Siberian huskies are known to love living in snow or cold environments.
There is a common word among many that huskies, along with Eskimo dogs and Alaskan malamutes, don’t enjoy the water.
Plenty of queries may pop up in your head, like “Do huskies swim?” or “Do Siberian huskies like water?” and so on.
If your thoughts are running around these lines, then you have come to the perfect spot.
We will explain to you if huskies can swim, the benefits of husky swimming, how to teach them to swim, and other helpful info.
So if you’re a husky owner or dog trainer, hop on and keep reading further.
Huskies And Their Preference For Water
Let’s get this straight. Most huskies hate water. They were initially bred to pull sleds and hardly needed to swim.
A husky, in general, is not the most confident swimmer. But do not get disheartened. Their preference for water is subjective at the end of the day.
If they are introduced to water properly, their attitude towards swimming can change for the better.
Reasons Why Huskies Hate Water
We have received queries from many husky owners, “Why does my dog dislike water so much?”
Here are some of the common reasons why.
Poor First Impression
Huskies are intelligent creatures. Unpleasant memories stick on with them for long periods. The way they were introduced to water for the first time may have gone badly.
So if they slipped into a swimming pool during a young age, or if your husky was in a bad mood at the time, that hurtful memory may linger on into adulthood.
Hate To Get Wet
Some huskies hate the concept of getting wet and dirty. This aspect repels them from water and wet areas. This attitude can change once they learn to swim.
Beyond The Comfort Zone
Huskies feel uncomfortable with water merely because they are not used to swimming. This situation is quite normal, just like in the case of humans.
You, as an owner, can change that by making them learn to swim. Perseverance and the right process are the key points to follow.
A husky’s instincts can be an issue here as they were originally raised as sled dogs who pull sleighs and herding dogs who direct flocks of sheep on farms.
Also, a majority of the huskies may be cross-bred. They may not be a pure husky breed.
This makes it more difficult to assess if they will enjoy swimming/water or not.
Can Huskies Learn Swimming?
Of course, they can
They have the added advantage of keeping the buoyant body while in the water.
Having said this, never throw them into the water on day one.
You need to follow a systematic procedure to make them comfortable with water and master swimming gradually.
Benefits Of Teaching Huskies To Swim
Although making huskies expert swimmers could take time and effort, the benefits associated with swimming are plenty.
Swimming is a superb workout for your dog. There is not much tearing of bones and joints involved, and it will burn calories well. A brisk swim of half an hour is a killer exercise compared to a walk or jog for the same duration.
The chances of injuries are minor, especially on the joints. To top it off, you can even involve your buddy in water sports like polo. It is a fun activity for the whole family. Not only for the dog.
Cooling Down Body Temperature
Huskies are designed to thrive in colder climates. If you happen to reside in warm or humid areas, that can take a physical toll on a furry dog with a double coat, such as a Siberian husky.
A good session of swimming can bring down their body temperatures and make them feel at ease. This can be beneficial for their skin and general health.
Mode Of Staying Engaged
Husky unattended can get agitated and sad when alone for prolonged periods. Swimming can be a good distraction and a fun-filled activity that mentally stimulates them too. Boredom, sadness, depression, weight gain, etc., are all eliminated with regular swimming sessions.
Now that we know some of the significant benefits of teaching your husky to swim let’s get to the core topic at hand.
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How To Teach Your Husky To Swim
With consistent effort and patience, huskies can learn to swim and love water. This section will deep dive into each step needed to make your canine buddies capable swimmers.
No matter how little the progress is, dogs respond strongly to praise. So the next time your husky even puts a toe in the water, give them some comforting words or tasty treats. Repeat this process till they are expert swimmers.
This method may take time, but it never fails to give better results. If your husky puppy is not a lover of water initially, you can start using your bathtub as a first step. Alternatively, clickers can also be used along with snacks.
Playing Fetch In Water
Throw something into the water that they can retrieve easily. A stick or a floating toy or ball works fine. If they’re unwilling to play fetch, you can up the stakes by throwing a toy filled with their favorite treats.
This should catch their attention and desire to make a jump.
Apply Some Peer Pressure
Take them to the kiddie pool with another husky puppy that loves water. Seeing their peers enjoying being in the water, they will feel the need to join the other dogs.
This method has more chance of succeeding if done at a younger age. So take your husky to the pool with other pups during the puppy phase itself.
Lead From The Front
Huskies, like most other dog breeds, trust their owner more than anyone else. So be an example and jump into the pool and then ask them to join.
Here also, use positive reinforcement to encourage them to go deeper into the pool. With time, they will swim without your presence in the water.
A point to keep in mind is never to use brute force or pull them into the water. This action can lead to damaging the progress made so far. Get into the water yourself and then motivate them to do so.
Avoid Unwanted Force
The experience itself can be a stressful one for huskies. Do not make it even more traumatic for them by using brute force, swear words or other forms of violence.
They don’t have a natural or inherent love for the water. So let them take their own sweet time and get accustomed to the water.
End On A High
Ensure to end the session on a positive note so that you’re husky is willing for another session the next time. This aspect is crucial in the first few sessions.
If the memory of the previous session is positive, the husky starts to yearn for more of such sessions. This makes the whole training session smooth for you as an owner or trainer. Having a gaming session or a quick bite is a good tactic to make them feel comfy and relaxed.
Give Them Support
Huskies are not the master swimmers among the dog breeds. Help them stay afloat in the paddling pool by holding their belly while they start swimming. This will help them to doggy paddle properly.
Giving them physical support will not only improve their swimming but also boost their morale and self-confidence. They will also feel safe and secure knowing that you are close by, especially during the learning curve.
