Your Retriever’s First Steps in the Water

Your Retriever’s First Steps in the Water

Your Retriever’s First Steps in the Water

Water should be introduced to your retriever pup at a young age. When the water is too cold or too deep, it is not recommended to try an introduction to it. Water should be introduced in a nice manner to the puppy at this point in order to prevent him from becoming scared of it. Avoid being excessively angry with your puppy if he does not enthusiastically enter or refuses to enter the water. 



The fact that you are making this mistaken attempt just serves to enhance his reluctance to go into the water and swim. Instead, on a warm day in the beginning, choose a shallow area in a pond where the puppy may stroll but will not be required to swim. Put your boots on, wade out into the shallows for a little distance, and beckon him over to you. 



Your dog will most likely be apprehensive at first. When he finally chooses to wade out to you, shower him with compliments and words of encouragement. Move the pup out a bit deeper each session until he has to swim a short distance. This situation should be repeated until he feels comfortable coming into the water and swimming.



 This may occur during the initial session, or it may take numerous sessions to get the desired results. However, after you have determined that your dog is comfortable in the water, it is time to move on.



After that, include a dummy into the mix and train the puppy to execute short water retrieves. Increase the distance as he builds confidence or until he is performing retrievals at a distance that you are pleased with.


 Again, do not put your puppy through retrieving feats that he would not be comfortable with and that he has not advanced far enough in his training to be able to perform. Instead of attempting to impress yourself and your friends with your puppy’s talents, gradually introduce him to water training. 



Never fall into the trap of trying to handle a puppy in water before the dog is able to be handled on land. It is almost probable that your retriever will not manage on land, and it is more more difficult to correct him on water, particularly if the puppy does not comprehend the directions.




Bill Gibson has spent the last 15 years studying, training, and learning how to implement low-force training techniques from masters in the United Kingdom, Ireland, and the United States. 




Team and Gundog Challenges have been won by Bill and his dogs in Northern Ireland. He has also served as a judge for the British Field Trial Society of America. Bill is the Director of Gundog Operations at Mossy Oak GameKeeper Kennels and is a former law enforcement officer.