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Thread: I may have traumatized my dog...

  1. #1
    Member JOAT's Avatar
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    Default I may have traumatized my dog...

    Well, finally got a chance to take the Golden to a lake to get completely wet. We loaded in the boat to go for a spin and see how he liked that, but Murphy interviened and jambed up the steering cable. For the brief time we were on the water, he was just fine with being in a boat.

    We got back to the launch and I tinkered with the motor to try and fix my new steering problem while the dog was busy splashing about on the boat launch and exploring the water line. I decided there was no hope for the steering problem in the field, so I figured I'd play with the dog for a bit before we left. Of course I didn't bring any "official" bumpers or anything with me as this was rather impromptu.

    He's never been swimming yet (16 months old now), but he loved to splash around in the break-up puddles so I figured he'd be a natural for the water. Well, I found a stick and this is where I screwed up. I got him all fired up and made a short toss out on the water over the boat launch. It was about 2' too far. He went charging in and just short of the stick, his front feet went off the edge of the boat ramp and the entire front half of his body dropped underwater... head and all. His rear feet are still on the boat launch so his tail and behind is sticking up in the air. His head is underwater for what seemed like a really, really long time. Long enough that I was taking my first step into the water to grab him by the collar, but it was probably only 4-5 seconds. Finally, he pops up and is paddling his way back to shore with wreckless abandon. Forget about the stick.

    Realizing that this was a really bad first experience to water over his head, I quickly took him and walked him back out into the water until I had his body floating with his head above water in correct orientation. As soon as his feet left the bottom, he began to panic despite my efforts, so we went back to playing in the shallow for awhile. He had no problems there and would retrieve and all without hesitation. As soon as I tossed the stick just a bit further into the water, he'd only run in up to chest deep, then stop and back up, but always trying to figure out a way to get that stick without going into deep water. So I quit trying to get him out there and ended up with some shallow water play.

    So, before I screw this up any more, what should be my next step to introduce him to swimming? I'm not sure if I should be going baby steps with this to get his confidence up or if it should be more of a forced leader-pack member issue.
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    Winter is Coming...

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  2. #2
    Member tjm's Avatar
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    your dog sounds just like me...if I can't touch bottom, I ain't going in.....
    ------------------------------------------------
    pull my finger....

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    I can't claim to be a very experienced dog trainer, but if it were me, I'd take the baby steps approach. After more time in the wading pool maybe put some waders on, go out to where he'd just barely have to swim and try calling him out to you. The more he is traumatized by the idea of deep water the harder it will stick to his mind for the long term, in my opinion.

    On a side note, do you know of an AKC registered male down there that might be ready to breed? My brother-in-law has a female in Soldotna he wants to get a litter from.

    Good luck with your dog. I had a Golden in High School I ruined by taking him to a pheasant game refuge on opening morning for his first time out. Lots of shooting all around us. He hid in the high grass and started trembling. He never got used to the sound of a gun after that.

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    Member JOAT's Avatar
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    Mine's registered... but as of a month ago he ain't no good for breeding (it was a limited registration and we didn't have breeding rights anyway). I don't really know of any goldens in my area and when I started looking for one, I ended up buying out of state. Labs are everywhere, but goldens seem to be pretty rare in AK.

    He's great around gun fire. Been exposed to it frequently at the trap range since he was only about 6 months old.

    I'm kinda thinkin I need to take him back to the lake with his favorite floating bumper with one of the pheasant wings strapped on it. That just drives him nuts in the yard. Sticks just don't get him all that fired up to start with.
    Winter is Coming...

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  5. #5
    Member duckslayer56's Avatar
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    My dog didn't like the water at first either, but I can't keep him out of it now. I introduced him to water a little too early. And I think the water was too cold for him. He was only 4 months, and still very much a puppy.

