias, the trick is in overcoming them gradually. If you’re afraid of flying, you will overcome your fear over time. The more your fly, the less scary it gets. It’s similar when it comes to helping your dog overcome his fear of water.
Walking your pup through shallow water could be a good method of showing him that there’s nothing he should be afraid of. Even getting just his paws wet could be the first step to conquering his fear.
Get Him in Company of Water-Loving Dogs
Dogs are social creatures, they love hanging out with people, but also with other dogs. And they often emulate other dogs’ behavior. So, if your pup spends a lot of time in the company of water-loving dogs, he might decide to follow their example.
Let It Go
There probably isn’t any major reason why you would like your dog to become a good swimmer. If it’s going to make him frustrated, why do it? Instead of swimming together, you can have fun with your pup in many other ways.
And if the reason why you wish him to become a water-lover is to keep him clean, why not consider waterless dog shampoos? These shampoos are in the form of foam that requires no rinsing. Such a shampoo will provide cleansing for his coat and act like moisturizers for his skin, without causing any psychological trauma.
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