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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So, on Saturday, Winston is accompanying me to a family picnic/party at my cousin's house on the river. He's never been swimming before, but I KNOW he's going to love it because he wallows in any puddle he can find. My question is, if he winds up going in deep enough (if I let him), will he instinctively know how to swim? Is there anything I should do or look out for to make his first visit to the river a success?
 

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Every dog I've ever known has instinctively known how to swim. What you do want to watch for is that occasionally they will panic the first time they actually have to swim. I'd just make sure to have him leashed the first time so if he panics you can pull him out. When Echo was only 8 weeks old, if she even saw water, she'd start doing the doggie paddle. It was so cute.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Okay, that's what I figured, I just wanted to make sure. I've had dogs all my life, and I'm sure some of them must have gone swimming at some point, but THIS dog, my gosh...I'm so silly over him! It's like I gave birth to him! LOL!

Thanks!
 

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Almost every dog I've known seems to instinctually know how to swim, though there have been a couple of exceptions to that rule. Years ago one of my cousins had a boxer and wanted to see if he could swim. Her stupid boyfriend at the time just tossed him into our pool and he sank to the bottom. The boyfriend had to jump in and get him immediately because he just sat at the bottom of the pool in a sitting position with bubbles coming up. Similar thing with my friend's greyhound- he made no attempt to swim when he fell in the pool and just sank. I've known a couple of dogs who didn't really know to use their back legs properly, so sort of struggled to swim along with their front legs.

Still, most of them seem to catch on very quickly with zero instruction. Not all dogs that like water will it when they have to actually swim vs simply wade and splash around in it, but most of them CAN swim. The first time we tried to get my parents' Chihuahua to swim he started kicking his back legs and paddling his front legs while we were simply holding him above the water... he hadn't even gotten wet :p
 

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No, not all dogs can swim. Many bulldogs, boxers and some dachshunds can't swim - they will not stay afloat and will just drown. Some dogs can swim but shouldn't (brachy breeds gets tired really fast, some small dogs body heat drops way to fast etc).
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Okay, good to know. Winston is 1/2 Lab, 1/4 Boxer, 1/4 Pit Bull. He has characteristics of all three breeds, it's hard to say which one he favors the most, he's a complete mixture. He's 62 pounds of lean athletic dog. But I will definitely have him on a leash. I'm thinking of picking up one of those retractable long kind just for this outing to let him get into the water. Also, I'll probably go in with him and that way if he gets in trouble I'll be right there to rescue him.
I've even thought about getting him a life vest! LOL! I think I'm losing my mind.
 

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Every dog I've had knew how to swim without lessons. Simba learned in our pool I just had him chasing me and jumped in and told him "Come" several times and he jumped in. I then walked out of the pool via the stairs and he followed me. And he's never had problems since.

If you teach a dog to swim in the pool, make sure you're big enough to manage the dog and in a shallow enough spot that you can touch. Your dog will probably try to drown you. This obviously needs to be trained out of the dog before allowing him to swim with kids or little people. If you're ever swimming with a dog and he or she tries to grab onto you, dive. They won't follow and will rather look for some way out of the water.
 

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Every dog I've had knew how to swim without lessons. Simba learned in our pool I just had him chasing me and jumped in and told him "Come" several times and he jumped in. I then walked out of the pool via the stairs and he followed me. And he's never had problems since.

If you teach a dog to swim in the pool, make sure you're big enough to manage the dog and in a shallow enough spot that you can touch. Your dog will probably try to drown you. This obviously needs to be trained out of the dog before allowing him to swim with kids or little people. If you're ever swimming with a dog and he or she tries to grab onto you, dive. They won't follow and will rather look for some way out of the water.
Good tip thanks. Ella has tried to drown me numerous times. Swims out to me and tries climbing on my back, ouch. Don`t know why I didn`t think of that. Clever!
 

