I’ll grab my dogs and take them swimming during these hot summer days and continue right through until the first frost.
My youngest dog, Scooter (ten months old), is encountering summer for the first time along with the opportunity to swim. I introduced him to swimming a couple weeks ago by carrying him into the water. I carried him like a forklift with his body pressed up against mine. I walked and praised him saying “It’s OK… Good boy, Scooter”. My goal was to slowly step into the water and walk until the water met him at a level where he could start to doggie paddle. But, as the water seeped up and in between his claws, his whole body tensed up and started to squirm… This technique didn’t work.
Second attempt was to introduce Scooter to swimming with my crazy water catching, diving dog, Sydney. I take the two dogs to a local pond where there is a lot of people, dogs, boats, kids, and traffic. This isn’t considered an ideal time to learn to swim with all these distraction, but the dogs are hot and they need some exercise. OK… so I unleash one dog, Sydney. She runs to the edge of the pond looking at me and patiently waiting for the OK to go swimming. I say, “Ready… Set… Go!” On “Go!” Sydney leaps in the air and does a belly flop into the pond. She swims at a great distance barking and biting the splashes. I warn people and kids around me, “She is OK, it’s her way of playing in the water. She is NOT drowning.” Once I spread the word, people will laugh, smile, and watch her swim with enjoyment. Scooter has now stepped into the edge of the water but isn’t interested in following Sydney’s technique of swimming. Scooter finds pleasure observing Sydney from a great distance while making few splashes with his paws as he walks back and forth at the edge of the water. No swimming, but a pleasant introduction. Dogs, people, and boats… they are all in the water (except for Scooter).
I found a new swimming spot for my dogs this week! No leashes, no people. This is the first time I am able to take all three dogs without a worry. As we approach this swimming area, Sydney jumps in and does her routine of catching splashes with her mouth and barking. Now, Shadow, the eldest dog, he is a fetcher. You throw a ball, stick, or something that floats he will get it. No matter how far you try to throw it, he will bring it back to you. Now that I have two of the three dogs cooling off and enjoying their playtime, Scooter is now watching both from the sideline. As time passes, he is drawn towards Shadow and how he swims to and from fetching the stick. Within a few minutes Scooter is barking at Shadow as Shadow approaches shore with the stick. Scooter is letting Shadow know he wants to do what he’s doing. Within a few more throws of the stick in the water, Scooter makes his first attempt to swim. After many laughs, smiles, and encouraging words, Scooter masters swimming and fetching. What great pleasure it is to see them enjoy this weather and each other. Bring on more swimming weather!!