    So then I took the baby step approach. I took him to the lake and let him sniff around the water and get comfortable with it on his own. I didn't throw any marks or try to force him in. After he played around for a while he would walk out to his chest, then a fish jumped, and he swam out for it. A few days later I took his bumper, and threw it just far enough so he would get the bottom of his chest wet. I did this for a while, and then threw the bumper just far enough for him to swim out and get it. I only did this twice, then left and came back a few days later, and did the same thing, but threw the mark a little farther at the end. I kept doing this for a few weeks, then found that I could throw the bumper as far as I wanted. Not only would he go out into the water, he would jump out in the water for it. He will also dive for stuff now.

    The baby step approach worked for me, just be careful not to make water a bad thing to him.

    Good Luck
    Some people call it sky busting... I call it optimism
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  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by JOAT View Post
    Well, finally got a chance to take the Golden to a lake to get completely wet. We loaded in the boat to go for a spin and see how he liked that, but Murphy interviened and jambed up the steering cable. For the brief time we were on the water, he was just fine with being in a boat.

    We got back to the launch and I tinkered with the motor to try and fix my new steering problem while the dog was busy splashing about on the boat launch and exploring the water line. I decided there was no hope for the steering problem in the field, so I figured I'd play with the dog for a bit before we left. Of course I didn't bring any "official" bumpers or anything with me as this was rather impromptu.

    He's never been swimming yet (16 months old now), but he loved to splash around in the break-up puddles so I figured he'd be a natural for the water. Well, I found a stick and this is where I screwed up. I got him all fired up and made a short toss out on the water over the boat launch. It was about 2' too far. He went charging in and just short of the stick, his front feet went off the edge of the boat ramp and the entire front half of his body dropped underwater... head and all. His rear feet are still on the boat launch so his tail and behind is sticking up in the air. His head is underwater for what seemed like a really, really long time. Long enough that I was taking my first step into the water to grab him by the collar, but it was probably only 4-5 seconds. Finally, he pops up and is paddling his way back to shore with wreckless abandon. Forget about the stick.

    Realizing that this was a really bad first experience to water over his head, I quickly took him and walked him back out into the water until I had his body floating with his head above water in correct orientation. As soon as his feet left the bottom, he began to panic despite my efforts, so we went back to playing in the shallow for awhile. He had no problems there and would retrieve and all without hesitation. As soon as I tossed the stick just a bit further into the water, he'd only run in up to chest deep, then stop and back up, but always trying to figure out a way to get that stick without going into deep water. So I quit trying to get him out there and ended up with some shallow water play.

    So, before I screw this up any more, what should be my next step to introduce him to swimming? I'm not sure if I should be going baby steps with this to get his confidence up or if it should be more of a forced leader-pack member issue.
    I wouldnt be real concerned at this point, He will swim just fine when his confidence comes back --you wading in the water with him is a plus --
    but let him figure it out on his own --Cabelas sells a neopreme dog vest
    Which floats a dog (waterwings)lol--And keeps a dog warm in cold weather hunting ---just watch he dosnt overheat in it on warm active days --but in winter time and cold water these are fantastic.
    Great looking dog---looks like my Golden---Sonny
    \
    Good luck

  7. #7

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    And JOAT you could team up with someone with an older dog preferable a female that swims and let them play in the water before he realizes what happened hes swimming.
    Just my opinion all dogs react differnt

  8. #8

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    Definitely baby steps is the right approach. Do not help your dog....I think that freaked him out more than the water. Since he was back in it afterwards. Some people also make the mistake of consulling the dog if it appeared to have a bad experience. Don't do that either....cause then the dog sees you reacting badly as well and will think GEEZ this must be really BAD. Ignore your dogs reaction and continue on.
    Tie a rope to your retrieving toy. So if you throw it too far you can pull it in towards shore. You always want your dog to be successful..even if you have to help them to that success.

    Swimming with other dogs is good as well. You have to be careful that you don't have a really hyper retrieving fool to learn from. Cause if your dog does get in the water the hyper idiot will possibly push underwater the fledgling swimmer trying to be competitive to get the toy first.

    In the past for those retrievers that were determined to never get wet. I would put them in a paddle boat, take them to a small island in a lake and leave them on the shore and paddle away to the mainland. Typically ONLY a 10 or 15 yard swim. Then just encourage the dog to you. They will get in all on there own and you didn't have to force them to do it.

