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I've read in a few places, maybe by just some lazy dog owners, saying that if your dog doesn't like water, they probably never will despite hours spent desensitizing. Has anyone gone from a dog that hates being in the water to a dog who willing jumps in the water for their own enjoyment?

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When Dan, the Surfer Dude, came here from mild and dry southern CA - and experienced a wet and chilly WV, he didn't even like walking out in the yard if the grass was wet (or cold). Now, he still doesn't like water, wetness, and cold very much, unless it's worth it to him - he jumps into a cold stock tank when he's hot and panting; stands to be hosed off in all sorts of weather (but if he's heated from exercise or work, he's a lot more willing); lies down in puddles or snow if he's hot; and loves a game of fetch in pond or ocean. Like I said, he likes it if it suits him - he's hot or the game or job makes it worth his while.

 

Does he jump into the water for "fun"? No, but if fun involves the water or it's cooling when he's hot, he's all for it.

 

Others will probably answer who have much better experience than I. My feeling is that if a dog doesn't like water and doesn't need to enjoy it for their own sake or your needs, so what?

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Yes, many. With one a life vest made a huge difference. He didn't like water because he wasn't comfortable swimming. I put a vest on him and carried him out to where I could give him swimming lessons. Once he understood that the vest kept him floating he loved to swim. ETA, he took 2nd place in his first (and only) dock diving competition.

 

A former water hatin' dog.

notagoosedog2.jpg

 

Other dogs have just needed warm/hot days, cool water and other dogs to lure them in. For some, tossing their favorite toy just inches out of reach did the trick. It depends on how toy obsessed they are.

 

I am guessing the people who said that were either basing their experience on a single dog or unwilling to put the work into teaching them to enjoy water.

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My feeling is that if a dog doesn't like water and doesn't need to enjoy it for their own sake or your needs, so what?

 

Good post, Sue. I wouldn't say that I have any better experience than anyone else, but I've got a pup who wasn't keen on water when she was very young. That wasn't going to work for me because we have an irrigation canal right behind my house that I walk all the time, and cross quite a bit, so I need her to be familiar with the water, and a good swimmer in case something happens or she needs to get across it to fetch the sheep or whatever. So I went the more unconventional way ... and instead of desensitizing "for hours," I'd pick her up by the scruff of the neck and the scruff of the ass and toss her in when the other dogs were playing in it, and then ignore it as if it didn't happen, all the while making sure she was ok. Now she has no problem getting in, and as a matter of fact, enjoys it and will do it for the fun of it with my other dogs. Would she have anyway? I don't know. Hard to tell.

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I have one that refused to go in the water and after working really hard with his ball in the water, he now loves to swim. I have another that refused to go in the water and 9 years later still refuses. We live on the lake and she gets really hot in the summer and still will not go in willingly. I think it really just depends on the dog.

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We rescued a Lab, of all things, that didn't want to have anything to do with the water when we first got him. He was already about 2 years old at the time, so it was apparent that his prior owner had not exposed him to water. However, we enjoy going to the beach, lake, and being around the water, so we at least wanted him to be not afraid of it.

 

I think the one thing that got him interested was when we went swimming in a friend's backyard pool. At first, he circled and circled the perimeter - he wanted to be with us SO badly, but did not want to get in the water to get there. Finally, he said "what the heck" and took the plunge.... and now, 4 years later, we can't keep him out of it! He loves to swim and competes in Dock Diving.

 

I have seen people use the "get in the water yourself" method at Dock Diving warm-ups and practices for newbie dogs who are hesitant to take off the dock. Sometimes it works... sometimes it doesn't.

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I taught Dean to swim by throwing a ball parallel to the lake shore where he was learning. Once he got into the game parallel to the water, I started to throw it into the water, but just where he would have to put paws in the water to get it. Once he was happy with that, I threw it in a little further, until he was all the way in. This was over the course of several days. He came to absolutely adore the water and swimming is one of his favorite things. He does not like getting rained on, and he doesn't care for showers, but he loves to swim, and to roll in his sprinkler in the summer.

