Now that the heat of summer has arrived wouldn’t a trip to the dog beach be just the ticket? While no doubt a great way to provide fitness and fun for your water-loving grey ghost it often proves difficult to keep your own cool at a typical busy dog beach. There are bound to be lots of unruly and annoying dogs around that gleefully thieve all the other dogs’ toys and run off to drop their plunder randomly or worse, are nigh impossible to get the stolen toy back from.
Luckily, there is a training tip that can help you and your grey buddy survive dog beach chaos this summer – the SWIM command. The idea for teaching dogs to swim on command is borrowed directly from the retriever trainer world, the innovation is this simple, quick method to accomplish the task.
The method works is because even if your dog only has a small swimming head start out towards his or her toy, other dogs will recognize that they have no chance of getting to the toy first and so rarely compete for it. Or even if they did, they simply cannot overcome the lead your dog has, and so they give up, leaving your dog all alone to happily enjoy his or her toy and the water and you not having the tedious and irritating job of stolen toy recovery.
Here’s how to train your dog to swim on command.
- a handful of small rocks
- your dog’s toy
- some treats
- a piece of waterfront that is free of bad acting dog beach dogs
- Near the water’s edge, and facing the water, hold your dog by the collar with your left hand. Hold a rock and your dog’s toy in your right hand.
- Get your dog excited about going towards the water and release him.
- Your dog will take a step or two towards the water, and it is during those first two steps while your dog is still facing the water and still moving forward towards the water, that you will throw a small rock out into the water.
- The rock needs to be thrown straight out ahead of the dog about 6’ into the water.
- The rock will act as a bridge to encourage your dog to keep moving forward and looking forward even though you haven’t yet thrown the toy.
- Before your dog gets to where the rock landed in the water, throw your dog’s toy directly out, just ahead of your dog. NOTE: If your dog stops or looks back you have waited too long to throw either the rock or the toy.
- After a few practice sessions your dog will begin to trust that the toy will be thrown out ahead and so will be moving with confidence into the water, and you can begin to throw the toy out further ahead of your dog.
- At this point I add the swim command to start the drill.
- If the water depth increases very gradually, this may require tossing a second or even a third rock out to continue to encourage your dog — with the toy only being tossed out when the dog’s feet have left the ground and he or she is swimming.
- After a few more practice sessions I consistently wait to throw the toy until the dogs feet have left the ground.
- After a few more sessions you will be able to dispense with the rock throwing.
BONUS: If you are a duck hunter the skill of being able to swim on command is invaluable for the common occurrence of the dog’s view of the downed duck being screened by cover.
A trained Swim command not only prevents a fracas but is an ideal beach strategy for any Weimaraner that will acquiesce their toy to challengers – they are a winner every time!
This is what the finished product looks like – two of the black dogs in the video were ferocious toy stealers so you can see the effectiveness of this training tip.