Are you confused by the title? Teaching a labrador to swim? You’ll surely be like why would we want to teach a labrador to swim? Labradors are like water babies. As as soon as they see water even a puddle they will get in it in no time. Labs know how to swim but you’ll be surprised to know that this is not the case with all of them. Some labradors will just wade and you will not see any swimming. Labs who have not experienced swimming before will be needing some guidance to swim and your labrador can be one of them. You should introduce him to swimming, you’ll know if your labrador does need those training sessions or not, and if he does then this article will be of great use to you.
If you are confused about what should be the right age for swimming in this breed then expert advice from your dog’s vet will be helpful. He will tell you the right age for your lab to swim by looking at his size, age, strength, and natural abilities.
As mentioned above labradors are water babies, they can survive well in cold weather and can even swim in icy water but in extreme conditions, you should be wary of what the temperature is of the water they are getting in. They have a natural double-thick coat and a swimmer’s tail which can help them swim.
Advantages of swimming for your lab
- Swimming is an excellent exercise
Swimming can be a great option as an exercise for your lab, it provides muscle strengthening and a good cardiovascular workout. Labradors have a lot of energy, swimming can burn off that extra energy. Just one minute of swimming is equal to four minutes of running, amazing, right? It improves the overall health of your dog. It helps in strengthening the heart and lungs, decreasing inflammation, increasing metabolism, and improving circulation. Your dog will face less injury and have even more fun in the water.
- Stress relieving
Not just physical health but your dog’s mental health is important too and guess what swimming can be helpful in that too. Like humans dogs also need some activities that include playing and something fun, swimming can be the pick for him. A happily worn out dog will most probably go straight to sleep.
- Overweight dogs
It can be difficult to find appropriate exercise for dogs that are overweight. As their muscles and joints are already stressed because of their excess weight. In the case of swimming the water supports most of the dog’s weight. Together with a balanced diet and swimming your canine buddy will eventually lose weight.
- Warm water
Warm water can be very beneficial for your dog’s recovery process by strengthening joints. It facilitates circulation and helps fortify muscles. Swimming in warm water can prove to be a therapeutic exercise for your dog in pain relief. It promotes blood flow and warms the muscles. Many cities provide rehabilitation facilities for your pets, in case you don’t have a heated pool in your house.
- Enjoy summer
You enjoy your summers with cold drinks and swims in the pool with your family. This summer think about your labrador too, teach him swimming so that he can take all the benefit of the summer, this will relieve him from the scorching heat of the sun of midday.
Tips to train your lab for swimming
- Location is important
The location where your lab is starting to learn swimming is important, he should be comfortable with the location. Your own background pool will be an excellent choice. Even if you are outside your house make sure that you make him comfortable initially.
- Take a vest
Don’t forget to carry a vest for him, he will feel more comfortable and safe with it. Vests that come with a handle on top will be more appropriate because you can pull him anytime out of the water.
- He should know the commands
Before taking him to swim, you should teach him some basic commands such as sit, leave, stand, stay, and leave it. He will feel more comfortable in water if he already knows the basic command. He will think of you as a pack leader and will have trust in you, even more, when you will train him to swim.
- Rewards for him
A generous amount of dog treats will definitely come in handy. Keep his rewards ready after a session of swimming and you should give these rewards to him only after swimming lessons.
- Introduction to water
Introducing him to water at an early age will be a smart move, a move that will give results when he comes to age. When your lab is still a puppy, you can fill a child’s pool with water that should cover his chest. You can throw water at his face so that he can be familiar with the sensation of being wet. Tossing a small ball in the pool, that he can fetch will be helpful too. The best toy for this will be a soft, waterproof toy in the shape of a fish or a bird because it will be easy for him to fetch.
- Support them
If you have a lake or ocean near your house, take your lab buddy with you to the shore and both of you can walk together in the shallow water. Having you by his side, he will feel safer to be in the water.
- Dog obedience school
Six months of age should be enough to get your dog an admission to a dog obedience school. He will meet other dogs there, this socialising will help him notice how other dogs swim and this observation will definitely come in handy when he will start swimming.
Dog obedience school will also help him learn more commands, get the needful exercise, and mental stimulation.
- Work your way up
To teach your labrador retriever to swim will be far too easy than any other dog as they are brave, risk-takers and predominantly most of them love water. What you should focus on is that he should take one step at a time and should work his way up. He can achieve this by starting to walk on shallow water and eventually diving into the sea.
- Appreciate his efforts
Labs of all age will act even better when their efforts are timely appreciated, this can serve as an advantage for you. Go overboard with appreciation sometimes, use a clicker if you want. You can click it every time he shows some improvement.