 

I can't say he hated water before we did that, but he had absolutely no interest in going in before that. So, I would at least say that it is possible for a dog that has no interest in water to develop a real love for swimming.

 

On the other hand, my Lab mix, of all dogs, has never liked getting in water to the point where her feet come off the bottom. She can swim, but usually chooses not to. She enjoys playing in the water where she can touch the bottom, but no amount of experience swimming has changed her mind about it.

 

I'd say this really is one of those depends on the dog things.

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I once "rehabilitated" a dog that was fearful of any body of standing water. She had walked out onto a mesh cover over a koi pond and nearly drowned when the mesh failed and she became entangled in it. Fortunately her owner heard the ruckus and dragged her out in time.

 

I got her back into the water by taking her to the beach with dogs that were a, ball-crazy, and b, great and enthusiastic swimmers. She was also ball-crazy, and the enthusiasm of the other dogs was infectious. The owner and I also got into the water and had treat-fests with the non-fearful dogs. It took the better part of a summer - at least 60 sessions - but she began to venture in eventually, and was praised and rewarded for doing so.

 

The last I saw of her she was a confirmed "swimaholic" - unusual for a Doberman in the first place. But I'm quite sure that if you keep at it you can convince your dog to see the fun part of getting wet.

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I have one dog that loves the water. Tex would dive into a tea cup if he could. He will swim in any and all weather. He will try to smash iced over puddles in the winter in order to get wet. Georgia...not so much. When we go to the beach she will race along the edge of the water. (Meanwhile Tex is swimming to Casablanca.) In general, she prefers not to swim. Not for pleasure anyway. If there's something she wants on the other side or if I've told her to go get 'X' she'll go. If she's gotten too warm for comfort she will get in the water on her own. Every once in a while I'll see her playing witha toy in the doggy pool. But that's a rare day.

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Sue, I don't want a dog that is going to stop midway out on a 700 yard outrun just because there is a full creek in the way.

I doubt that is the issue concerning the OP. Her post gave me no reason to think that her concern was anything about a dog working stock or other essential job. As she said, "Has anyone gone from a dog that hates being in the water to a dog who willing jumps in the water for their own enjoyment?" And, as I said, "My feeling is that if a dog doesn't like water and doesn't need to enjoy it for their own sake or your needs, so what?" (emphases added)

 

Now, is it beneficial that a dog is accustomed to water and is comfortable swimming? IMO, certainly. But that wasn't the question asked.

 

PS - Love that dock-diving pose!

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I've read in a few places, maybe by just some lazy dog owners, saying that if your dog doesn't like water, they probably never will despite hours spent desensitizing. Has anyone gone from a dog that hates being in the water to a dog who willing jumps in the water for their own enjoyment?

 

 

Hmmn...I've got one (that red dog) that had an instant affinity for water. He cannonballs into every scant inch of water he can find without hesitation-- The first time he saw a creek he ran right through it without even stopping to think about what it was, how deep it might be, or if there was a monster in it. But he's a splash monster - a real doggie paddler so I'm not sure his swim style has much endurance.

 

Brodie, on the other hand, was at first cautious about playing in the shallows of the frog pond; waited some time to launch himself from shore (mostly I think because his brother was swamping him with cannonballs. After a few weeks of playing in the shallows, he went into the frog pond on his own because he wanted to follow Ladybug in frog hunting expeditions. When faced with the creek, he stopped dead in his tracks - What's this? He looked at it, decided it wasn't going to hurt him, and went through it without further hesitation. He has a beautiful, easy swimming style - of the two, I'd feel he is the safer one in the water, though because he is so lean, he can't take cold water.

 

To me, their different reactions are always interesting -- Robin is a very physical dog - no hesitation - barriers exist only to be burst through (this is the dog that popped opened the basement door to go for his morning swim last summer). On the other hand, Brodie stops to think...why is this here? What should I do about this? He decides on a course of action and carries it through. He has a great deal of heart.

 

You might get away with a "sink or swim" lesson with Robin, but it would ruin Brodie.

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Our Megan is a water-o-holic. Bute was the same. We had to keep a sharp eye on them when visiting the farm in coastal NC as the two of them would just wade into the creek (which is a tidal creek, and very wide), and take off swimming downstream.

