So I made the mistake (I found out later) of forcing 6-month-old Elphie into the lake even though she was terrified of it. I figured she'd get used to it. She didn't. Is this repairable, or is she doomed to forever hate water? I took her to the ocean today, and she was scared of the waves (just foot-deep), then seemed okay once they washed over here, then later got scared and tried to run out of the water. She's mixed with (we think) bull terrier, but she's so lab-like I figured she'd love the water. I also gave her her first bath today, and she cried the whole time.
I guess if she's always going to hate water, I don't want to force her, but we spend so much time at the lake every summer I'd hate for her to just spend the day home in the side yard. She used to be terrified of riding in the car, and now she loves it since I take her with me almost everywhere. Can she get used to being in water enough to enjoy it? When we went to the lake, she rode around in a little Walmart floatie.
Any positive thoughts are appreciated! Please don't hate on the fact I made a mistake in forcing her in as I already feel terrible about it
Maybe you should just keep exposing her to the water without forcing her to actually go in. Make fun games of fetching, etc and perhaps after exposure without forcing the issue will turn her around!
Maxx & Emma Jean
Ozzy - 10/16/02 - 06/28/11 - Always in my heart.
Sometimes the hardest part isn't letting go - but learning to start over.
if you can set up a play date with dogs she knows that love the water and show her it can be fun that would be idea. Otherwise let her explore on her own. you can encourage her by trowing a toy (start by throwing it just near the water, not all the way, when she is ok with that just a little bit in the water) or whatever she loves to chase. Get in the water and encourage her (never pulling or pushing her in, let her go on her own).
She can probably overcome this with time and patience and encouragement.
Charlie (foster) and Rocky
I agree with Tanya's suggestions. You definitely don't want to force her in. She may be a lab that is always tentative about the water and if that is the case, so be it. She can hang out on the beach at the water's edge if that is what she enjoys.
My yellow lab, Miles, loves the water. Can't keep him out of it. My step daughter's black lab doesn't care for it so much. He'll go in but only if he is hot and rarely out far enough to swim. We call him a cat in lab suit. That's just him and that can't be changed. Although he was sold to her with AKC papers, it was a backyard breeder and I don't think he really is all lab. (He also doesn't care to much for food)
Last edited by Milesmom; 06-21-2012 at 10:03 AM.
Ann & Miles
MACH ARCHEX "Miles" (DOB 3/10/2006) UD RAE MXS MJS OF CW-OB3 CW-ARF CW-AR CW-ZR2 CL-1 (DOB 3/10/2006)
"Hartley" (DOB 7/21/2012) RN CGC CW-OB1
Thanks for the info. Elphie also doesn't really retrieve, although she is learning. I think I might also try by giving her treats and praise, which I did during her bath. I'm definitely not goit to force her in again! Luckily, my husband prefers the shore, so he can stay with puppy while I swim around. Hey, maybe she'll even see me and think it might be fun. She was definitely missing me at the beach yesterday when I was in the water
My first Lab, Bess, was magnetically drawn to water from the time she was 5 months old and the surface ice was gone. She always tried to swim in any water she saw, whether it was safe or not -- sometimes a problem.
Puff is the opposite and did NOT want to swim. Several playdates with swimming Labs seemingly made no impression on her.
But for Puff, since wading in shallow water is okay, so, after teaching her to retrieve, I tied a 25 foot string to a training dummy we used for playing fetch and tossed it VERY gradually, progressively farther out in ponds. (That 25 foot long string helped me retrieve the dummy when I threw it too far and Puff wouldn't fetch it.)
I soon noticed that Puff had much less buoyancy than Bess had. When Bess swam, several inches of her back and the upper half of her tail plus all of her neck and head were above the water's surface. Not so with Puff; only her head and a bit of her neck was above the water's surface -- her back and tail were close but underneath its surface.
So I bought a Ruffwear canine flotation vest for her and put it on her whenever we were around water and practicing fetch as her kindergarten for swimming.
It took 3 or 4 months of daily practices to get Puff willing to fetch the training dummy by swimming at least 20 feet.
(For us, Puff's not swimming was not an option since she'd be with me on my sailboat.)
That was 10 years ago and, although we pass ponds on our daily 2 mile offleash walks in a nature preserve, and visit lakes all summer, I've never seen Puff spontaneously go in the water and swim. Wade and splash at the shore, occasionally -- but swim?--no.
Last edited by Bob Pr.; 06-21-2012 at 12:03 PM.
Puff [YF, AKC field line (from competing HT/FT breeder) 62 lbs, dob: 8-'01]
Bess [BF, AKC bench line (from competing show breeder) 55 lbs., 1967-1981] "Poor Bess, the Wonder Dog":
try different bodies of water. My Rocky wasn't much of a swimmer for the first years I had him (adopted at 18mts). But he started with ponds and streams (teh yucky water LOL). he'll now go in any body of water.
Charlie (foster) and Rocky
Ernies owners threw him in and he was scared at first. They kept going to the beach and the kids played with him. He is a Lab in a fishes coat now. If you cn find another dog that likes the water it might make a difference. Tess and Gems didn't go in the water until Erns started going in after his ball. Now they go in to get it off him.