How Old Should Puppies Be Before They Go Swimming?

Swimming is a wonderful way for you to have fun with your pup and to get some exercise at the same time.

If you have a new puppy you need to know how old your puppy should be before they can go swimming.

Two to five months is old enough for a puppy to start swimming. 

This will vary depending on breed, health, and their attitude toward the water.

Find out if your puppy can swim and the benefits of teaching a puppy to swim at an early age.

You’ll also discover whether puppies can swim in pools, chlorine pools, and lakes. And learn valuable water safety tips for puppies.

Learn how to introduce your puppy to water and how to teach them to swim.

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How old should puppies be for swimming

Can Puppies Swim?

Yes. Puppies older than 2 months can go swimming. But they will need your help and guidance.

Many puppies know how to swim the moment they encounter water because they’re naturally bred for it, while others will need further training. 

Some puppies may never learn to swim at all. 

Contrary to popular belief, not all dogs are born to swim. And if you have a puppy who’s under two months old, it’s unlikely that they are ready for swimming.

All puppies will need your help with swimming because their legs are still too fragile and small to paddle. 

Their lungs are not yet developed enough to be able to breathe with half of their body underwater.

The first step in knowing if your puppy can swim is first determining their breed. Retrievers, Setters, and Spaniels will naturally enjoy swimming.

However, Pugs and Bulldogs won’t be huge fans.

The next steps include considering their stage in puppyhood, whether they have a fear of the water, and any health issues that might affect their ability to swim.

What Age Can Puppies Start Swimming?

A puppy can go swimming at around two to five months, more specifically at ten weeks.

So, if your pup is younger than that, wait for a few more weeks. There is no need to hurry.

Otherwise, they may end up drowning or developing joint problems at an early age. 

You should start your puppy with small bodies of water like a swimming pool. 

You can even start with the bathtub or a kiddie pool to avoid them getting intimidated by a large pool.

Increase their familiarity gradually and build up their confidence before you take on the ocean or lake.

If your puppy is already at an appropriate age but still won’t participate in swimming lessons, this is also okay. Some furry friends take longer to learn how to swim.

It’s either their body can’t physically manage it yet or they are still not mentally prepared for it. 

The best tip is to gradually introduce them to water. Desensitize them so they overcome any hesitation of the water, then start teaching them how to paddle. 

Can puppies swim

Is Swimming Good for Puppies?

Yes. Swimming provides various health benefits for your puppy and establishes a bond between the two of you.

Here are the advantages of swimming for dogs and why you need to start them young.

Swimming is Great Exercise

Swimming gets your puppy’s whole body moving. Some even say that a minute of swimming is equal to four minutes of running.

The earlier your puppy familiarizes themselves with the pool, the more likely they will enjoy splashing and swimming in it.

Swimming helps with your pup’s overall health, such as building strength in the heart and lungs and improving blood circulation, metabolism, and resistance of the limbs.

A fit dog is less likely to be injured no matter what activity they are engaged in.

Swimming Relieves Stress

Swimming is awesome for your dog’s well-being because they are mentally stimulated from the paddling, the sensory experience, bonding with you, and the exercise itself.

Like humans, dogs always want something new to enjoy. If they are used to walking around the park, playing fetch, or doing nose work, why not excite them with swimming?

A happily tired dog is a good dog!

Playtime for You Both

Swimming provides happiness for your dog not only because of the fun activity and enriching environment but also because of you. 

This sport or leisurely activity is a fantastic way to spend time with your pup so you will develop an unbreakable bond.

A strong bond will lead to easier training sessions, obedience, and an overall happy relationship with your pup.

Can Puppies Swim in Pools?

Yes. A pool is the best place to start your puppy swimming.

Remember that a pool could be too big for your two-month-old puppy.

If your puppy is too little, it’s okay to start small with the bathtub or a kiddie pool. This is especially important if they are not a natural swimmer.

Fill a kiddie pool until it is up to your puppy’s first joint on their front legs. This will kickstart the training, so they become confident in the shallow water.

Wellness Soft Puppy Bites Lamb & Salmon Dog Treats, 8-oz Bag

Getting them to approach the pool is easy if you have training treats to lure them, such as these Wellness Natural Pet Food Store’s Soft Puppy Bites!

As they get more confident, work your way up until they are ready for a larger pool.

If you have a puppy who is a few months old they may benefit from the swimming pool as long as you take the right safety precautions and properly train them. 

Try taking them to the steps first. This will show them how they can get in and out of the pool.

