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Author Topic: Lab Afraid of Water  (Read 1819 times)

Offline havershap

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Lab Afraid of Water
« on: April 30, 2023, 04:27:42 PM »
I have a friend (I know that reads like a cliche from a sitcom but it's true) who is training a lab to hunt.  The dog is about 18 months old and is a washout from a service dog training school.  The dog is afraid of the water and won't go in past the point where her chest gets wet.  Today we tried letting her watch my lab make water retrieves but it didn't solve the problem.  It seemed to make her want to go, and she did get a little deeper than she had before, but she still wouldn't go in to the point of swimming.  We also tried sending my dog to retrieve the other dog's toys.  No luck.  So I'm looking for suggestions.  Thanks in advance for any advice.

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Re: Lab Afraid of Water
« Reply #1 on: April 30, 2023, 05:04:34 PM »
Play fetch with her near the water. Start occasionally tossing it into the edges of the water. Gradually work it deeper, staying shallow where she’s comfortable & the occasional toss just a little bit deeper.  Gradually work deeper until she’s is swimming to get it. It’ll most likely take several sessions.

Offline 509

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Re: Lab Afraid of Water
« Reply #2 on: April 30, 2023, 05:29:46 PM »
I hate to say it, because it is NOT politically correct, but I had the same issue with my French Girl that was almost TWO.

Finally, I had enough and took her to a boat launch, walked off to the end of the dock, and with a very long leash on threw her into the water.  Gave her a treat when she got back to land and then repeated.

Yeah, she can swim.  Better than any Lab or German Longhair Pointer that I have had as a hunting partner.

She is just a cautious dog.  Doesn't realize how good she is and is afraid to try.

Coaxing doesn't work all the time.  BUT I seriously doubt your lab will drown.  BUT stay with it when the lab starts swimming, lots of treats and praise.

Offline carlyoungs

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Re: Lab Afraid of Water
« Reply #3 on: April 30, 2023, 05:54:08 PM »
My lab would do the same thing. Loved the water but wouldn't actually swim. We had a camping trip at Lake Chelan. I pulled over on the side of the road and had him follow me. I jumped in the water and started swimming. He jumped in right after I did and hasn't looked back. I can't keep him out of the water anywhere we go. I had heard from different people to actually go in the water with the dog to get them comfortable . It actually worked and it was only one try.

Offline huntnfmly

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Re: Lab Afraid of Water
« Reply #4 on: April 30, 2023, 06:53:37 PM »
I just took my French Brittany yesterday to the lake he always liked getting Into the river but not past where he could feel bottom

Put on some rubber boots and wade in and like said before play fetch and slowly toss a couple just a little deeper
I did that with my Brittany and he did swim a few times to retrieve then we stopped
Going again next weekend
He’s 2 by the way
good luck and keep after it she’ll get it
Never throw them off a dock
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Offline Bullkllr

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Re: Lab Afraid of Water
« Reply #5 on: April 30, 2023, 07:01:57 PM »
Sounds like a case for gradual positive work.A bit more at a time and eventually he won't even remember it being a thing.
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Re: Lab Afraid of Water
« Reply #6 on: April 30, 2023, 07:28:47 PM »
My last lab Maggie wouldn’t swim when she was a puppy. A couple times waders were helpful when she wouldn’t fetch the dummy. Once she did it the first time, though, it was tough to keep her away from water the rest of her life.

Offline GWP

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Re: Lab Afraid of Water
« Reply #7 on: April 30, 2023, 08:24:15 PM »
My lab would do the same thing. Loved the water but wouldn't actually swim. We had a camping trip at Lake Chelan. I pulled over on the side of the road and had him follow me. I jumped in the water and started swimming. He jumped in right after I did and hasn't looked back. I can't keep him out of the water anywhere we go. I had heard from different people to actually go in the water with the dog to get them comfortable . It actually worked and it was only one try.

Did that with one of mine as well. Only took once.
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Online Westside88

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Re: Lab Afraid of Water
« Reply #8 on: April 30, 2023, 08:39:15 PM »
My lab would do the same thing. Loved the water but wouldn't actually swim. We had a camping trip at Lake Chelan. I pulled over on the side of the road and had him follow me. I jumped in the water and started swimming. He jumped in right after I did and hasn't looked back. I can't keep him out of the water anywhere we go. I had heard from different people to actually go in the water with the dog to get them comfortable . It actually worked and it was only one try.


I had the same experience. Couldn’t get her to go in past chest deep. We went to the river on a hot day. I jumped in, she swam out to me and she was instantly a water dog.

Offline Fidelk

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Re: Lab Afraid of Water
« Reply #9 on: May 01, 2023, 07:22:15 AM »
Never had a Lab or other breed of water dog. Tossed my Rottweiler in a couple times.......swam just fine. BTW, I spent two years in Goose Bay, LABRADOR and never saw a single Lab.

Offline Macs B

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Re: Lab Afraid of Water
« Reply #10 on: May 01, 2023, 07:24:21 AM »
I always took water shy dogs to a pond or lake that had a nice smooth transition from bank to bottom and simply walked into the water.  The dog will typically follow without hesitation. 
I usually delete my posts after two days.

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Offline MeepDog

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Re: Lab Afraid of Water
« Reply #11 on: May 01, 2023, 09:41:34 AM »
My lab was terrified of swimming. He straight up wouldn't do it. The remedy was to put a leash on him and take him swimming. Get in the water with him (not this time of year) and show him that you are enjoying it and are comfortable. Encouraging words and then after you've swam with him, try water retrieves while you're in there with him. It really changed his outlook on water. Don't throw him in like others have said.

Offline Stein

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Re: Lab Afraid of Water
« Reply #12 on: May 01, 2023, 09:49:11 AM »
I think it'll just take some more time, 18 months is pretty old to have never been in water.  Keep trying with the balls and following you, I bet there is a 99.9% chance it'll just happen one time like no big deal.  Just keep trying and keep it fun, I wouldn't toss them in.

Offline vandeman17

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Re: Lab Afraid of Water
« Reply #13 on: May 01, 2023, 09:54:14 AM »
If it was me, and also based on what my uncle always said who trained hunting dogs for years, is to never force a lab to swim by tossing them in. You want to make the activity something fun and exciting for them and not leave them with a feeling of a punishment. I believe ALL labs CAN swim, but its just that some don't love it like most do. I have one lab that is an amazing swimmer when she swims but much prefers just to go in the water up to her chest and play in it that way. To each their own  :twocents:
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