Training your dog to enjoy time spent in and around water

Even the best animal hospital gets a curly question on occasion. We occasionally get asked for dog tips at Fox Valley Animal Hospital that are common yet not health related. One such situation is people in search of water related dog tips.

Summer is hot and heat stroke can really take a toll on the family dog. The trouble is, not all dogs are as fond of water as we’d like them to be. Whether bathing, spending time at the beach or trying to cool your pooch down with the backyard hose, some aspects of a dog’s relationship with water can be a struggle.

Sometimes, you can’t fix the relationship entirely. But in some ways, you can improve it.

Here are some dog tips you can use to help your dog navigate the waters of life for your peace of mind and theirs!

Why don’t certain dogs like water?

best animal hospital wahroonga

Photo by: Michael Mroczek

The best animal hospital won’t have a definitive answer on the reason why a dog has water based anxiety. The dislike of water can come from a variety of different places. One of the first dog tips to do with water is that each pup or dog will respond differently to common things such as bathing, swimming and the hose. There are no right or wrong answers.

It might be that the pup has had some negative experiences in the past that has knocked their confidence about.

For example, baths and cleaning experiences that might have been too rough or overwhelming. To a young pup, a big body of water and a totally different kind of washing experience can be scary. Being forced near or into water can also have a negative impact.

They may have headed into open water and got into trouble (both physically and/or with their family). Being dumped by a wave or being unable to get back to shore without help can also make a lasting impression.

Perhaps because they have hesitated before and it’s caused frustration with their owner, they associate bathing with them being bad. Our pets pick up their cues from us, after all.

It might be a natural dislike of water or not being exposed to it until they are older. For example, an inland puppy that later becomes a seaside dog is going to feel a certain amount of trepidation when greeted with the idea of the ocean for the first time.

Or it may even be that they associate water with a negative thing because they’ve been subject to hoses and water pistols to correct unwanted behaviours.

Whatever the situation, the best animal hospital approach is based on gentle and respectful movements towards water confidence are the best way forward. That’s why it’s important to have your patience and praise as well as the treats and toys handy.

Dealing with a dog that hates bathing

It’s funny, isn’t it? Even the most water loving dog that will happily take on surf and swim for ages for a ball can begin to cower at the mere inkling of a bath. In pop culture, we laugh it off that dogs might not be keen on bathing. But for the dog, it could be quite a stressful process.

So what can you do to turn a hose or bath hating dog into one that at the minimum, doesn’t mind it? Or who may even learn to like it?

Always make sure you have plenty of time is the first tip. Rushing and fighting the clock is something your dog will pick up on. That stress will make the bath unpleasant.

Secondly, think about how you can break the bathing or cooling down experience down. For example, the best animal hospital will employ a sponge bath to a soiled patient or a dog we don’t know to make the situation less likely to end in calamity.

Instead of trying to wash your dog in a tub, bath or with the hose, wet a sponge and start with that. Get your dog used to feeling damp, touched all over and cleaned without seeing big bodies of water.

If your dog is extremely fearful, you could even try this process while they eat or enjoy watching TV with you on the couch. The aim is to desensitise your dog from both touch and that feeling of dampness. Increase the amount of exposure to water in the sponge with each time to grow the amount of water without the fear.

Treat the dog often is also a trick the best animal hospital and grooming staff employ. If your dog is responding well to any kind of bathing, a pat and a treat will do wonders for making bath time seem positive. You can also bath your dog and then play a favourite game or load up a Kong or a puzzle.

And if you are really http://www.mindanews.com/buy-accutane/ struggling, try the Pooch Parlour. We work with all kinds of dogs and their attitude to bathing to ensure the most positive experience possible.

Holding on for dear life during rainy days

Another area where your dog may change behaviour is when it’s raining. Toilet time becomes an additional stress and worry because your family dog may flat refuse to go to the bathroom in the rain.

Early signals we give puppies will help determine their future relationship with rain. For example, if your puppy is given alternative arrangements to toilet on a puppy pad because you don’t want to face the wet day, this might associate toileting during rain with inside.

That’s why the best animal hospital staff will teach you to avoid using these kinds of inside aids and start to toilet outside in all conditions.

Or if your puppy is used to a regular walk, taking the walk away may send the message that rain is a bad thing. If that walk is used as part of the daily toileting process, it could send very confused signals indeed.

The issue is that a dog that holds on might have accidents in the house later. It’s also not a healthy thing for kidneys and liver to be placed under such strain.

But there are a couple of things you can do to reverse the reticence to toilet during the rain:

  • Choose a light rain day and take a favourite toy and place fetch. This helps take your dog’s mind off being in the rain while building a positive association
  • Suit up in your raincoat and pop your dog on a lead and walk together in the rain. Encourage your pet to toilet, taking your time and treating once they are successful
  • Don’t stop the usual routine in the rain. The more your dog thinks rain is part and parcel of the every day, the less likely they are to worry about it

Time at the dog beach or on the lake

Not all dogs are doing to want to ride surf boards, crew for you sailing or chase balls in the ocean. They are as individual as we are when it comes to hobbies and tastes.

But you can help a dog become better acquainted with water and find their way to enjoy the water sports with you.

Again, be patient and use treats and toys. Walk with your dog at the water’s edge and lead by example in demonstrating there isn’t anything to worry about.

If you want to toss a ball, toss it across the shoreline, not offshore, so that your dog can get used to the feel of the water and the waves. Or try using a heavy object in the shallows to get them placing their face underwater and getting used to it that way.

Follow the best animal hospital advice for open water and always make sure you:

  • Don’t force the issue. If your dog isn’t keen on swimming, that’s their choice. Let them show you how they’d prefer to interact with the water
  • Check any waters where you can’t see the bottom for depth or debris before encouraging them to jump off a pier or enter a river. It only takes one injury to put your dog’s confidence and potentially physical health at risk
  • Give your dog an out. They might like being in the kayak or on the boat for a while, but this may change. So always watch how they respond to water experiences and respect their wishes. So what you can to return them to shore or at the very least, allay any fears with praise, pats and treats
  • Never force your dog into water on lead or by throwing them in. Not only will this increase their problems with water, it may also damage their faith and trust in you as well
  • Use a dog life jacket. Yes, even your dog needs to be water safe- especially if they are already nervous around water

Water and dogs can be a winning combination

From completing simple takes such as bathing through to enjoying our hobbies, life is so much simpler if your pooch is a happy water goer.

That’s why it’s important to include desensitising your dog to water when they are a pup and to continue the positive relationship throughout their adult life. The best animal hospital approach is always to expose your dog to the things you want them to enjoy early and often with confidence.

Our dogs trust our judgement. So if you can show that water is a positive experience on a rainy day as much as it is surfing waves to catch the ball, your dog will be better for it.

Want more advice on your dog? Call the best animal hospital in Wahroonga – call Fox Valley Animal Hospital now on (02) 9489 4805

About the Author
Owner and Vet Alex Brittan, Vet Katie Syms and the team of Fox Valley Animal Hospital pride themselves on quality service. Fox Valley Animal Hospital is the one you choose for your family pet when the care your animal receives really matters.