Labrador retrievers are great hunting and retrieving dogs that make exceptional companions and family pets. If you and your family like to hunt, fish, or play outdoor sports, a Labrador retriever may be the perfect dog for you. When outdoors, you and your Lab can often be around water.
It is best not to introduce a dog to water all at once. Because Labs sometimes are hesitant around water, the following steps will help introduce and train a new Lab puppy to be comfortable and enthusiastic around water.
Teach Your Lab Basic Commands
As soon as you get a Labrador retriever puppy, teach him or her basic commands such as come, sit, stay, down, and leave it. These commands will teach your puppy that you are the pack leader. Keep your Lab puppy with you as much as possible so you can train throughout the day and always have dog treats with you for rewards.
At six months of age, you can enroll your Lab in dog obedience school to learn more commands, get exercise and mental stimulation, and become acquainted with other dogs. This training is essential to make sure your dog will be safe when you bring him or her to water for the first time.
Introduce Your Puppy to Water
While your Labrador retriever puppy is young, you can play in your yard with a garden hose and a small child's pool. Splash water on your puppy's face and feet to acquaint your dog with the sensation of being wet. You can fill a small child's pool with enough water that it is chest deep for your Lab puppy. Toss a small ball or toy into the pool so that your puppy can jump in and fetch it.
Walk on a Beach
If you live near a lake or ocean, take your Labrador retriever for a walk on the shore or beach. Walk in the shallow water with your Lab so that both of you can get your feet wet. Attach a leash to your Lab's collar to keep him or her close to you as you walk in the water.
You can also toss a waterproof toy into the shallow water to entice your Lab to chase and fetch it. The best toy for this activity is soft and in the shape of a small bird or fish so your Lab can easily grab it and hold it in their mouth. Each time you throw your Lab's toy into the shallow water, throw it a little farther away to entice your Lab to get familiar with deeper water.
Swim in the Water
You can teach your Labrador retriever to swim by getting in a pool, lake, river, or ocean and swimming with them. Dogs will naturally paddle when they are in water deep enough to swim in, but need to learn how to maneuver in the water.
To teach your Lab puppy to maneuver and be confident in the water, hold your hand under their chest or belly to keep them afloat as they dog paddle. Speak to your Lab with a gentle voice to reassure and encourage them in the water.
Dive In the Water
Once you have taught your Labrador retriever to swim, you can teach him or her to dive into the water from a pier or diving board. The best way to do this is to hold your Lab in your arms, dive into the water, and release your Lab to swim out of the water. Once your Lab is familiar with diving, you can dive into the water and then call them to follow you.
Socialize with Other Dogs
One advantage of enrolling your Labrador retriever in dog obedience school is that they can meet and socialize with other dogs. Your Lab can then learn from watching and following their dog friends in many activities, including swimming.
When your Labrador retriever plays outdoors in the water, it is best to use a waterproof polyurethane and nylon webbing collar as it is durable and dries almost instantly. To find items such as a collar, leash, toys, and treats for your Labrador retriever, contact Over Under Clothing online. We have a lifetime guarantee on all of our products and donate a portion of sales to help at-risk dogs.