German shepherds are hailed for their ability to do best what they were bred for; herding and guarding. You’ll hardly miss a German shepherd dog among dog lovers.
Their companion, speed, and strength are something every dog owner praises them for. Considering that this breed was not initially meant for guarding and herding flocks, can German shepherds swim?
German shepherds can swim even though they were not naturally bred to do so. Some German shepherds are afraid of water. With superb training and patience, they can get used to it and swim. Fit and healthy German shepherds can swim for at most 30 minutes, while starters can go for at least 10 minutes. Start slow and swim with your German shepherd to make him swim.
Why Aren’t German Shepherds Natural Swimmers
Looking at the history of German shepherd dogs, they were initially bred and loved for their excellent herding skill. Simply put, they were not exposed to a water dominated environment. Rather, they were exposed to dry zones.
Since they were not bred to live in water, they naturally don’t know how to swim neither are they, natural swimmers.
Due to their brevity, ability to learn fast, and willingness to please their owners, German shepherds are easy to train how to swim.
Can German Shepherds Swim in Chlorinated Pools?
Chlorinated water affects the gastrointestinal tract. Your German shepherd is, therefore, likely to vomit or experience nausea. Otherwise, esophagus disorders might also occur.
To keep your dog safe, ensure that chlorine is not too high. On the other hand, too little chlorine is equally not good. It could also pave the way for fungi, bacteria, and algae in the water.
In case your dog gets into contact with such water, inhales, or ingests it, he is likely to fall sick. The trick is to have the chemically balanced (not too low and too high).
Are German Shepherds Afraid of Water?
Though German shepherds are brave dogs, some may have a fear of water. Sub-consequently, they may be unwilling to swim.
Such fear doesn’t mean your dog is inferior; neither does it mean that he can never swim. With professional training and patience, your German shepherd could be one of the best swimmers you’ve ever seen.
How do I get my German Shepherd to swim? Training your GS How to Swim Safely!
First of all, why is it crucial to train your dog how to swim safely? A couple of things can go wrong if your dog is not trained to swim. Such could include; drowning and swallowing water.
So, how do you ensure he is safe?
Use a Top-Quality Doggy Life-Vest
Your dog doesn’t know how to swim. You’re, therefore, uncertain of what could go wrong while he is in there. To ensure he is safe; the life-vest is a must have. They say, “Better safe than sorry!” Secondly, life-vests are extra buoyancy. They, therefore, save the dog from getting excessively fatigued.
Besides, to avoid swallowing water, the dog needs to keep his head out of the water while swimming. This can be hard for a new swimmer, puppy, or aged dog. A life-vest makes it possible to keep his head above the water. That also limits chances of drowning.
Lastly, in case you realize that he is drowning, with a life-vest, you can easily grab him out of the water real fast.
Start Him Off in Still Water
Your dog is just starting off, right? Start by walking with him in shallow, still waters. As his feet get wet, he will start getting used to the water temperatures. Consequently, he won’t get anxious, thus corporate without many issues, if any.
If you notice he is comfortable or is enjoying it, try moving him in a slightly deeper place.
Please walk with him all along. Your presence assures him he is safe. If all is still well, try going to deeper areas where he can use his legs to kick the water.
Take Him to Moving Water
Now that he is comfortable in shallow, still water, you bet he can’t fear moving water. Please note that at this time, he should have his life-vest on.
When dogs are unsure of how to swim, they’ll likely use their two front legs. The vest helps to keep all his four legs in motion.
In addition, since he is just starting, he could easily get tired. The vest lowers chances of getting weary really quick.
While on training sessions, avoid every manner of distractions, especially if you’re training him in deep water or in the sea.
A strong wind could take place unexpectedly, and the worst happens.
Besides that, ensure that the environment is conducive for training. Such places are free from noise. Quiet places help the dog hear clearly when you issue commands to him. He’ll respond fast and in time, especially when trying to save him from incoming danger.
It’s also good to ensure that the area doesn’t have too many activities going on. Such could distract your attention as well as that of the dog, thereby making the session ineffective.
Carry Drinking Water for Your Pet
Sometimes we want to drink water because we see it. The same would apply to dogs, especially on hot days. Like we have said previously, drinking chlorinated could cause health complications to your dog.
