Does anyone else here have a lab (cocoa is 9mnths) who is afraid of water? now I know that they are water dogs and are suppose to loveeeeeee the water, but my lab won't even go in the water. We have given her lots of oppurtunities ie:wading pool, lake,pond ect, she doesnt even like it when I have the hose out playing with my son or watering flowers. Now my neighbors lab cross can live in the water, that crazy dog chases my neighbor when she has the hose out, my dog hides! as far as I know she hasn't had a bad experance, she just doesn't like it! Is she defective..lol any suggestions?
It happens. Sometimes if they aren't exposed to something new before the 6 month they might be hesitant of it. You could try taking her to a lake with other dogs. We have done this in our play group with puppies. They see the other dogs are having so much fun their need to join in overcomes their fear. Also try it in a lake where they can wade in rather than have to swim right away like in a pool.
Have you tried throwing toys into the water for her to retrieve? what about letting her play with other dogs near water? heck, YOU could even get in the water to see if she takes the plunge.
All you need to do is get her swimming once. Just once. Then that fear barrier should go away. Of course, it may be the fact that she just really hates water but that is pretty unlikely...she is a Labrador after all. I think with most Labs that fear water it is the fear of the unknown...once they actually get in there and realise they CAN swim there is no stopping them.
As for the hose, not all dogs like it. Mine hate the hose yet they love swimming. Swimming in a lake or a pond or something is way different from getting squirted by water from a hose. Mine hate bathes, too. Again, a bath can't really be compared to doing something fun like retrieving from a lake.
I think Bob Pr. has some good suggestions for helping dogs to swim. You might want to PM him if he doesn't see this.
Funny you should say that. My last lab ZuZu, was scared of the water untill I carried her out and drop her in. After that, I could keep her out of the water.
If you can invite dog friends over who enjoy water, that will help.
If she has a strong chase or retrieve urge, throw her toys by the water's edge. Once she is jumping on them with no problem, toss them a bit into the water, half a foot at a time. She'll enjoy the splashing and get the picture soon enough.
I live on a lake and my dogs go down to the water every morning. Some of my puppies go in the water readily at 8 weeks, and others it takes much longer. Aaron was 6 months before he decided to go in after the others.
They will go at their own pace...don't rush them.
To err is human:To forgive, canine."
Don't force it like dropping her in water...that usually backfires on a dog. My neihgbor's lab didn't care for water too much either until he met Rider...then he would start going in after Rider and would start retrieving too. Now, he is so excited to go swimming. He still doesn't haul butt to get into the water, but he does water retrieve like a fool.
Dani, Rider & Rookie
SHR Watson's Safari Rider, JH, WC, CL1-R, RA, CGC, TDI
SHR Endeavor Put Me In Coach, RN, WC, CGC
Member Since 6/2003
Try getting in the water with her, or get in first and see if she will come out to you...start where its real shallow,then gradually go out further maybe dont try it all in one day either just start shallow where she can still walk.
Thanks for all the suggestions, I think we will try going with some friends, She loves to be around other dogs and that may do the trick. I did try throwing in her toy and she just looked at me and then whined until I had to wade in and get it for her...some guys on the shore mentioned that I was a getting to be a good retriever ! :P What a compliment !
I think she will love it when she finally goes in, I just need to convince her of that.....
My first Lab, my beloved Bess [BF, AKC bench line (competitive breeder), 55 lbs., 1967-81] never saw a body of water she didn't want to swim in -- sometimes a serious problem. Bess swam spontaneously at about 4 months age and enjoyed swimming all her life.
My Puff [YF, AKC field line (competitive breeder), 63 lbs., DOB: 8-'01] learned swimming with great difficulty.
I've heard -- and am sure it's true for many or most Labs -- that getting your pup at a swimming hole around other Labs that love to swim AND/OR getting in the water (say up to your ankles, calves, or knees, whatever works)* and calling to her works for many or most.*
We tried both and neither worked for my Puff.*
Part of our difficulty was that Puff was not that interested in retrieving and I had to first teach that and we began at about 3-4 months.
I tied a strong 30 ft. kite string to a favorite toy (a small rubber dumb-bell), got her interested in getting it and then tossed it 20 ft. away (holding my end of the string).* *When Puff went after it, I could pull her AND the toy back to me.
We practiced 3X a day, just before meals, so I could use a few bits of kibble as reward.
When Puff and her toy came back (towed or spontaneously) I gave a lot of excited praise and exchanged a few kibbles for her toy.
At any age, you must keep it fun.* If your Lab loses interest after 4 retrieves, drop down to 3 -- if after 3, drop down to 2, etc.
Once she learned to retrieve on land (be sure to vary where you practice and the direction you throw the toy) we moved to a pond with the toy and string.
My Puff was not as averse to water as it sounds your Lab may be.* Puff reminded me of 5-7 year old boys, loving to repeatedly splash through puddles.
She was okay with retrieving from water -- just as long as it wasn't too much over 6" deep.
[NOTE: using an object on a retrieving string is even more useful when teaching a Lab to swim UNLESS you really like swimming and wading yourself.* For water, we used a floating Training Dummy -- vinyl, Lucky Dog brand, 2" x 12"; see http://www.gundogsupply.com or other online stores.]
Gradually, we extended out the depth into which I threw the toy.*
It quickly became apparent that Puff did not natively know how to swim.* She frantically dog-paddled with her front feet to keep her head from drowning while her back legs did little or nothing.* She had a vertical posture in the water and her vigorous thrashing of the water with her front feet created a geyser that pushed away the TD as she got near it.
I bought a canine Personal Flotation Device ("RuffWear" brand) and that levelled out Puff's body in the water and she began learning to use her back legs.
I very gradually increased the distances she had to swim from just a few strokes to more.
That first sumer, when she was 9-14 months old, we practiced swimming every day and frequently twice a day.
I used the same techniques we'd used for teaching beginning retrieving on land.* I tried to be sensitive enough to not make it too much work but keep it at least a little but fun.
After Puff learned to swim horizontally and use her back legs, she could swim without her life jacket on, probably when she was about a year old.*
We went most every day the next several summers.
I don't think Puff is a very good swimmer.* For one thing, she has a lean field-line Lab build with almost no fat so she has very little buoyancy.* When Puff swims, her tail is below water, her back -- up to her neck -- is just at the surface or a little below.* Usually, it's just her neck and head that's visible above surface.
By contrast, my Bess's entire back was clearly above water and the upper half of her tail distinctly seen at the surface.
Hope this helps.
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":
Thank you for the advice. I am sure she sounds more like puff, she is a tiny lab and slight build. She really has no interest in the water, so i will try the dog play date a few times and if that doesn't work we will work on retrieving again. I think she would be perfectly happy being a landlover, we are more worried about it than she is!