Remember, a puppy may not be strong enough to swim in a lake or ocean yet. Don’t ever allow them into large bodies of water unless you have done this initial training.

Can Puppies Swim in Chlorine Pools?

Chlorine is generally safe for your puppy’s health if the swimming pool has the correct levels. 

The safe level of chlorine to swim in is a pH 7.2 to 7.8 and a free chlorine concentration of at least 1ppm. 

For hot tubs and spas, it should be a minimum of 3 ppm. 

Some dogs can be sensitive to chlorine, especially if they are still a puppy.

The sensitive parts of the body that may be affected by chlorine include their eyes, nose, and ears.

The biggest risk is an ear infection. Dogs with long ears, such as the Basset Hound and Beagle, are more susceptible to it. 

Make sure no water is trapped in your dog’s floppy ears by drying them and cleaning them after swimming.

It’s also vital for you to control the amount of time your puppy spends in pool water. Some puppies exhibit signs of irritation due to a longer time in a chlorinated pool.

Puppies can also develop dry, flaky skin from both pool and ocean water.

To keep your puppy safe in a chlorinated pool, be sure to shower them after swimming to rinse off the chemicals.

You also want to stop them from drinking chlorinated pool water. 

This can cause an upset stomach including vomiting and diarrhea.

When should you let puppies swim

Can Puppies Swim in Lakes?

No. Puppies should not swim in lakes. It can lead to drowning, especially for puppies that are only two months old or younger.

Puppies should only start swimming in the tub or a kiddie pool. Once they grow a little older and have more experience with swimming, they can swim in deeper water.

But lakes are a big no-no, even for adult dogs.

Here are other reasons why your puppy should not swim in lakes.

Blue-Green Algae

Blue-green algae isn’t an algae, but strains of cyanobacteria in algae that can be toxic to our dogs. 

These are more common during summer due to higher temperatures and scarce rain. 

You’ll know a lake is infested with algae if the water has scum parches on the surface that look like motor oil.

Signs of blue-green algae poisoning in puppies include the following:

  • lethargy
  • diarrhea
  • disorientation
  • seizures
  • tremors
  • trouble breathing
  • vomiting.

Don’t confuse blue-green algae with red tides. Red tides are certain types of algae that give the water a red color. 

The toxins in red tide often spread through the air which can be extremely dangerous. 

Water Temperature

Lakes have unpredictable water temperatures. Take note that, the colder the water, the more exhausted your puppy gets when swimming.

If your dog can handle the depth of the lake and you can guarantee that the waters are free from blue-green algae, make sure to control their lake activity.

Always keep a close eye on your dog and be ready to help them out when they need it.

Rip Currents

Rip currents can form by the coasts of large lakes, so watch out for your puppy at all times.

These are dangerous water currents that can carry you and your puppy away, resulting in drowning and death. 

Dogs who get caught in rip currents can survive, but puppies have a lower chance of swimming against it despite their innate knowledge. 

Other Lake-Related Issues for Puppies

Aside from swimming in the lake, some lake activities can also be harmful to your puppy. 

For instance, if you’re fishing while they are swimming, the hook on your fishing rod could end up in their nose or mouth. Or they could get tangled in the line.

Keep sinkers away from your puppy because they can lead to lead toxicity if your pup swallows them.

Remember to prevent your puppy from playing with or ingesting salmon because they contain a type of bacteria and worm that can cause salmon poisoning disease.

Signs of this disease include:

  • enlarged lymph nodes
  • fever
  • diarrhea
  • vomiting. 

Water Safety Tips for Puppies

Be extra careful with puppies when they are swimming. Here are some safety tips to consider.

Start Slow When Training Your Puppy

Not all puppies are natural swimmers. Some don’t learn at all, while others get nervous the first time they swim. 

Take it slow when you’re training them. Don’t force them to jump right in. Don’t even think about throwing them into the pool!

The best way to help your dog approach the pool is by using positive reinforcement techniques. Lure them with a treat then give it to them once they reach the pool.

Give Your Puppy a Life Vest

Even if you have a puppy who seems like they were born to swim, it’s still necessary to get them into a life jacket. 

Puppies don’t have perfect coordination yet. They may sink, get carried away by a current, or get tired in the middle of the water.

Swimming gear can help them stay above the water with little effort.

Check out our buying guide for dog life vests and other swimming gear to help you decide which one to get. 

Don’t Let Your Dog Drink Pool or Ocean Water

Drinking pool water in tiny amounts is generally safe for puppies, especially if the chlorine levels are not too high.

