Q: When is the best age to teach a puppy to swim?
A: Most dogs will start to paddle when placed in water, but this does not mean they can swim if left in the water. I am not sure if there is an actual age when you should start teaching a dog to swim, but from about six months of age should be fine. It is important that when you start teaching your dog to swim that you do it slowly and don’t just throw him in the water.
Some dogs can swim better that others, for example the Labrador usually loves water and can swim a lot better than Bulldogs and Bull Terriers who tend to ‘sink’ due to their heavy frames. When teaching a dog to swim in the swimming pool, always start by showing them how to get out of the pool. Some dogs may never learn to be comfortable in water and may never be able to swim well. For these dogs you can get a type of floatation vest that may help them to support their weight and therefore swim better.
Dr Vanessa McClure, veterinarian