 

Celt, on the other hand, swims only for a purpose - chasing the ball. And he won't go in deep enough to swim unless he feels he has a best chance of getting to the ball first. If it looks like someone will beat him to it, he stands at the edge of the water and bounces around but doesn't go in far enough to have to swim. He loves his stock tank when he's hot and jumps right in, just like Megan.

 

Dan, being fast and very leggy, is always after the ball when we throw it into the water. And he is the dog that had the least affinity to water when we got him. Dan, who is not a jumper, doesn't jump into the stock tank at home, but we'll see if that changes this summer.

 

We try and get the pups used to water when they are young - some seem to take to it right away and some seem to need a reason of their own to want to get in.

 

To the OP, good luck with your dog!

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You might get away with a "sink or swim" lesson with Robin, but it would ruin Brodie.

 

And that's the big thing eh? One method is perfect for one dog, very bad for another Same as some dog's will grow to love water some won't.

 

Jude is big "sink or swim" lesson type. He was angry with skateboards for the longest time, desentisyzing, pshh, didn't work. Finally, I just put him right on it and push him around, gave him a treat, then told him to do it on his own. He gladly runs and jumps on them now.

 

He's a very bold dog, and a "just do it" attitude works much better than baby steps. He's a natural water dog, would be in it all day if I let him. The day he figured out he could run out and dive off the dock, versus running into water from shore and getting less distance was a happy day for him :lol:

 

I would say keep at it, but don't push too much. Just know your dog and listen to what he's telling you. Good luck!

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Being able to swim is a required life skill :) we live in a seaside town and my husband works in the marine industry which means the dogs are by the sea and on docks all the time. So for all our dogs we have wanted them to be comfortable swimming. They don't have to enjoy it just not have a panic attack when they can not touch the bottom. Basically the same reason children are taught to swim.

When we got Rievaulx at 5 months it was winter and we did not give it a second thought why the puppy was making such huge jumps over streams, then spring came and he would bark like a mad man when Brody went swimming, he would not go in the water over his ankles. Every time he got slightly out of his depth he would panic. We did not rush just kept playing games with Brody, I went swimming a couple of times calling him to me, and one day he started to swim and now jumps in just as enthusiastically as Brody. In fact the dogs decided yesterday that swimming season has opened.

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And that's the big thing eh? One method is perfect for one dog, very bad for another Same as some dog's will grow to love water some won't.

 

Jude is big "sink or swim" lesson type. He was angry with skateboards for the longest time, desentisyzing, pshh, didn't work. Finally, I just put him right on it and push him around, gave him a treat, then told him to do it on his own. He gladly runs and jumps on them now.

 

He's a very bold dog, and a "just do it" attitude works much better than baby steps. He's a natural water dog, would be in it all day if I let him. The day he figured out he could run out and dive off the dock, versus running into water from shore and getting less distance was a happy day for him :lol:

 

I would say keep at it, but don't push too much. Just know your dog and listen to what he's telling you. Good luck!

 

The two good things about Robin's fascination with water is that 1) it gave me something really great to practice impulse control with before we started sheep -- if I could stop him from jumping into the water and call him out of the water with a firm "That will do", that lesson would transfer to other situations (and it has) and 2) when our lesson was done and the trainer suggested coaxing him into the stock tank to cool him off, she looked and said, "Oh, he's all ready in it." :).

 

Liz

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I know that wasn't the original question, but I do think that crossing the creek to get the sheep is for my own needs.

Seriously, I have dogs who like water and dogs who don't really care for it, but I've yet to find a dog that refused to go through water to get livestock. One time at Robin's I was using the pond to try to widen Kat, who is not a great swimmer, though she likes the water okay. It was winter and rather than widen out, she went through the pond.

 

Anyway, I think water related to work and water related to play are two different things. I don't make any dog get in the water if it doesn't want to, but as I said, I've never had one refuse to go through water when working. The livestock are another story of course.

 

J.

