Introducing Your Dog to Water
When training a dog to retrieve water fowl, a proper introduction to water is necessary. One of the biggest obstacles a hunter can face is a dog that is afraid of getting wet! Long gone are the days when hunters were encouraged to toss their dogs into a pond and force them to swim ashore. In the video below, the Wild Rose way for introducing your dog to water is demonstrated.
Go in first The first step in getting your dog into the water is for you to go in first and let your puppy follow. Your dog looks to you as a leader, so you cannot expect your puppy to perform a task that he or she has never experienced, without following someone else’s lead. Wade into shallow water first and then gently encourage your pup to follow.
Do not pull or struggle If your dog is uncertain about wading into the shallow water, do not pull or struggle with your dog. It is important that your puppy only has positive associations when experiencing water for the first time. If you have difficulty coaxing your dog into the water you can use a bumper or other enticement tool to encourage your pet.
Make it fun Once your dog is in the water, make the experience fun. Throw a bumper for your puppy to retrieve, but make sure he or she stays away from the deep water. The best approach is a gradual one. As your puppy becomes more and more comfortable you can introduce him or her to the deep end of the pond. Don’t worry if the bumper you throw floats away, simply toss another one to your pup to divert its attention and retrieve the wayward bumper later.
Wait for a warm day The first water experience will be more enjoyable for you and your dog if you wait for a warm day. Before going into the water you should exercise and play with your puppy so that the cool pond is inviting, instead of uncomfortable.
Above all, take it slow If your dog is resistant to getting into the water, do not become frustrated. Keep your training sessions fun and short, and aim to make small progress each time – even if that means your dog takes one extra step at every session. As mentioned in the video, a proper introduction is progressive, and you should make haste slowly.
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