Tuesday Topics 8 - Sink or Swim?


The temperature has been soaring into the mid-90s these past few days, so yesterday, I took Cabana for her first swim in my bosses' pool. The water temp was a balmy 80 degrees, not even too cold for my wimpy constitution.

For some reason, I thought Cabana would be channeling Michael Phelps. She had fallen into our tiny koi pond when she was about 10 weeks old, and even though the pond is about the size of wheelbarrow, I could tell from the few seconds that Cabana was in the water that she knew how to swim.

But that's the one and only time Cabana has been fully immersed in water. We bathe her in our kitchen sink so that we can take advantage of the water sprayer, and even though the sink is fairly large, the water isn't even up to her knobby knees.

So I guess I shouldn't have been surprised that Cabana had her trepidations. Going with my puppy group leader's advice, I took it slow. I put her on the first step, then the second step, and she seemed to like the water. But when I carried her out into the middle of the pool, I could feel her little heart beating a nervous pitter-pat. So I held onto her for quite a while and carried her around and around while talking reassuringly. Then, I carefully let her go....

Cabana can definitely swim--but she doggy paddled straight for the side of the pool, where she hung on for dear life. I took her over to the steps so she could easily exit the water. I tried the same procedure about 3 more times, and each time, she made a mad splashing dash for terra firma.

I tried enticing her into the water with toys. I made my kids jump into the pool as an example. I even tried coaxing her with treats. But Cabana just preferred sniffing around the yard to swimming in the pool. Disappointing!

So, are your dogs swimmers? Did they take to it easily or were they like fish out of water? It looks like we've got a long hot summer just around the corner--and I'd love to be able to enjoy the coolness of the pool with Cabana!

Poppy The Puppy  – (April 21, 2009 at 10:29 AM)  

I have had swimmers, non-swimmers and one sinker. Some love standing water, but hate the I ocean moving at them, while others were scared of pools, but love the gradual slope of going into a lake or ocean. I am looking forward to seeing which way Poppy leans soon!

smilinshell11  – (April 21, 2009 at 10:34 AM)  

It seems like most of the puppies in our group won't even go near the water which seems contrary to all the water loving labs I grew up with!

We had an outing by a lake last summer and some of our memebers went in and the dogs just stood on the shore looking at them like "Are you crazy?" It was pretty funny. :)

Brittany  – (April 21, 2009 at 10:41 AM)  

I have two pond/ocean swimmers.

Patriot didn't ever go in water until he was cc'd!! It took him a while but he eventually figured it out. He used to be ok with jumping into swimming pool situations, but fell into a half filled one once, and almost froze to death. Sense then, he needs to be able to touch the bottom of the water during that initial step in. But he LOVES to swim in lakes and ponds, and I am sure he would love the ocean (none of those in Utah).

Hobbs' first introduction to water was when he was about 5 months old and he loved it right from the start! He did like to climb onto us and rest, but he would do labby scoots in and out of the water. Now, he also likes lakes and ponds, but gets a little stressed when he has to swim for very long. Pools are another story, He likes to be in them, but has yet to learn what the stairs are, and prefers to just be carried around in the pool. He hasn't been in the ocean either :(

Great topic for this week!

Carrie and Waffle  – (April 21, 2009 at 10:44 AM)  

Yeah most of my girls never read the lab manual where it describes them as 'water dogs'. Only Lani showed any inclination to playing in it. She loved the gradual slope the lake and would play with people on the edge. When the water got up to her chest the game was over. I took her to a pool and got in and was playing around. They don't understand water, she walked right off the edge into the pool to join me and sank like a stone. They can doggy paddle, but often it is more like flaying to stay alive. after I showed her steps, she got out and proceeded to lecture me on just how unsafe the pool was and I should come out right away.

Megan and Fullerton  – (April 21, 2009 at 2:24 PM)  

Out of my seven pups only two have liked water. The rest were either terrified of it or just didn't want to get thier paws wet. My first puppy, Prudy, was never in enough water to actually swim until she was cc'd and then i took her camping and to lakes and rivers and she LOVED swimming around. I think she mostly wanted to follow me around though. The other was Spanky the pup I had before Fuller, he was reserved at first but after a few times to the ocean/pool/lake he would go in and swim around too. I am so excited to test Fullerton this summer and see how he likes the water, unfortunatly where I am there is little "swimming quality" water around.

Madison and Andros  – (April 21, 2009 at 2:55 PM)  

Both my puppies have LOVED to swim in lake....not pools however! So #1 & #2 can both swim and LOVE water!

Martha G  – (April 21, 2009 at 2:57 PM)  

I don't know about pools - our weather up here in the Northwest has not been conducive to swimming lately - but Ardella HATES to walk in the rain. We have a wading pool for our Cairn terrier and I'll introduce her to that first. I would love to see how she reacts to the ocean - not that she's going to swim in it.