Take note that the safe chlorine level for pools is about 1-3 parts per million (ppm).  

Ocean water is less safe because it has an osmotic effect, which dehydrates your pup’s intestines. This results in vomiting and diarrhea.

This diarrhea happens rapidly and can damage your puppy’s kidneys in a short amount of time. 

It is better to stop your puppy when you notice they are drinking the water. Make sure they get plenty of freshwater to drink before and after a swim session.

Talk to Your Vet

Ask your vet whether or not your puppy is ready to learn how to swim. They’ll most likely say that you should start them young.

But they’ll also give you precautions, especially if your dog’s breed does not make them a natural swimmer.

Your vet may also give you preventatives to avoid diseases and illnesses from swimming. 

For example, the Leptospira vaccine may be recommended for puppies who love the outdoors. Leptospirosis may be a result of bacteria from lakes, ponds, and swamps. 

It can easily lead to failure of the kidney organ if untreated. 

Wash Your Dog After Swimming

Wash your puppy after they go swimming to get rid of bacteria that gets trapped in their fur. 

This will also prevent them from developing dry skin and fur from chlorine or saltwater. 

These chemicals can also cause itchiness, so make sure to give them a good shower.

Another reason to bathe your dog after swimming is to avoid ear infections. Learn how to clean your puppy’s ears to make sure they are clean and dry after a dip. 

If you don’t at least rinse your puppy after swimming, they may end up grooming themselves by licking their body. Then, they will swallow any nasty or toxic components.

When can puppies go swimming

How to Introduce a Puppy to Water

If your puppy is old enough to test the waters, here’s a step-by-step guide to help you get them confident in the pool.

Choose a Safe and Quiet Area

The first step to introducing your puppy to swimming is by selecting a peaceful place to train them. You don’t want your puppy to become distracted and overwhelmed the first time.

First impressions last! So, look for a quiet area where there are no scary sounds, objects, and people.

Make sure that the water is also shallow, clear, and calm. 

The best option is a shallow pool in your yard.

As we’ve mentioned several times, don’t force your pup into the water! Don’t throw them in or lead them to deep water right away.

Make the Experience a Fun One

Make the learning experience an enjoyable one for your puppy. During the first few sessions, give them a treat and verbal praises so they will be more comfortable.

The sessions need to be done in short bursts to avoid boredom and tiring your puppy. Always end your training session with positive reinforcement. 

Lead by Example

If your puppy still does not want to approach the pool, why not try going into the water first? 

Like babies, puppies love to imitate us. When we get our feet wet, they will surely want to get their paws wet as well.

Take a dip in the pool and attach a leash to them so you can encourage them to come. Don’t use a choke chain or a prong collar for this.

You also don’t want to pull too hard as you might end up hurting them. Call their name, let them follow you, and give them a treat if they obey. 

Do not force them. Just keep coaxing them and giving them rewards. 

How to Teach a Puppy to Swim

Once your puppy builds confidence in the pool, take this opportunity to start teaching them how to swim.

Some puppies will be easier to teach or won’t even need assistance at all!

Here’s how to teach your puppy how to swim. 

Watch Their Body Language

If your dog is already exploring the water, watch their body language closely. Do they seem happy and confident? Or does it seem like they are nervous or anxious?

Body language tells you a lot about how your puppy is feeling. Always examine it, especially as you gradually move into deeper water. 

A happy dog will continue paddling while their tail wags and their ears are at ease. They also swim better because their torso is relaxed.

But a nervous dog is likely to shiver, bark, and swim toward the exit with a stiff body.

Support Them While Paddling

Paddling will come naturally to your puppy as their instinct is to stay afloat and survive.

Still, you have to support their fragile body. Try using your arm under them to provide additional floating support as they navigate their way through the pool.

Place it under your pup’s belly to allow them to paddle their rear legs along with their front legs. 

Don’t Forget About the Praises

Once your swimming session is over, make sure to offer them plenty of treats and praises. 

This will ensure that your puppy will keep coming back for more and will grow into pro swimmers!

Start Your Puppy Young!

Swimming has a lot of healthy benefits for your puppy! And these advantages double if you start them young.

Your puppy can start swimming at around two months in shallow water. Don’t hesitate to let them swim in kiddie pools and tubs before they take on big pools.

Build their confidence gradually and make sure they are safe from diseases, drowning, and other swimming risks. Find out how long your swimming sessions with your puppy should be so you don’t overtire them!