If you’re wondering how poodles fare in water or if you’re just looking to take your poodle from the first dip to dock dives and smooth strokes, this article has what you’re looking for.
I answer all your questions about poodles and swimming; such as how well poodles can swim, whether they have a natural knack for it and a guide on how you can show a poodle the ropes.
So, can poodles really swim? Poodles can swim. Actually, they can swim really well. It is commonly believed that poodles, in the past, were bred as bonafide water retrievers. Poodles waterproof coats and webbed paws contribute to their proficiency in the water. Taking your poodle for a swim is a great way to exercise.
Although there is a debate on whether the poodle originated from France or Germany, both origins highlight the dog breed’s skills on the water.
For instance, the name poodle borrows from the German word “Pudelhund”; “Pudel” translates to “to splash about” whereas “hund” means “dog” in German. Therefore, it loosely translates to a dog that splashes about.
The French called the poodle “caniche” which roughly translates to “female duck”: the poodle was an effective helper at duck hunting.
Why are Poodles good swimmers?
Some say that poodles are naturally born swimmers. This is because they are born with the following features:
- Water-proof coats.
- Webbed paws.
- Excess fur around the head, chest, and ankles to keep their organs warm in the water.
- A top-knot haircut to shield the eyes from water.
- A natural instinct in the water.
- Tons of energy.
Some of the swimming benefits for poodles are:
- It helps to strengthen the poodle’s muscles.
- It can be a form of therapeutic relaxation for poodles.
- It can be a good place for bonding with your poodle.
How to Train a Poodle for Swimming
Although poodles come equipped with these marvelous abilities for the water, they don’t all have similar attitudes for the water. Some poodles take a swift dip and then run quickly out. Others resist the pool at all costs.
If you’re wondering how to train your poodle for the water, here are some tips. It is usually best to start him early, but if you have an older poodle, swimming is not out of the picture yet.
Here are the tips:
Slowly expose your poodle to water
If your poodle has never swum before, it is best to expose the poodle to water gradually. Start with a walk by the beach, for instance – or a lake or river if you have one nearby.
Let your poodle experience the wet feeling of the water against his paws but do not force him into the water. The purpose of this step is to introduce him to water in a safe environment.
Walking in shallow water
When your poodle has gotten used to water a bit, you can introduce him to some shallow water.
Shallow in the sense that he can touch the floor with his feet. The intention is to make your poodle feel confident and secure in the water. The ocean is perfect for this.
Keep in mind that sometimes the poodle can resist the shallow water because of its temperature. So, in the beginning, lukewarm water or water that isn’t too cold could be more accommodating for your poodle.
Padding in slightly deeper water
Then, it’s time to leave the shallow waters. For this step, you will be your poodle’s support. Encourage your poodle to paddle to you in slightly deeper water. But don’t move further away from him.
Also, it can be helpful to introduce some element of play in this step, just to ease your poodle’s tensions about the water.
Precautions: Don’t forget to take precautions in this step. Don’t move to step three and four until your poodle is ready.
Watch out for signs of discomfort or exhaustion. Do these steps in a swimming pool since its water has no waves or undertows, and gently support your poodle until he’s ready to start swimming. Attach a life vest to your poodle to keep him safe.
Also, if you’re doing this step in a swimming pool, ensure that your poodle is able to get out of the pool on her own, through steps or ladders.
Show her where they are. If your poodle cannot, place a lamp with a non-skid surface so that your poodle can easily climb out of the pool if he needs to.
Train your poodle in-water skills
Once your poodle is comfortable with padding in the water, you can go ahead and start training him on some swimming tricks of your choosing.
But only use floating toys. A floating ball works great.
Poodles are highly intelligent and this is where the water-loving gene of your water retriever should kick in. But take it easy, and, most of all, ensure that it’s fun for your poodle. Throw in some treats to encourage him.
A special one for the oldies:
If you’re worried that your poodle will never warm up to swimming, you can try doing the above steps in the presence of other poodles who are comfortable with swimming. Socialization with other poodles can be a source of inspiration or comfort for your poodle.
How different types of poodles react to swim training
There are various types of poodles out there. Let’s touch on the three most common: standard, miniature, and toy poodles. First, these three types of poodles are great swimmers.
Subsequently, because of its size, the standard poodle can train for a longer time without tiring, as compared to miniature and toy poodles. Therefore, watch out for early signs of exhaustion.
Elsewhere, the miniature poodle will be most playful in the water because of his hyperactive nature. Same as the toy poodles.
For miniature and toy poodles, swimming can be a way to tame their hyperactive tendencies while also having a good time.
The Final Word
Ultimately, training your poodle requires patience. Your poodle trusts you wholeheartedly, but don’t abuse that trust by stepping beyond his boundaries for the pleasure of a good water trick. Instead, work with him, learn his limits, and encourage him to take each step when he’s ready.
Finally, when your poodle starts swimming, maintain a safe distance by ensuring that he doesn’t venture too far out. This is because, eventually, he will require the energy to get back. So, stay close by in case he needs some help.