When Can Puppies Learn To Swim?

Two puppies playing at the beach

Who’s ready for the pool party?

Com’on, who else wishes to have some enjoyable time with his/her dog while playing inside the water? I believe swimming with my dog is one of the sweetest things I can ever do.

However, we are always afraid to take the first steps. While dogs are proven to be excellent swimmers, we can just take a dog and throw him in the pool. Instead, we have to start slowly.

Another thing is that we have to know the best time that a dog can start swimming without any problem, and that’s why we need to learn when puppies can really learn to swim.

Best Time To Start Introducing Your Puppy To Water

When can puppies learn to swim? It is best to introduce your puppy to water at the age of two months old. He should not exceed the age of 5 months before his first introduction to water.

While some people claim that the puppy should wait until six months old to be grown up, scientists disagreed.

Unfortunately, it was found that the safest period to introduce your puppy to water shouldn’t exceed five months old. After that, your puppy can start developing a fear of water.

So if you wait until he is six months old, you could make your puppy afraid of water.

Introduce A Puppy To Water The Right Way

How to introduce your puppy to water?

While puppies (dog in general) are naturally good swimmers, you can’t take your puppy and just throw him yelling, “LET’S SWIM.”

You have to understand that you need to introduce your puppy to water slowly and correctly. Otherwise, you will destroy your dog’s natural instinct.

That’s why I recommend following this guide to introduce your dog water:

How to introduce a puppy to water

Time needed: 1 day

  1. Start slowly.
    I recommend beginning in the backyard with a hose. Don’t throw water on the puppy, just pick up the hose and let him come near it himself.

    You can give him a treat every time he approaches the water happily.

  2. Make water fun.
    Now once your puppy starts to get along with water, show him that it’s lovely. Let him chase you with water.

    Make sure that water is perceived as a game and not as a duty.

  3. Now start introducing your puppy to the pool.
    Never leave your dog in the pool.

    What I mean here is to pick up your puppy and start moving inside the pool. Make sure that only his legs are inside the water and that he is comfortable and happy.

    If he shows fear, then back off and start slower

  4. Repeat.
    step 3 multiple times until you see that your dog is starting to move his legs. This way, you can let your dog a little more immersed in water.

    Let him start swimming, but keep your hand below him in case of an emergency. Also, make sure that the water isn’t hot or cold.

  5. Start introducing toys.
    A lot of dogs have a problem with the pool that they think it’s a dull place. You need to teach him that the pool is a wonderfully exciting place.

    Playing with him inside the pool will be beautiful.

  6. Training.
    You have to make sure that your dog has the basic obedience classes before teaching him how to swim.

    Otherwise, your dog can swim whenever he wants and ignore your commands.

  7. Ignore floating suits now.
    Introducing float equipment, in the beginning, makes it challenging for your dog to stop wearing them. I recommend letting your dog explore water and learn to swim by himself.

    This way, you can make sure that your dog won’t actually depend on floating suits.

I believe the above guideline will work smoothly with the ideal dogs. However, some situations will need a different treatment (which I will cover in the next section.)

You can also check this awesome video by Zak George while teaching a dog how to swim:

Zak George Training his dog to swim

Situations That Go Wrong

Lots of times, there will be some issues with your puppy like he won’t love the pool or will be afraid of water.

In those cases, you will have to stop the previous training and start thinking about the best way to figure out the solution.

Mainly, you can have two problems here:

Your puppy is afraid of water:

A puppy afraid of water

This is the hardest problem to solve.

Breaking a puppy’s fear is challenging; however, the early you address the puppy’s anxiety, the better.

Therefore, you should never give up trying to teach your dog to swim because he is afraid. This is unfair.

Basically, what I did to solve my dogs issue is that I used indirect water.

For example, I will wash my hands and then come and play with her excessively to make her wet. Or I will start throwing some water on her body while running to learn that we are playing.

Then I will increase the level a bit, by using more until we start bathing. If the dog seemed ok to have a shower, then he will be ready to swim.

However, take care that your dog might not be afraid but just don’t like water. Also, the water might be very hot or cold for your dog, which makes him uncomfortable.

Also, your dog or the breed might not actually be very tolerating of water. Therefore, it’s ok to leave your dog alone and not force him.

However, if your dog is ok with everything but shows issues once in the pool, you have another problem.

Your puppy is afraid of pool, and not of water:

This is much easier than the first issue.

This one means your dog isn’t brave enough to jump in the pool. Therefore, the easiest thing is to fill your tub and let your puppy inside it.

Another thing is to use floating suits to make your dog more confident of himself. I really recommend throwing your puppy’s favorite toys in the pool and encouraging him to get them.

While this is easier to deal with, never try to suddenly throw the dog into the pool. This can really build a horrible experience in your puppy’s memory.

Safety Precautions For Safe Swimming With Your Pup

You always need to follow safety guidelines that will ensure your puppy’s safety.

While lots of people think that they are annoying, they are as essential as dog training. Those guidelines allow you to have a fun time with your dog, free of any concerns or fear.
Ignore swimming after any exercise

Swimming requires dogs to exert lots of energy. However, if you had a long walk with your dog or a good playing session, your dog can barely move. So this is not the right moment to swim with him.

You will be risking his life by doing so as his muscles might not be able to continue and, therefore, drown easily.

Don’t start going to open water areas like lakes unless your dog completely listens to you. Otherwise, your dog will be at significant risk of running away and ignoring your orders.

Put your pup on the leash in open areas:

if you believe that your dog isn’t ready yet to roam around the lake alone, keep the leash. This way, you will make sure that your dog sticks to you while enjoying the water.

Never leave your dog swim alone:

If you have a pool area that is open to the backyard, make a fence around it. Make sure that your dog isn’t able to jump into the pool without your supervision.

As said, dogs are great swimmers, but today’s dogs don’t have the same abilities as their ancestors. Therefore, it’s best to take care of them until you trust them completely.

How to exit the pool!?

Whenever you get into the pool with your puppy, you have to ask yourself this question. That’s because, a lot of times, puppies want to exit because they are exhausted and find themselves trapped.

Therefore, if you find that the pool is too large, you need to think about how will the puppy manage to get out of it if he is in the middle?

If the water level in the pool is low and you can’t get out of the pool quickly by jumping on the edges again, it determination not be safe for your puppy.

Sticking to your puppy’s side in the pool until he reaches six months old is really recommended. That way, you can get the puppy out once he feels exhausted.


Nothing can be funnier than swimming with your puppy. We all dream of having fun with our dogs all the time. However, training has to be slow and consistent.

Puppies and dogs are natural swimmers; however, you have to slowly build their confidence so that you won’t create any Phoebe of water.

Remember to always check our previous articles and let us know if your puppy loves swimming in the comments!

Erwin Borgers

Hi, I’m Erwin. I grew up with two cats, but I always wanted to have a dog. Since my wife and I lived together, we have Mayla. She is a very sweet King Charles Spaniel. Together we spend countless of hours in the forest near our home. We love to walk together and now I want to share what I learned about walking dogs and what I learned about dog gear with you.

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