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I don't know if my logic here is right or not.... but, I've never had a water dog, so I guess I really have no idea what to expect. I want to take Beau to the lake some times once it gets warm and maybe even get some of those floaty-retriever things. But I don't know how/what to do?


Is swimming an instinct for dogs? Does he have to be taught to swim?
does he need a life jacket?
What happens if he just runs into the water and swims forever and I can't get to him?
What if something bites him - like a water moccasin?

Now for what might be a really dumb question - does he need shoes? I know people fish in the lakes I'd be taking him to (wouldn't let him in the water if someone was actually fishing nearby though) so what if he steps on a hook on his way to the deeper water?


I'd hate for Beau to get hurt at the lake. Any advice?
 

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Kate
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Is swimming an instinct for dogs? Does he have to be taught to swim?
You have to let him learn to swim. The first time they get water up their nose they can freak out and start thrashing in the water. And use up a lot of energy that way. The more they swim, the stronger their sea legs. :)

does he need a life jacket?
I've never used one with my guy, though I guess there are some lakes (like the great lakes) where I would put one on him.

What happens if he just runs into the water and swims forever and I can't get to him?
That's why you want a good solid recall before you let him get in that water. If he goes off swimming into the sunset, it's up to you to go in after him.

What if something bites him - like a water moccasin?
All I can say is never watch River Monsters. :uhoh: Thanks to that guy, I'm now afraid of catfish.

Now for what might be a really dumb question - does he need shoes? I know people fish in the lakes I'd be taking him to (wouldn't let him in the water if someone was actually fishing nearby though) so what if he steps on a hook on his way to the deeper water?
Check his feet after he swims. Watching some threads this past fall, I heard of a lot of dogs getting their feet cut up.

Those webbed feet of theirs help them swim though, so I'm not sure I'd put shoes on them.
 

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To just add to what Megora said.

1) Not all goldens are natural swimmers nor do all goldens like the water so don't force it if your dog doesn't seem to like it. If you're not sure you can go to a pool. Where I live there are dog only indoor and outdoor pools so you can see how he does. While my guy swam the first time like he's been doing it his whole like I have seen others that required life jackets and at least four assisted lessons.

2) There is no need to put anything on their feed.

3) Depending on where you swim the only other danger are diseases they can pick up if the water is stagnant so watch out for the usual symptoms - giardia for one.
 

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Tracer, Rumor & Cady
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Watch where you let him swim...especially if people use that area to fish...misplaced, lost or littered fishing tackle (especially fish hooks) that smell of fish can be irresistible and mean an emergency room visit if swallowed.
 

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Wyatt Earp
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The sooner you introduce him to the water the easier he will adapt. Our dogs are put in our pool the day we bring them home (8 weeks) We have a pool so we have to teach them how to get out of the pool in case they were to ever fall in while we were not at home. An adult dog would panic and drown if he were not taught this. Goldens can swim. However they also can be very fearful so that in itself might make them panic and look as though they can't swim. Our friends have a 3 year old golden who was never introduced to water and he will not go in our pool because he is so fearful of it. The earlier the better.
Goldens paws are webbed for this very reason. Swimming. I would not put shoes on him. Never found a need for a jacket. Actually I think they could be harmful if it were to get caught on something in the water. Good luck!
 

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Oh my- I'll bet he loves it! Three bits of advice I can offer:

1. Let him take it at his own speed- don't force him into the water.
2. He's likely to do better with a shallow drop off where he can work his way up to swimming rather than a steep drop where he's suddenly over his head.
3. A neighbor's lab drowned at the lake when I was a kid- so it can happen, even with a water dog. The big thing is you don't want them going vertical in the water, because they can sink and panic. They can go vertical trying to get up a ladder/doc/float/log/etc.

Lucky gave me a scare recently at a pond where I let him swim. It's swampy and has a lot of downed trees. I accidentally threw a stick over one of the floating logs so he tried to grab onto the log with his front paws and haul himself over. He went vertical and under water. He's confident enough now he popped back up and responded when I called him back. But gave me a fright.

Just be aware of the surroundings and watch for him trying to claw his way up onto something where the water is over his head.
 

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I'll add my own take here, as we go all over New England and swim in all kinds of water.

Good water instinct is supposed to be part of the Golden temperament, but not all Goldens are bred carefully for it. Even if your dog has the genes for it, he still may be nervous at first. Don't force anything. Find a spot where the shore is gradual and the water is very calm so he has a chance to splash and play and get comfortable without having to actually swim.

