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Thread: Yellow lab and swimming

  1. #1
    Premium Member denalihunter's Avatar
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    Default Yellow lab and swimming

    Hoping you guys can help me. We have a yellow lab. We got him last spring, and he won't swim. He's an avid ball and stick chaser, but won't go get them from the water, even in shallow water. I set him in belly deep water this summer in a lake, and he ran out, to the truck and wouldn't get back out.

    Any trick to getting him into the water, or do I give up and use him for upland birds?

    Thanks!
    Experience Real Alaska! www.alpinecreeklodge.com

  2. #2
    Member frozen okie's Avatar
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    glad to see am not the only one with a lab that dont swim.The first time mine went into the water I thought he was drowning I was pulling the chest waders off to go get him but he came back up and to this day still wont harly go out over his belly if I go out he will come to so hes my new fishing partner lol only thing I can tell you is go slow and easy let us know if anything works

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    You might try getting him out with some others that are swimming and playing - The peer pressure may get him in and give confidence.

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    Are you all staying on the shore when he is trying to go out? You might want to try getting in the water with him, start shallow then get deeper. If your in there with him it gives him or her more security in the water.

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    I had the same problem with a lab I rescued. Ended up just throwing her in deep water a couple of times and she got the hang of it. Never heard of a dog that can't swim just dogs that are afraid to.

  6. #6

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    Water is a little hard right now for training isn't it.
    Sorry couldn't resist.

    Ok. Here's my 3 cents.

    For dogs new to water there are several factors that you have to take into consideration before you think about getting them in.
    * water temperature......if it is too cold they can develop a reluctance to reenter it again in the future. For my new dogs in my training program I try to find water temps of at least 50 F or higher. I train in land locked ponds and lakes. The water is warmer there because the water is heated by the surrounding land. Here in Alaska stay away from the coastal waters and glacial streams. I don't take young dogs there......just my seasoned ones that are well used to the water.
    * the size of the water.......Most of us has learned to swim in a swimming pool or a smaller body of water. We didn't go right to the ocean or a large lake to go for our first swim. The size is just too scary. The same holds true for a dog. Large bodies of water (which may even be a pond) look like an ocean to a dog. My general rule is if you can't throw a rock across it ..it is too big to introduce new dogs to water.
    *Current.......don't train in a fast stream. That's a no brainer.
    * Attitude.....everything has to be positive. Make it very successful and rewarding. Get out there if you can and even wade out with the dog.

    If you do decide to have other dogs around to try to entice dogs into the water. Make sure you don't have an overzealous dog that will chase or dive on top of the new dog.

    Always......make sure the dog gets into the water on its own. Let the dog make the decision.

    At last resort for dogs that just won't get in. Find a small lake with an island about 15 to 20 yds from shore. Load the dog into a canoe or boat and paddle over. Leave the dog on the island and then paddle back to the opposite shore. Most times the dog will already be in the water by the time you reach the other shore. Encourage the dog as much as possible and remember to praise and reward.

    Good luck

  7. #7
    Member alaskanmoosehunter's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wetland Retrievers View Post

    * water temperature......if it is too cold they can develop a reluctance to reenter it again in the future. For my new dogs in my training program I try to find water temps of at least 50 F or higher.
    Temp is a important factor, I have seen a few dogs practically ruined by either throwing them in the water forcefully and interduction to water that is cold.

    When my drahthaar was a youngster, I would make interduction to water a game. I would put on my waders and walk around in wetlands. He would go around and sniff out the new world and I would walk into the water and back to dry ground. He would run up and down the dry ground until finally he figued he would have to get in the water to get to me.
    Once Forst would get to me I would always act if he was Gods gift to dogs with lots of praise. (NO TREATS EVER!) Your praise should always be treat enough.

    I few walks around and he would blast right through the water. Then I would make a little twist to the walk by crossing water that he would have to swim across.

