Can all dogs swim?

teaching a dog to swim

Musik navigates a tide pool on Crissy Field Beach. (Schnauzers are notoriously bad swimmers!)

Some dogs are born to be in the water, and will jump in and swim at their first chance. Other dogs can be taught to swim. Some never learn. If you’re going to be near water, it’s important to find out if your dog can swim. You need to train them so if they fall in, they will not panic and they will know how to safely get out of the water.


I taught my dog, Kompis, to swim when she was younger. She doesn’t like to swim, but she gets by. On a trip to the British Virgin Islands, there was a pool on one the properties where we stayed.  Since I knew the importance of teaching a dog to swim, I had to make sure that, if Kompis fell in, she would be able to swim AND get out of the pool by herself. So, I did a couple practice runs – and she did wonderfully!


Watch Kompis swimming & getting out of pool in Tortola, BVI


However, when I’m on a small boat or in water with currents, I always make my dog wear their life preserver to be safe. Below is a picture of the type of vest I got for Kompis for our adventures. I like that it has a handle on the top so I can quickly grab her if needed to pull her to safety. Investing in a vest like this (pun intended) could save your dog’s life, so it’s well worth it!


teaching a dog to swim

Using a dog life jacket is a MUST if you’re going on a boat or near deep water.

Final tip… make sure your go at your dog’s pace when teaching a dog to swim!  They might be a little nervous, but they should not be panicked or scared.  That will just backfire and make them more fearful of the water. Instead, train in small increments and in very shallow water at first.  Once you see your dog is relaxing into it, THEN you can venture into deeper & deeper water.


Happy swimming!