As others have said, the first few times swimming can be really inelegant. Yes, they have an instinct for how to swim, but they're generally not efficient at first. If they don't make good forward progress, the body tends to tilt underwater, butt down, head up, and they end up splashing a lot. They may even panic a bit. That's why a gentle sloping shore is nice, so the dog gets more comfortable in the water but can still put his feet down if he starts to tilt.

The easiest way to motivate him is to play fetch with an older, confident dog. Your dog will want to chase out after the toy and the other dog, and will challenge himself to swim deeper.

Even so, it can take a few outings before your pup actually leaves his depth and tries to swim. And it'll take a couple more times after that before he really knows how to swim. He'll teach himself, though. Before he has fully taught himself, be prepared to help him if he needs it. You'll know he really grasps the concept once he stops splashing the surface with his front paws. His stroke will change and become more efficient, and that's when you know he can really swim.

Dogs don't need life jackets for ordinary swimming, but they absolutely do need them in any situation where a human might wear one, like on a boat trip. Most dog life jackets also have a strong handle between the shoulder blades, so if your dog does fall off the boat or the pier, you can haul him out much more safely than if you had to grab his collar.

You must have good recall if you want your dog to swim on open water. If your dog is birdy and has poor recall, it's completely possible for him to misjudge his ability and get into a dangerous situation. Goldens are usually strong swimmers, and they can be terribly poor decision makers when they're estimating how far they can swim. A Golden is perfectly capable of swimming farther and farther and farther after a duck until he drowns himself. And I've seen ducks who seemed to be trying to drown dogs. They let the dog get close, and then they flap ten or twenty feet away, and then they wait for the dog to catch up again, all the while drawing him further and further out. You MUST be able to call your dog off a bird if he's birdy.

No shoes. He needs his webbed feet in order to swim effectively. Try not to swim him from the same spots on the shore that fishermen use, and keep a pair of pliers and a wirecutter in your car if you're worried about fishhooks. You have to push the fishhook through, snip off the barbed part, and then pull it backwards and out. If you can't push it through because of its position, it's time for the emergency vet.

Here's the problems I've run into in the last decade or so:

Current. Dogs are generally wary of whitewater, but not always, and if the current is strong but doesn't disturb the surface, they're not good judges of its strength or its speed. We had a big scare when one of our favorite streams was running high and Jax got pulled downstream and fetch up against a log. He was pinned against it for a few seconds because he kept fighting against going under it (which would have washed him past it safely), so Andy and I both jumped into the brook to get him. He was fine, but it was a big scare.

Clam beds. We take the dogs to the local salt marsh all the time, and at certain tides, the clam beds are hidden under an inch or two of water. The dogs run across and slash up their paws. We haven't ever had a slash bad enough to require a vet visit, but it's obviously something to avoid.

Getting out is easier than getting in. The dogs will not plan ahead on how to get out of a body of water. So if it's a rocky shore with a two foot drop into the water, they'll happily jump in, swim around, and then they're really sad when they can't get out. This applies to docks and pools, too. You may have to show your dog how to get out at least the first time and maybe the first few times. After that, he should pick it up.

Don't fear swimming! It's written right into their genes, and for some dogs, not much makes them happier than a swim. When we run or hike, the dogs will splash into every pond, lake, or stream along the way, just for kicks. It's the best low impact exercise possible, and it's a joy to watch a Golden Retriever crashing into the water.
 

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Very good advice here...yes you do have to be careful as tippy mentioned dogs don't think ahead when it comes to getting out. I was working my bridge girl in some white water on retrieves. The water I was working her on was pretty calm next to the white water lane. I inadvertently through the dummy out a bit to far and it got caught in the white water...old Sammie took off after it like a rocket.

I was finally able to call her off the dummy with my whistle. It's a good thing her recall was so good, even on a retrieve, had she not responded I'd have lost her for sure as down river there was a bend that had trapped 3 good sized trees and she never would have been able to work her way free.

I think moving water is a lot more dangerous than still water but you always need to be on your toes and keep an eye on your dog.

Pete
 
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Kate
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I'm embarrassed to admit this...

While Jacks is VERY interested in ducks, I don't know if he would chase them across a lake. He will go swimming after people and boats though.

And the other thing is that any critters near the edge of a lake will probably lead your dog astray. There were muskrats and minks near the one lake we go to a lot, so my little rabbit dog was springing out and obsessing about where they went (they pop back into the water and swim away). With him he's never taken off running, but other dogs might if you are out in a rural enough area.
 