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No, it's not instinct in everydog and it's not just limited to certain breeds. My border collie had no clue what he was doing the first few times. Walking/running into the water was fine, but moving anywhere deeper consisted of random flailings until he figured out what worked. He had a life jacket on that supported him, and I kept a close eye on him so I allowed him to figure out what to do. That being said, temperamentally, he is not prone to panic. I wouldn't try this method with a dog who is.
 

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I'd recommend a good life jacket. I've trained many Labs for field and water work. Most don't automatically swim with an efficient swimming style. They often will paddle their front feet to keep themselves afloat. A dog can become exhausted doing this and some can panic. It can take a few outings for a dog to learn to use all four legs.
 

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Fat floats. [don't ask me how I know this : P ] lol

I would think muscular-normally-naturally lean type dogs like pitpulls, greyhounds, the great dane mentioned here... would be dogs that could probably sink or have a hard time staying afloat. Whereas, dogs like Labs and retrievers, German Shepherds, they seem to have a little layer of fat, even when at a healthy weight, and that helps them out a bit.

Stormy
 

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Hm. I've never imagined a dog couldn't swim before, I mean, I could see brachycephalic breeds or Dachshunds not being able to for long, but not at all? Strange.
My dog is very lean and trim, all muscle, not an ounce of fat an her, and she is an exceptional swimmer. She used to swim for like half an hour at a time or more consistently in my parents' pond(just around and around, so funny), and pretty damn long in the ocean too(have to watch very closely she doesn't go too far out to sea) -- I could NOT get her out of there! Fortunately now that she's older and her recall is better I can call her in when she's swimming in the pond or we're at the beach and she's been in too long, I don't know how I'd live w/ myself if she got too tired out there and drowned. Of course I keep a close eye on her and would jump in and save her if I saw her going down ...thank goodness I've never had to! She has always been a fantastic swimmer.
 

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Look at the typical build of a retriever. Dogs with similar builds can almost always swim swim, dogs with uncommon shapes may or may not be able to.

It's not actually about floating. I've never seen a dog that can just hangout and float like a person can by laying on their back. Dogs are constantly keeping themselves afloat by "doggy paddling" which means dogs with relatively short legs often can't generate enough thrust.
 

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I understand that even lean dogs can swim, and do so very well, and I know dog's don't 'float' like an inner-tube. I'm just saying that I think for some dogs, due to a little fat on them, they probably don't have to expend as much energy to do so. They can paddle a little more slowly and not sink.

And that if a dog does sink, like in the case of that dane puppy, it's probably because of an almost zero fat level...they don't get a few extra seconds to figure out how to move in the water....while a pudgy little golden retriever puppy would probably float a second or two before he started kicking and swimming.

I have a friend who is about the same build and weight as me, but flat chested...Me... I'm not flat chested. There is a good reason why they called life jacket's 'Mae West' jackets when they were first introduced...lol. I and my friend back in our younger days use to go swimming sometimes and in just goofing off in the pool, we once just in deep water, 'stood' in the pool, arms at our side,l without our feet touching the bottom....she would sink...me...nope -so that's how I know that fat floats...lol. I would think that no matter what, a dog with a bit of fat on it would 'float' or maintain it's buoyancy a little easier than a dog with no body fat.

Stormy
 

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Wolves are excellent swimmers, and as these are domestic dogs's closest relatives, I believe it's by default instinct for dogs. From there it depends on their breed. Dogs that have been bred to for very specific purposes have likely lost this ability.
 

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Wolves are excellent swimmers, and as these are domestic dogs's closest relatives, I believe it's by default instinct for dogs. From there it depends on their breed. Dogs that have been bred to for very specific purposes have likely lost this ability.
Unless that purpose is swimming! :D
 

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Staying alive is the instinct that keeps most animals from drowning, if they aren't an aquatic species. Most animals can keep themselves from drowning unless they exhaust themselves trying to stay afloat. Dogs do indeed drown if they are inexperienced swimmers that exhaust themselves with their inefficient swimming style before they can get to land.
 
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