    If your dog refuses to cross with encouragement leave him/her there. Do not go back and retreive your dog. Keep walking and disappear to where you dog can not see you, then watch what happens. I have never seen a dog that is well taken care by the master to decied to walk back and abandand the master. Once a dog feels that he his being left behind his courage will kick-in and he will swim. Always praise when your dog does something good.

    After a few days of walks your dog will be in the water on his own and you can start advancing your water related training.

    Hope this helps some,

    Ben
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  8. #8
    Member AK Ray's Avatar
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    Default Since our water is hard now....

    ...how do you "teach" a pup to swim over the winter? 4 month YLF and when the water was soft she didn't even like dipping her toes into it in September. Now that there is nose deep snow in the yard she does not seem to mind that too much. But soft water maybe another issue.

    Autumn will be 8 months in March so she should have a good undercoat by the time the water softens up to swimming temps. My plan is to hit Cheney Lake or the University dog park (those people and their out of control pound mutts just kills me) and introduce her to the water. I hope that I will have enough time with her over the summer to get her used to the boat and all the basic retriever work she will need by September. I will be traveling a lot this next year and plan on taking her with me to various spots if allowed.

    I have heard of muni pools at the high schools doing dog days when ever they are draining a pool for maintenance. Anyone else heard this rumor? The ADN Dog Blog had a post about that in 2007, but nothing else comes up.

    Anyone know of another option other than sneaking into my neighbors jacuzzi?

  9. #9
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    Bad luck! A few years ago I would have traded my yellow lab. He wouldn't get out of the water once he went in. Took a lot of time with very long rope/leashes to reel him back in and get him used to who was (nominally) in charge. Still had relapses if something seemed more interesting in the lakes/streams. Hope it works out for you once the ice goes out.

  10. #10
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    My opinion is to get the dog out with other dogs in the water. They almost seem to learn from each other. If you can get the lab out with a couple of other dogs that are chasing the ball into the water, he might get the hint. It will at least get him excited. I'd keep in that direction.

    We had a golden that didn't want to swim. He was a rescue and didn't even know that he could drive out of the river. So we leashed him when the our other dogs were playing in the water. We walked him out into the water in big circles when his feet would be forced to slightly swim. It took a few passes before he got the hint.

    It does take awhile for a dog to learn to swim. Some dogs seem to have to relearn how to swim every spring.

  11. #11
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    Default Deep water dunking and treats.

    I saw some comments above I queston.“Threw the dog in deep water a few times.” I’ve pulled a panicked pup out of deep water as he went down for the third time. I was up to my chin on tiptoes in nice cool, February water outside of Seattle. It may have worked for this owner but, more than likely it will cause a panic and more problems. I agree, get in the water with them and make it fun, but not in February.

    “NEVER GIVE TREATS” well.... that depends. I held that belief to because the dogs I had wanted to retrieve more than eat. Our rescued Lab from Wetlands Retrievers is a reluctant retriever. No fault of Baron’s, she came to him that way. She would tremble at the word “fetch” and shut down. She either had some bad training or knew that freaking would make me stop. She didn’t care about praise, she just wanted out of the garage and away from the bumper. I used treats and toys to build a response to fetch. It worked after about 3 weeks of easy no-pressure fetching for food. We also did fetch with toys for fun. If what you want the dog to do, but does not want to do or is afraid to do, can be encouraged by food start there. Why fight it. I removed the food and started praising her. She isn’t a hot retriever but she’s willing and getting more enthused every time we train.

    I have a couple of mixed sight hounds now that I’m going to see if I can get swimming next year. I might try treats to get them and try DockDog jumping with those long legs.
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  12. #12
    Premium Member denalihunter's Avatar
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    Default Thanks everyone!

    Wow, great suggestions! I really appreciate all of your responses and help! I like the idea of getting other dogs, and also working with a stick in shallow water. I'm going to use this info to train him up once the water becomes more liquidy up here!

    Thanks again!

    Claude
    Experience Real Alaska! www.alpinecreeklodge.com

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