Are Dogs Natural Swimmers? Callie learns to swim (again!)

I would have thought that dogs were natural swimmers. That teaching a dog to swim would be like teaching a bird to fly. But not quite so. Apparently some dogs do need a little encouragement and training. Last summer, when Callie was five months old, she started learning to swim in Lake Arrowhead. It didn't come all at once, as she had to overcome some fear of the small waves lapping at the shoreline. And she was apprehensive about getting into water over her head. But finally, with a little coaxing, she worked through it and became an "adequate" swimmer. We kept her on a long leash, though, because we didn't want to risk her swimming out into the main part of the lake, where there can be a lot of boat traffic. Here's some video of Callie swimming last summer, after she overcame her initial fears: It's spring at Lake Arrowhead, so we decided the water was warm enough to take Callie swimming for the first time this year. Again we kept her on her leash, not because there's so much boat traffic this time of year, but we don't quite trust her to "come" when we call her yet. But Callie had to work through her little fears all over again. There's a very nice stone stairway that lets her walk right into the water. She took the first few steps, and she obviously wanted to retrieve the small pine stick I had tossed into the water. But she did not jump in (as I had thought she might). She didn't even walk in. It was as if she forgot everything she learned last summer, including how much fun it can be to swim. She kept shying away from the water -- wanting to dive forward, but then pulling back. Finally -- again with a little encouragement -- she took a few dog-paddles and then she leveled out her sleek Golden Retriever body and swam like a Golden Retriever should swim. Very graceful and confident in the water. So Callie had to work through her fears all over again, but she did it, and, when it was time to go, of course, she wanted to stay and swim! Here are two good articles about teaching your dog to swim: How to Teach Your Dog to Swim - Part 1 - Catherine Forsythe at Lockergnome.com. Teaching Puppies to Swim, Butch Goodwin, northernflight.com. Dogs love to swim and play in the water, but some of them need help. It's a great gift to give your dog, though, and it will be eternally grateful.