Therefore, limit the chances of your dog drinking pool or ocean water by carrying clean, fresh water for him. Allow him to take enough of it during breaks to keep him hydrated. It is paramount.
Consistency is Key
“Practice makes perfect.” Remember? So, do not stop taking your GS to the pool simply because he has become a professional swimmer.
If you neglect taking him to the swimming pool to practice what you’ve taught him, he is likely to forget how to swim or deteriorate over time.
Always Wash and Rinse Him
Regardless of the type of water your dog has been into, it is always a good habit to wash your dog after swimming. Even when he swims in freshwater? Yes!
Rinsing him washes away sand, blue-green algae, residual chemicals, or any other foreign thing clinging on his fur.
How Long can German Shepherds Swim for?
It might take a couple of days before your GS can swim all by himself. Don’t panic. All dogs are unique, just like humans are. As such, one GS will learn how to swim fast while another will take a longer time. That could be yours.
So, what do you do in such a case?
Just be patient with him. Also, don’t multitask during training sessions. Always keep an eye on your dog. Anything can happen within a twinkle of an eye. Before you know it, your dog is dead. God forbid!
Again, since it is the first time he is learning how to swim, do not have him in the water for more than 20 minutes. That is if he is cooperating and relaxed in the water. If, however, he is totally traumatized, discontinue. Go home and set another day.
Vital Equipment to Enhance Safety During Swimming Sessions
We’ve said it; a life-vest is not an option; it is a must-have if you treasure your dog.
Apart from that, there are other vital assets you must have:
Do German shepherds like to swim while in leashes?
Of course, German shepherd leashes limit their freedom. They just can’t go too far than you wish. They might, therefore, not like them, especially when in water. The leash, however, helps you save his life when a need arises.
To start with, buy a 15 to 20 feet leash. Your dog should not go very far from the bank of the water as he is not a professional swimmer yet.
Once he is a professional swimmer, you can go for a 30 to 50 feet leash. This, sometimes, can tangle.
The dog’s legs might get tangled; hence, making it impossible to move them, thereby endangering his life. Be careful, therefore!
Alternatively, buy German shepherd Dog floating Leashes.
If he is able to swim back to you safely a couple of times, you might not need the leash anymore. Just let him have the life-vest.
Waterproof Dog Collar
Without a dog collar, it could be impossible to pull your dog out of the dangerous water. Still, with dog collars, you can easily spot your dog from a far-off.
This doesn’t only apply when he is in the water, but also when he is on the road or other places.
There are good German shepherd goggles. Mostly when starting the swimming classes, your German shepherd needs these goggles. Remember, he is still learning to keep his head above the water. Chances are, therefore, high that he could have his head in the water.
If the water is salty or chlorinated, it could irritate his eyes. This is where goggles come in handy.
If, however, your dog is uneasy in them, there’s no need to force him to wear them. That would only be making his sessions unbearable, thereby making it hard for you as well.
As long as he has the life-vest, his head should stay above the water. Meaning his eyes are safe.
Simple Tricks to Help Your Dog Swim
Some GS dogs might not be willing to get their feet in water. It can be disturbing, but don’t give up yet. Try to entice him. Of course, there are those floating toys he loves most. Such are what to use in his swimming training sessions.
Like most GS dogs, your dog loves to play fetch, right? Most likely, he’ll also be interested to play-fetch in the swimming pool or the sea.
So, throw a floating toy in the water and let him play fetch them.
Use toys such as discs, balls, rings, or any other throw toy your pet loves.
Can German shepherds swim any better when praised? We all love being praised for any minor or major thing we do. Correct? Dogs are no exception. Praising him is another sign language to tell him, “You’re making me proud. Keep going!”
He will understand that he is doing a commendable job. To keep receiving those praises, he’ll always want to do what you command him to do. In other words, praises and treats will make the training much easier for you.
Frequently Asked Questions
a. Are German Shepherds Water Dogs?
While they may not naturally be water dogs, you can always train them to swim. Eventually, they will love playing in the water and spend time there. Unfortunately, since this breed was not meant for swimming, most likely, he will not swim brilliantly like other breeds.
So, if you want a dog that performs excellently when it comes to swimming, buy the top swimming dog breeds.
b. Do German Shepherds Like Water?
Like we have said, unless there has been a scary experience in the past, most GS have no problems diving in the water. In fact, since they are playful, courageous, and strong, they love to play in the water.