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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
almost 6 month old lab pup has been in the water about 6 times now since spring has hit. First few sessions very hesitant of the water in general. Last 3 or so times out she is getting very comfortable in the water and will go get bumpers or birds out at wading depth (just shy of swimming depth). She just seems hesitant about the whole swimming part and wants to keep things shallow. Should I keep trying to push her out with teasing birds and bumpers or just let her feel the deep end out at her own pace? not scared of the wet part but not confident in the swimming just yet. She is young so I plan to just keep getting her out there and feel like she will figure it out. Just not sure if should keep up the enticements to get her to swimming depth or just let her play for now and get to loving the shallows more and more.

1st lap pup by the way, so 1st rodeo all the way around. Any help, very appreciated.

have another dog that swims well but i'm sure her water intro was more or less a big heave and splash into the water, but she loves it now. Didn't think this same approach was good for a working dog though with the time, effort and money going to be put into her.

Thanks
 

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One thing I've found in pups and dogs new to water is they have trouble getting their balance to swim. What I do in this case is get in my waders or knee deep boots (which ever works best) and let the pup wade out with me. Once they're as far out as they'll go pick them up and hold them in the water where it's deep enough where they can't touch. They'll splash and kick pretty soon they'll figure out how to keep their balance.

Initially they'll swim back to shore but after 2-3 times they'll realize that this is what they have to do to get what their bumper or wing. I've seen dogs catch their balance the first time and swim like crazy.

best of luck!
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
my 1st book, 10 minute retriever suggested this approach but i've been hesitant just based on some of the info i've gotten from searching threads. I guess what I was reading was more for a 1st time in the water type thing, but since I have a dog comfortable in water/wading depth then don't think this would spook her at this point. May try this next time out.

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I had the same issue with our six month lab when she was 3 months. She would get in and wade to retrieve but wouldn't swim. And like yours, she was very hesitate about water prior to even wading.

I got my hip waders on and walked her down a creek with a firm bottom. She followed me vigorously splashing along but not having to swim. And then I found a deeper spot in the creek where I could walk through but she had to swim. She did without hesitation. I don't think she really liked it but it was a very short swim and she would rather swim than not be able to follow me.

Next, I went to a lake, waded in, and then threw a bumper. Between her wanting to be with me and get the bumper, it was too much not to overcome her concern about swimming. Ever since that one session of walking the creek and wading in the lake, she now totally loves the water, and I think would rather retrieve in the water than on land.
 

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If you have another dog that swims well you can use that dog to your benefit. Start out by going swimming yourself and call the swimmer out to you. When the one dog is out there, get real excited calling your puppy out. It won't take long and she will be out there, jealousy can be a great traing tool.
 

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I have had great success with letting the older dog mentor the pup. Just be sure that the older dog is not going to get rough or accidentally dunk pup.

With my first one, my husband and I put on the bathing suits and walked out waist deep. First we held our hands under his belly, and then called him back and forth between us. He loved the game!
 

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Our yellow Lab female pup Maggie wouldn't put one toe in the Gulf of Mexico. Waves would come in and she would run onto the sand. No amount of coaxing would get her into the water until she saw two yellow Labs retrieving in the surf. She dove right in and tried to retrieve their bumpers. Try your pup with experienced retrievers, it worked for me.
 

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A live flapping pigeon usually works.....;);) Of course they have to like them on land first.....
 

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The older dog trick has worked for me with several dogs ,well enough that I didn't even attempt water introduction on my newest pup until the big dog came back from Texas trip (the water was warm enough in march this year in Missouri). and now the pup swims like a dolphin.
If your older dog is patient enough the pup will get real comfortable in water because they'll meet them on the way back and try to take the bumper so they learn to open their mouth,turn and be stable etc. in the water.
 

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I'm having similar problems with my 13 month old BLF. Today I followed the advice in the thread and had her wade in with me (I was in waders). One of the small ponds (20'x40') at work had recently been filled. I had her on a short lead and just kept walking and pulled her deeper. She flailed for a while but soon she settled down and started swimming. After a bit, I let her swim back to shore and retrieve a bumper. I did this a few times until she'd swim by my side into and out of the pond. She still won't go willingly, but she doesn't panic and readily swims across the pond. Towards the session's end, a slight tug on the leash had her swimming across the pond (short side). This is the most progress we've made up until this point. Thanks for the tips!

Oh yeah. Prior to this, my boss's German shepherd was doing water retrieves and all Halle did was run along the bank and/or stay about chest deep. She was super excited but just wouldn't make the jump into deeper water.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
good news, I followed the advice of kcrumpy this morning and after the pup came out to me and the bumper as far as she would come, I went over and gently picked her up and talked to her to keep her calm and brought her the rest of the way out to the bumper and held her in the water for a second and then let her go, she started swimming with no submarine dives. She did swim back to shore so I did the same thing again and this time she swam and grabbed the bumper before heading back to the bank. After that she successfully completed 4 or 5 water retrieves swimming out and back with the bumper on all of them. It was definitely a puppy swim but I believe that she will level things out with time. Very glad to have this milestone behind me, and just a few days shy of her turning 6 months. not too bad i guess, I know most swim much earlier but still plenty of time until november.

bad news, waders sprung a leak so might as well just had my trunks on this morning. good thing the temps have been hitting 90 here the last couple of days. these things are going back, just got 1 season out of them with maybe 15 or so uses.
 

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I think i got lucky... i wasnt sure if Tucker would like the water and by accident i happen to throw a little stick in and sure enough he took off and got it. Now, he cannot get enough of it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
bdwilliams, just from my experience with my pup, guiding her in with the check cord was not really an option. I tried this on our 2nd trip out and seemed to make things worse. After this I made sure I went to a place I could let her run free and come in on her own terms. Until today after she was comfortable enough in the water I carried her on out to swimming depth, let her kick and splash a second then let her go. After doing this a couple times I threw a bumpers out and she went on out swimming without any more help.

this is my 1st lab, but just the sequence I went through to get her swimming. hopefully she will pick back up where we left off next time out.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
thanks, glad to see her hitting the water with enthusiasm now. hopefully going to be a fun road from here.
 

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Looks good....

BUT...

I'd loose that long line. Swimming and rope do NOT go together. Way to easy for a dog to get tangled up.

Keep up the good work.
 

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its a 6 ft rope/ leash with no knots or hand holds, that too long? just wondering
It is for me...and it don't look like the floating kind either.

He's thrashing with his front legs also...the odds are in his favor to get tangled.

Dog goes into water, gets bumper, turns and gets tangled in the rope that was dragging behind him... which he is now swimming into.

A collar tab 8 or 10 INCHES long is all I want on em while swimming.

I do use a rope occasionally in the water depending on the dog but play it out and reel it in with the dog.
 

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Was at the lake with my young lab a couple day a ago. He was retrieving in chest deep water. Actually bounding all the way there and back. I threw the dummy out past the drop off and he took off as usual, then disappeared in the deeper water for a couple of seconds. Came up looking like he wanted to get on top of the water, grabbed dummy and came back.
I next walked out to deeper water with him and he swam just fine, with no thrashing. Tossing the dummy a little ways away when he was swimming started the thrashing again. He just couldn't get to dummy fast enough. After a few more times he was swimming just fine. Must have figured out swimming correctly was faster.

They will figure it out eventually.
 
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