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I'd also be careful using a rope or long lead on your dog when dealing with water. What you intended as a safety line may tangle on a submerged object and prevent the dog from getting back in or actually pull him under in the case of moving water.

Tippy I've felt the same way about waterfowl...seems like sometimes they do wait for the dog to catch up before they take off again. My buddy almost lost his rescue Chessi that way one day on a large lake, the dog was almost out of sight before he finally turned and came back in.

Pete
 

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One thing in the warm months you must be aware of too, is 'green algae'. No it is the the green stuff floating on the top of the water so look it up and get familiar with it. It is deadly.

Usually it is found in stagnant type ponds but learn about it. Dogs ingest water swimming and this can kill a dog, it killed a friend of a friends dog.

Swimming is a lot of fun, and a great way to exercise your dog. Know the water. If you have a friend with a good swimming dog with good manners, have them go with you. Good manners meaning they come back in. It will teach your dog how to play. My dogs are obcessive compulsive about retrieving, if I throw something in the water they will bring it back so they don't take off swimming after things. That being said, they have not swam with live ducks around too much yet.

Also don't worry if your dog does not take to water. Not every dog will swim. Not even golden retrievers. Met a man who lived on the beach in CA, he said his dog HATED the water. Just like some people, not for everyone.

Most take to it quite naturally, mine all have.
 

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Great advice above. The one scare I've had with my boys swimming was when they spotted a pair of Canadian Geese with the goslings swimming behind. Normally the geese would have just flown off but with goslings in tow they didn't. My boys swam after them for a full 45 minutes!!! I thought for sure they were going to drown. Eventually they came back to shore one with a gosling in his mouth but unharmed. When they got back to shore they didn't even act tired.
 

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Great advice above. The one scare I've had with my boys swimming was when they spotted a pair of Canadian Geese with the goslings swimming behind. Normally the geese would have just flown off but with goslings in tow they didn't. My boys swam after them for a full 45 minutes!!! I thought for sure they were going to drown. Eventually they came back to shore one with a gosling in his mouth but unharmed. When they got back to shore they didn't even act tired.
Geese with goslings can be very aggressive...I've seen them actually go after dogs in the water when they presented a threat. They'll go after the dogs eye's, OUCH!! Gotta love that soft mouth and lucky for that gosling...

Pete
 

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Oh yeah! And don't let your dogs chase swans. Territorial adults will sometimes not back down and will actively attack your dogs. The dog may injure the swan badly in the process, but the swan has a big advantage on the water and could injure or kill a dog. Geese and ducks have always fled, in my experience. Not so with swans.

And that reminds me: if you live in beaver territory, do not allow your dogs to swim in beaver ponds. There was a lady on the Newf list whose Newf was drowned by territorial beavers a couple of years ago. Newfs are incredible swimmers, but beavers can hold their breath far, far longer than dogs. Beavers will also defend their homes by biting and attacking.
 

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I might have missed this but make sure to clean/dry your pup's ears as soon as they come out of the water. You don't want to have to treat a raging ear infection- I had to do that once with Lucky because my dad and brother forgot to do his post swim ear care. Never again. Both me and the dog were miserible. After that it was mandated that Lucky had to wear earplugs when since they could not follow instructions.
 

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Nice tip about the ears. Comet never seems to get ear problems no matter what, but Jax gets yeast infections in his ears if they aren't cleaned after swimming.
 

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That's pretty impressive a beaver taking out a Newfie! I know beavers can be pretty territorial, I've been surprised more than once by that tail slap when quietly fly-fishing a slow run of water. That'll get your heart going...:uhoh:

Pete
 

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Another danger to be aware of, over the summer my pup got saltwater in his lungs when he was swimming. He developed double pneumonia and had other problems as well. He was in the hospital for a couple days and almost didn't make it. I thought it was a fluke but the vet said it happens all the time. Of course saltwater is much worse than fresh since it pulls in fluids, but if you ever notice your dog having trouble breathing or wheezing after swimming get to a vet!
 

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this scares me......neither my husband or I can swim...yet we enjoy camping and fishing at the river. Our last Golden mix loved being in rushing mountian creeks....up to his belly, but never really swam. Now that we have Journey who seems to love water.....we're a bit nervous about what happens if he wants to swim when we're at the river. I'm thinking maybe putting a long training leash on him and seeing how he does the first time we go out. I want him to be able to enjoy the water, but I also want him safe!!!
 
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