Most dogs, even non-gun dogs, enjoy water. There are, however, a few precautions you should take when introducing your puppy to it for the first time. With just a little forethought you can ensure that your dog will always love working in and around water.First, make sure your puppy is mature enough to handle going into the water and that it’s safe. Having her shots could help protect her from many water-based bacteria. Make sure that the area has a gently sloping bank that the pup can use to enter. You don’t want her to explore water for the first time and suddenly step off into the deep blue yonder. Any bad experiences in the beginning can have severe repercussions for a long time.
Also make sure that the water is warm enough. It’s a new experience for pup and you want that to be as pleasant as possible. Again, extremely a cold-water introduction could have a negative impact for a long time. In many parts of the country it’s getting warm enough during the day and water temps are rising sufficiently enough to go ahead and start introductions, but in other areas it’s still fairly chilly and those water temps are still pretty cold.
Once you find a good, safe spot that is warm enough, and you’re sure your dog is ready to start swimming, the fun begins!
And fun is what you should make of pup’s first experience. Make it very enjoyable for her and let her go at her own pace. Let her explore and ease down the gently sloping bank. Toss a favorite toy for her to go get; don’t throw it into too deep of water, but just far enough that she goes a little bit deeper each time.
Get in the water yourself. As her primary focus in life, your presence in the water helps reassure her that everything is okay and that it’s a pleasant and safe place to play. Splashing and playing with her toy will keep her confident and excited.
Don’t try to do it all in the first session. If she only goes in up to her chest and is reluctant to go deeper, it’s no big deal. Come back on another warm day after some playing, when she’ll want to cool off, and try again.
If you’re still having difficulties with her confidence around water, enlist the help of an older dog that enjoys it. Pick a warm day, do some playing and bring both dogs down to the water. Let the older dog lead the way and show her what’s going on. Natural curiosity and pack mentality should help significantly.
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