  9. #9
    Member JOAT's Avatar
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    Default I think I'm getting the hang of this

    Quote Originally Posted by Wetland Retrievers View Post
    ...Tie a rope to your retrieving toy. So if you throw it too far you can pull it in towards shore. You always want your dog to be successful..even if you have to help them to that success...
    This is pretty much exactly what I was thinking I should do on our next trip to the lake. Between this forum and all the recommended reading, I think I'm starting to figure this stuff out.

    Thanks for all the help.
    Winter is Coming...

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  10. #10
    Member Big Al's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JOAT View Post
    This is pretty much exactly what I was thinking I should do on our next trip to the lake. Between this forum and all the recommended reading, I think I'm starting to figure this stuff out.

    Thanks for all the help.
    If he goes nuts for a bumper in the yard, he will go nuts for a bumper in the water. Just throw in the shallows for a while and then extend the throw a little at a time into deeper water. as long as he keeps up with the bumper fun, you've got him. He has to get past puppy paddling and has to be swimming, before winter.

    How do they get past puppy paddling? They have to be in the water a lot to learn to swim. When you no longer see the front feet splashing in the water, he's swimming. Keep it fun for him. Remember when the front feet are splashing he can't hear your commands.
    "The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tryants." (Thomas Jefferson

  11. #11

    Default Walking On Water

    Live Birds ,pigeons With One Wing Tied. Chest Deep Water With
    You In Chest Waiters. Might Coast You A Couple Birds But
    You Would Be Amazed How Fast A Bird Dog Will Stop Dog Paddling ,and Swim. Our Season For Water Work Is To Short ,move On.:d

  12. #12
    Member Bighorse's Avatar
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    I introduced both my dogs to water by 6months (spaniels). The current pup I got will already take hand commands from the water, dive, and jump. I've even got a couple double retrieves out of him in the salt water at 8 months. He is unique. The other Spaniel took longer but he was a full on swimmer at a year.

    I use a vest when cold. I also like to keep them really active for water work thowing dry retrieves to keep them moving.

    For both dogs I got in the water with them for introduction and always followed up a romp with a nice warm shower/bath. My young dog loves the water so much he'll refuse treats because he is just so into it.

    Different breeds I guess but I'd think a Golden would just naturally gravitate to the water. I'm sorta different than alot of dog owners in that I've always encouraged water fun and dealt with the muddy wet mess alot. I'm always thinking about hunting and I want my dogs in the water and swimming without a thought.

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    I know this is a little late but..... My pup at 3-4 months loved the water up to his neck. He would dunk his whole head in to get a stick, but would not swim. When I said "Put him in the water so he can swim to me from the boat, my brother-in-law thought I meant "Throw" him in the water (about a 10ft toss) as his father had to him. Zeke swam to shore, sure, but never swam again until My girls and I were swimming in the mouth of the Charlie & he was on shore not wanting to be left behind... He swam multiple times that day & hopefully will continue.

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    Member TeXXaN's Avatar
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    Default my dogs ice disaster

    right around break up i took my dog out for some retreving on the first through he went out and got it no problem then the next time he broke through the ice and could not get back out i was my fault throughing it out to the middle of a river. It seemedlike forever i tried to call 911 but i got some kids voice mail awsome being and outofsate phone. I crawled out on the ice and could not reach him he lost sight of me twice while in the water and i though he was dead his yelps were horendous. i ran to a near by cut down tree hauled that over to him and he used it to ge out after about 10 mins of the water ordeal he was out exausted but out. i tried to take him out the next day for some more retreiving and he would not get in at all he would only go to the edge. I went home got my waders and had to fix this problem he is my working dog and i need him to be ready for this next duck season. i put on his vest and then threw the bumper out a ways got in and called him when her got to waters edge i proceeded to grab him by the vest he fought alittle but i carried him in and he began to swim i walked along side him for the first couple of times and he got the hang of it it took me like 10 mins to fix the problem no he has no problem being out in the middle of a lake searching for the bumper. I hate to relive this ordeal cause it was my fault he went in and i almost lost my near and dear freind that day that was arguably the worst day of my life.

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