How To Introduce Your Puppy To Water

For most mammals, the mother teaches their babies about life and what to do in certain situations. When you adopt a puppy, you take over for their momma, which is a big responsibility. If you’ve just adopted a p[uppy, there’s a good chance you’re discovering this as we speak.

For example, as your pup’s new surrogate mom (or dad), you have to teach them manners, socialize them with other dogs and people, and many other items they need to know. You have to train them to go potty outside and that there are certain things they can’t chew to pieces.

You also need to teach your puppy about dangerous situations. For example, teaching your pup not to run out into the street is vital for obvious reasons. 

If you live where it snows, introducing your puppy to snow for the first time is a must. Most puppies will love it, but most only after they realize that the snow isn’t going to hurt them. The same goes for ice, like an icy driveway or a frozen-over lake.

I was thinking about this the other day while responding to questions from readers like yourself. One, who lived near the ocean, and another who had a pool in their backyard, asked the same interesting question; how to introduce your puppy to water.

As with many questions that aren’t a “yes or no” answer, there are several different methods to introduce a puppy to water. Experts recommend taking your time, going very slowly, and not rushing so that your pup doesn’t develop a fear of the water. 

If you live on or very close to the water, teaching your puppy how to swim is essential. Also, remember that while many dogs love the water, some don’t. Determining if your pup likes or dislikes the water will help for future reference.

To find out more about how to introduce your puppy to water, please keep reading. I have tips, step-by-step instructions, and advice below that will be very helpful. How to introduce your puppy to the pool, for example, as well as to the beach, river, etc., are all covered.

Why Does my Puppy Not like Water?

Many puppies love water and are drawn to it, playing, splashing, and swimming like ducks in a pond. Some, however, don’t like water at all and are even afraid of it. There is a myriad of reasons for this behavior, although the most common include:

  • Unpleasant bath experiences. If your pup has had problems taking a bath and you’ve forced them to endure it, they might develop a fear or even hostility toward the water.
  • Their particular personality. Some puppies and dogs simply don’t like the water and never will. (And that’s OK.)
  • Anxiety in new situations. Let’s say your pupper has never seen anything bigger than a sink full of water. Introducing them to an ocean, lake, or even a stream might cause them to become anxious.
  • Traumatic experiences. If your puppy was ever traumatized by water, perhaps being thrown into a pool or lake unexpectedly, they can have an unreasonable fear of the water.

How to Introduce Your Puppy to the Pool

The first and most important rule to follow when introducing your puppy to a swimming pool is never to throw them in. While some might argue that dogs innately know how to swim, throwing them into a pool without warning can be extremely traumatizing.

It’s much better and highly recommended to slowly introduce them to a pool. To do that, follow these easy steps:

  1. While on a leash, bring your puppy to the edge of your swimming pool and get in yourself. This should be an easy access area that your puppy can use to get back out easily after they are in the water.
  2. Coax them to come into the shallow end, which should not be able to cover their entire body. Then, lead them back out again.
  3. Repeat step #2 as often as necessary until your puppy is secure in the fact that they can get in and out of the water easily.
  4. If your puppy seems anxious, you can use a toy or treat to encourage them to enter the pool.
  5. As they feel more secure, you can bring your puppy into a deeper part of the pool.
  6. Depending on the size of your puppy, the amount of water it takes to reach its head will differ. Whatever depth that happens to be, you can carry your puppy at first with their head well above the water so they can breathe.
  7. Most puppies will innately start to do the “doggy paddle” at this point. Some, however, might not use their back legs. If they don’t, you can touch their legs and move them back and forth to help your pup realize they can and should use their back legs.
  8. Remove your arm as support and, if they’re OK, let your puppy swim. Guiding them back to the exit point of your pool might be necessary.

How to Introduce Your Puppy to the Beach

Like a pool, the first time your puppy visits the beach can be an exciting and slightly anxiety-provoking experience. As with pools and other bodies of water, some dogs will absolutely love the beach the first time, while some might be scared out of their minds. Below are some simple steps to make this a fun experience for you and your puppy:

  1. First, make sure that puppies and dogs are allowed on the particular beach you want to use. 
  2. Bring plenty of fresh water for your puppy to drink, as saltwater will make them thirsty.
  3. Keep a watchful eye for anything on the beach that might be hazardous, including jellyfish, fishing gear, etc.
  4. Be sure the surf at your beach isn’t dangerous. A rollicking, hard crashing surf is not the best to introduce your puppy to the ocean.
  5. If they listen well, approach the water’s edge with your puppy off-leash. Do the same, but with your puppy on a leash if they don’t listen well.
  6. Don’t go into the water directly but allow your puppy to experience a wave coming in and going back out.
  7.  If they seem fine and want to go further in, you can take your puppy further into the surf.
  8. If they’re OK and the surf is safe, you can take your pup off their leash.
  9. Let your pupper splash around and have fun, but keep a very close eye on them just in case. A rogue wave, for example, could quickly bowl them over and suck them out to sea. (It’s happened.)

How to Introduce your Puppy to Rivers

The same introduction methods for pools and the ocean hold for rivers. The only real difference depends on the river itself. Many rivers move quickly and can swiftly take your pup downstream if you’re not careful. 

If your pup hasn’t had much practice swimming, staying close and keeping them on a leash is recommended. Besides that, going slowly, allowing them to get accustomed, and using treats all work well and will help your pup acclimate and hopefully enjoy swimming in a river.

Final Thoughts

How to introduce your puppy to water is an essential skill you should learn as a puppy parent. Even though the average puppy will be able to swim immediately, introducing them to any body of water too quickly can be traumatic and cause your pup to be afraid of the water in the future. 

It’s essential that you take it slow, be very patient, and allow your puppy to acclimate to water at their own pace. It’s also important to realize that some puppies will never like the water no matter what you do, and that’s okay too.

I hope today’s blog was very helpful and answered all of your questions about how to introduce your puppy to water. If you have more or would like to learn more about how to raise a puppy, please see my other blogs. I do my best to fill them with real-world, actionable, and useful information. Until next time, best of luck in your new role as a puppy parent!