Kelsey, Burgess, and Tahoe  – (April 21, 2009 at 3:02 PM)  

Haha, for being labs, many of GDB's puppies don't really like the water all that much. I can't actually attest to that fact though, because Chappelle loves water, Spike was splashing through his water bowl on the way home from campus at 8 weeks old, Burgess loves it, and so does Tahoe. I haven't had much experience with dogs in swimming pools, but I would say maybe try taking Cabana to a lake and see if she likes the water there! Also, bringing a water obsessed dog with you might help coax Cabana into the water. Perhaps if she likes the lake or other body of water, the pool might seem more tempting. :)

Elizabeth and Peyton  – (April 21, 2009 at 3:52 PM)  

Only one of my babies has liked the water. The others wanted NOTHING to do with it. My first GDB puppy was also my first Lab and I had always heard that Labs were swimmers but that has definitely not been my experience!

Emily, Burgess, and Tahoe  – (April 21, 2009 at 4:25 PM)  

Some pups like the water, and some don't! If they don't like it, you can coax all you want, and they still won't get in ;) So, sadly, I don't know if you'll be able to get her in. I'd let her do it on her own though, and not force her. She is still young, so maybe she'll decide it's not so bad sometime soon.

Lisa and Ellie  – (April 21, 2009 at 6:36 PM)  

Runza, my first, wasn't keen on water till he was at least a year old. Then, something must have turned on in his head... he was a swimmer after that.

Ellie, my second, HATES the water. She will play along the edge (as long as she isn't too close) She'll run to it and come to a screeching halt as soon as she sees the water. She hates her baths too. She's a bit of a priss though!

Becky  – (April 21, 2009 at 8:54 PM)  

Cricket hates the water! Whether it is avoiding the ocean or guiding around puddles and sprinklers - she strongly dislikes it! Pantera loved the water ... including walking straight through sprinklers if necessary to stay on the path. Love their individuality!

OSU 98  – (April 21, 2009 at 9:09 PM)  

Chelsie comes from a hunting line and is obsessed with water - if she sees water, she thinks she should be in it (hence, we keep towels in the car at all times). She sees water and forgets everything she once knew...I might as well be speaking Greek to her when she has water in her sight (a swift correction and few commands helps her regain focus) We go to the dog park - she cares nothing for the 50 other dogs there, all she cares about is what I throw in the water and how many times she can chase it. I physically have to walk her away from it.

Take comfort in the fact that the first time I put her in the water she was very unsure. But since then, she has absolutely been in love with the water....mommy's favorite is 65 lbs of unplanned wet dog...

Erin,Bubs,Tex and Veda  – (April 21, 2009 at 9:48 PM)  

All three of my guide dog puppies loved water, my last one, if she'd become a guide would have probably dragged her person in the water if she'd come near something like that!!! My dachshunds are NOT water dogs at all, I saw some with a photo of their dachshund in water and it SHOCKED Me!!!I'm sure Veda would love a pool if we could get one :D

soccerdog_7  – (April 21, 2009 at 10:17 PM)  

Aislin isn't so crazy about the water. The first time I took her to the beach as an adult and let her be off leash, she ran into the waves to chase her ball, seemed to realize where she was and froze. It took her a few seconds to realize that she could walk away just fine. She hasn't touched the water since. It's been so long since she has been around the lake or a pool that I am not sure what she would do anymore.

My other GSD Sharla LOVES water. If she sees an opportunity, there is no keeping her out. She will jump into the pool from the side, dive into lakes, and jump off a boat into a lake! She loves the water so much but she gets tired quickly, so I have put one life jacket under her chest, another under her rear, and she will happily float in the lake. It's pretty funny.

Morrissey I am not sure about yet. I haven't taken him to any water places, but I am sure that will happen this summer. Knowing his background, I am expecting him to end up loving it, and becoming quite a good swimmer.

Good topic, and great blog! I meant to tell you at the puppy meeting tonight, but was too busy focusing on my wimpy golden.

Lacey  – (April 22, 2009 at 11:29 AM)  

Last summer at Camp Bloomfield we had a pool party at one of the staff members houses (she rasies for GDA). I guess we had at least five dogs (four PITs, one pet) and none of them were excited about the water. At all. They tried to drown whoever was nearest by scrambling on top of their head and leaving long, red, scratches down everyone's back and arms. Eventually some of them calmed down, but no one fell in love with swimming.

None of my pups have ever liked to swim anywhere, but my pet dog started to like it when she saw me teaching my first PIT to swim. Now she is a big swimmer. She jumps in without any coaxing at all. Unfortunately, as she has gotten older and less shy and more and more bold, she has started to get less and less trustworthy off leash, and a leashed dog has some difficulty swimming.

Cabana's Puppy Raiser  – (April 22, 2009 at 1:47 PM)  

Well, I guess I don't know whether to have hope for swimming with Cabana this summer or not. But it definitely seems to be the consensus that Labs aren't the natural-born swimmers they're thought to be! Maybe it's for the best that Cabana doesn't like the pool, though, because she definitely fills the water with her fur sheddings. And I can attest to those long red scratches Lacey mentioned, down both of my legs. I'll try a lake or the ocean with Cabana next time. Thanks for the great comments, everyone!!

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