If you have yet to take your pooch swimming with you and the coming nice weather will offer the first chance to do so be prepared! Some dogs are a little hesitant about their first swimming lessons and if they become scared, have a bad experience, or get pushed into the situation it could ruin their enthusiasm for it. We want our dogs to share all kinds of different experiences with us and swimming is no different. It is an amazing form of exercise for any dog and many times we use swimming as a treat/reward for a good days work!
Whether you have an 8 week old puppy or a 2 year old adult dog that's never been in the water before the same principles will apply. First I would recommend just playing a simple game of fetch. Throw a dummy towards the edge of the water and give him/her a chance to explore what it is when they go after the toy. After they have had a chance to smell the water or maybe even dip their feet in a little after the toy....jump in! The biggest thing is that if your dog is expected to go in the water....so are you! Be as adventurous as your expecting your dog to be and get in there, take some toys/treats, and coax your dog to come to you. They will trust getting in the water more if they see us in there too.
Now, of course use your judgment and don't let a tiny pup swim in deep water without help and same with an older dog. Swimming is a very strenuous activity for them and it is easy to get cramps, get tired quickly, or be a little unsure as how to swim right away. So keep close to your partner and be ready to help if they need it. Also, make sure the water is warm enough for them to enjoy it.....around 60° degrees at least.
One of the best ways to introduce a dog to water for the first time is have a buddy system. If you have another dog, whether yours or a friends, that enjoys the water bring them along. Dogs learn a lot from other dogs. If they can see and understand its nothing the other dog is afraid of then they might be a little more apt to jump in!
If your dog still seems scared or unsure of entering the water take a little break. Go sit along the shore and get their attention off the task at hand. Try again in 15-20 minutes and see how they react....it might just take them a little while to warm up to the idea. It might even take a few of these trips to the water before they are comfortable enough to get in on their own. One thing I would never, ever do is force your dog into the water. DO NOT throw them in thinking they will enjoy it! This is what will most likely turn a dog away from being any type of water dog. What good is a waterfowl dog that is scared and anxious of the water? This could ruin a perfectly good duck hunting partner!
Some breeders will have already introduced your puppy to water by the time you get to bring them home. If they have not then it will be a good bonding experience between the two of you! Remember to be patient with your dog and let them have the time they need to become agreeable to the situation. If they can learn at a slower pace and not be forced it will make it something they really love! Not something they feel they have to do....and what fun is that if your dog isn't having fun!
Professional Gun Dog Breeder