In addition, making them wear life vests can also be helpful. This accessory will make them feel protected while they are newbie swimmers.
Ensure that the jacket is worn correctly. Otherwise, it may give undesirable results. There are a few things to consider while using a life vest:
Pick the right size that fits your dog perfectly. Getting one that is too loose or too tight can defeat the purpose.
Start using the life jacket from the initiation phase of the training. The earlier, the better.
If they have already been exposed to water a lot (beaches/swimming pools etc.), making them wear a life jacket suddenly can startle them. We suggest introducing the life jacket gently and slowly.
From our experience, taking the Huskies to a beach before the pool is a better option. Beaches provide the chance to move back onto the land quickly if there is an immediate discomfort.
Things To Consider While Training Your Husky
Before you embark upon making your husky swim, there are a few pointers to keep in mind. We will list the primary ones in this section, as follows:
Be well informed of your husky’s temperament. However, the same breed, not all huskies behave the same when it comes to interaction with water. Some are proactive with athletic limbs and enthusiastic, while others are shy and fearful.
The age of your dog is also a crucial factor to think about. Younger huskies are more open to newer environments and learnings compared to a fully grown adult dog.
It always helps to devise a training plan beforehand. You can note down their progress and plan the subsequent sessions and their intensities accordingly.
Take care to ensure that your dog is well hydrated before and after the training sessions. Apart from the energy usage during the swimming process, they will swallow salt water too. Both these aspects will make them dehydrated.
Check the water temperature before you let them in. Freezing cold weather can affect their health, even with their furry exterior. It takes time for them to dry as well. It is always a safer option to teach them to swim during the hot weather.
Familiarize them with the exit point of a pool. They must get out of the water quickly if they get panicked or stressed out.
During the entire training phase, human supervision is a mandatory requirement. They are not good swimmers in general. The last thing you desire is to get them hurt, especially if there are strong currents in the water or if the depth is pretty significant.
Do not overdo the training. Keep it to brief stints of 25-30 mins. If they are showing signs of fatigue, stop the exercise right away.
After they are out of the water, dry them thoroughly using a soft and thick towel. This measure will help remove any salts or chemicals deposited on their skin surface to cause rashes or irritations potentially. They will also feel warm and devoid of hot spots.
Never miss out on seeking a medical professional’s or dog trainer’s guidance before and during the training phase. Having the optimum body vitals is necessary for the dog to have a safe and healthy swimming experience. Swimming is after a physically exhausting workout activity.
Huskies learn to swim better around other dogs. They have this genetic makeup that makes them perform better when in a pack. Being traditionally sled dogs, they copy what other dogs are doing. Apply this same logic while taking them out to teach swimming.
Try to keep the energies high and positive in the session. They can sense that, and it will accelerate the learning process.
Beaches are a great spot to find other dogs. Learning becomes fun and social for them at a popular beach location. We will discuss more as to why beaches are better in the following subsection.
Dog parks with small pools or water streams are also good to interact with other dogs while learning this new skill.
Try registering on online communities like Meetup. Here plenty of users/other husky owners with pets and similar interests can communicate with one another. You can even have a joint swimming session with the dogs to make things fun and effective. Swim dates are the way to go!
The husky in our dog training center, Honey, was wailing initially at the sight of water during her initial training phases. Her entire body would shiver when we tried to put her toes in the water.
We thought of a tactic that involved making her watch the beach from the sidelines while other dogs enjoyed the water. This sight altered her perspective on water considerably.
In addition, our weekly trips to the local beach, where she interacted with several other dogs, made progress smoother. Within seven weeks, she left all her fears of water behind and can now dive straight into our swimming pool like a champ.
Just like Honey, you could make your husky the next pro swimmer with a bit of planning and channelized effort.
Why Beaches Are Better To Learn Swimming
Compared to the swimming pool, beaches offer some distinct advantages such as the following.
Your dog does not need to jump right in, as in the case of a pool. They can gradually wet their feet and withdraw whenever they feel like it. A pool can look more intimidating at first compared to the beach and its gradual slope that has a shallow end.
Ease of Running In Water
Unlike a pool where your dog needs to remain afloat, the beach allows them to ease into the water by running across the shoreline.
Beaches are more accessible to the public. Other dog owners often visit beaches for a quick dive or a swim. The husky sees this scene, and it makes swimming easier for the dog to watch the other pups and make a move.
Scope For Plan B
In case your dog is not in the mood for a swim, there are other alternative activities you can try out at the beach. A run, a session of frisbee, or just lying on the sand with some beers is on the cards. Sounds interesting?
Every husky and their attitude towards swimming can be different. As responsible dog owners, understand your dog’s temperament and attitude towards water. Once that part is taken care of, ensure their initial interactions are positive and joyful.
Nothing accelerates a dog’s learning process like positive reinforcements. Make the experience rewarding for them by giving them their favorite snacks and praising words while showing signs of progress. Teaching them with force or violence can only worsen the process and damage any progress made.
Ensure to take your dog to a licensed veterinarian for periodic checkups and pet medical advice to ensure that all body vitals are intact. You do not want them to suffer fatigues or panic attacks due to a traumatic experience.
Swimming at public spots like beaches can be an enriching experience for both your husky and yourself. Peer socialization and learning can improve the quality of your training sessions and make the learning experience smoother for the dog.
We hope our article was a helpful resource and gave you some valuable info regarding teaching huskies to swim. We recommend you stringently follow the expert guidelines provided so that the overall training process turns out to be a fruitful and enjoyable one.