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I have never had a dog that wouldn't cross a stream when working sheep although some of these same dogs would not swim for fun no matter how they were enticed. Not sure if others have the same experience, but I don't see large parallels between what they will do when working and how they play.

 

Kim

 

ETA: Sorry, missed Julie's post. I agree :rolleyes:

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In this video series (I forget which leg -- Ireland or Scotland -- ) a wide, shallow pool of water is on the field - the dogs can either run around or through it -- it is interesting to watch how each dog handles the obstacle.

 

"Come Bye 2007" - the 2007 International Sheep Dog Trial Championships broadcast by Horse and Country and the International Sheep Dog Society

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"Come Bye 2007" - the 2007 International Sheep Dog Trial Championships broadcast by Horse and Country and the International Sheep Dog Society

 

Not to sidetrack the thread, but Episode One, at 25:00 ... Tim Flood's whistle! How interesting! I've never seen anything like it! It's pretty cumbersome, but it has a lovely tone, it seems.

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When Jackson was a young pup, 4-5 mos, I got him a kiddy pool to cool down in. He wanted no part of it. So I gave him a good work out till he was hot(no, not overly so)then reintroduced the pool. He made the connection almost immediately. Hot+pool=NICE! Skip, no way. He didn't care how hot he was, he wanted no part of the pool. Last year, after a evening session of ball, even though he did not run near as much or hard as Jackson, he started walking like he was drunk. I knew immediately he was in trouble. I got him in the house and into the tub with cool water. He didn't like it, but he did finally realize it was a good thing. He stayed lying down in the water till he cooled off. Jackson will drop a ball in the pool, just so he can dunk his head in to get it. Skip, while he understands the cooling effect of water will never get to that point. I think some dogs just don't like water. I think you can get them to tolerate it, but real joy is only going to be for some dogs.

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Over the years, we've had two "fastidious" dogs - our Rocket and now Dan. Dogs that didn't like to get their feet wet or dirty, and that would skirt puddles and muddy spots. That is until they went to work - when they turned to work, they paid no attention to anything that was extraneous, mud, muck, water, weather, whatever.

 

And swimming is a skill that I think all dogs should learn for instances of "what it?" - but, if you're not going to need it for anything but fun, I still say, "so what?"

 

To the OP, here's hoping you get it worked out to mutual satisfaction!

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And swimming is a skill that I think all dogs should learn for instances of "what it?" - but, if you're not going to need it for anything but fun, I still say, "so what?"

 

I'd say that I want to give all of my dogs a fair shot to understand what being in the water is all about. Knowing how much fun Dean, Speedy, and Sammie have swimming and retrieving toys in the water, I want Tessa to give it a chance. I don't want her to miss out when we go do water things. If she like Maddie, decides she'd rather not, I'll respect that. But I will want to give her a shot to get past the initial "what is this I'm not sure if I like it" response that all of my dogs had when they were first introduced to it. I gave them all plenty of time and let them make the choice to transition from playing in the shallow water to swimming, and but I also provided them with plenty of opportunity to get used to the water enough to make that choice.

 

I guess if asked "so what?" my response would be that it is enjoyable and I want to give her a chance to enjoy it. A lot of our summer recreation centers around taking the dogs swimming, so I hope she will want to take part in that.

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When we got our adult dog we were told he hated water. So we took him to the creek and of course he was scared and refused to get in. I put a slip leash high on his neck and slowly tugged him into the shallow water. I walked in with him and after about 20 minutes (and some treats) he was comfortably walking in about 4 inches of water. The next day we walked in water up to his belly. The 3rd time we took him to the creek my boyfriend and him were swimming together! This was this past fall and since it has been winter he hasn't been able to get swimming in a while. We walked down to the partially frozen creek the other day and he kept pawing at the ice and whining, trying to get in! I can't wait for warmer weather-I think he is going to have so much fun swimming.

 

So, do not give up. Even if there is no real reason your dog needs to swim, I don't believe a dog should be scared of something that could be really fun and will not harm him. On the flip side if he were ever to fall into water and didn't know how to swim then you might be kicking yourself for not teaching him. Plus I find it so rewarding to watch a dog grow and overcome fears.

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