Many people are curious can Shih Tzu swim? After all, these dogs have long, thick coats and bulky builds, making them seem like they might not be well-suited for swimming. However, the truth is that Shih Tzu can swim, and with some training and encouragement, they can even become strong and confident swimmers.
In this ultimate guide, we will explore everything you need to know about Shih Tzu and swimming, including whether or not they can swim, how to teach them to swim, and what precautions you should take to ensure their safety in the water.
Whether you are considering introducing your Shih Tzu to the pool or lake or want to know more about these charming little dogs, this guide has something for you.
Are Shih Tzus natural Swimmers?
While all dogs have some webbing between their toes, Shih Tzus have especially pronounced webbing that helps them to move more quickly through the water. However, this same webbing can also make it more difficult for them to keep their heads above water and can cause them to tire quickly when swimming. So, they have instincts but only stamina if they are taught to swim.
It is essential to closely supervise Shih Tzus around water and provide them with plenty of opportunities to rest and relax between swims. However, with some practice and patience, most Shih Tzus can learn to enjoy taking a dip on a hot day.
How to Teach a Shih Tzu to Swim?
Unlike some other dog breeds, Shih Tzus are not naturally inclined to swim. Most Shih Tzus have a strong aversion to water and will do everything possible to avoid getting wet. However, Shih Tzus can still learn to swim. A Shih Tzu generally takes a few swimming lessons to feel comfortable in the water. However, once they know how to swim, they can be proficient. Once your Shih Tzu is ready to swim, it will seek opportunities to dip.
The following steps can be helpful in teaching Shih Tzu swimming:
1. Get Your Shih Tzu Used to the Water
The first step in teaching your Shih Tzu to swim is to get them used to the water. Start by taking them for short walks near bodies of water, such as a lake or pond. You can begin letting them play in shallow water areas as they become more comfortable.
2. Introduce Them to Swimming Pools
Once your Shih Tzu is comfortable around water, you can introduce them to swimming pools. Let them walk around the pool area and get used to the environment. Then, you can help them into the water and let them paddle independently.
3. Use a Life Jacket
When first teaching your Shih Tzu to swim, it is important to use a life jacket. It will help them stay afloat and prevent them from getting tired too quickly. You can find life jackets specifically designed for dogs online or at most pet stores.
4. Help Them Into the Water
Once your Shih Tzu is comfortable with the pool environment, you can help them into the water. Start by holding them close to you and slowly lowering them into the water. Be sure to keep a firm grip on them at all times.
5. Let Them Paddle Around
Once they are in the water, let your Shih Tzu paddle around on their own. They may try to swim toward you, but be sure to keep them at a safe distance until they are comfortable swimming on their own.
6. Reward Them for Good Behavior
As your Shih Tzu becomes more comfortable swimming, reward them for good behavior. It could include treats or verbal praise that will help reinforce positive behavior and make learning more enjoyable for both of you.
7. Don’t Force Them Into the Water
If your Shih Tzu seems uncomfortable or scared at any point, do not force them into the water. It could cause undue stress and make it more difficult for them to learn how to swim. Instead, take a break and try another day again.
Safety Tips for Shih Tzus Around Water
Shih Tzus are small, fragile dogs that can be easily injured. As a result, it’s essential to take precautions when around water. It’s often assumed that all dogs can swim, but this is not true with Shih Tzu. While they may enjoy paddling in shallow water, they can quickly tire and sink.
For this reason, it’s crucial always to supervise Shih Tzu around water and never allow them to swim unsupervised. Following are the safety tips when your Shih Tzu is around water for swimming classes:
1. Avoid Deep Water
One of the most important safety tips for Shih Tzu around water is to avoid deep water. While Shih Tzus can be good swimmers, they can tire quickly and may not be able to make it back to shore if they get too far out. For this reason, it’s essential only to let your Shih Tzu play in shallow water where they can touch the bottom.
2. Don’t forget the Life Jacket
Another safety tip for Shih Tzu around water is to use a life jacket. Life jackets provide extra buoyancy and help keep your dog afloat if they tire or fall into deep water. Be sure to choose a life jacket that fits properly and is rated for your dog’s weight.
3. Stay Close By
When your Shih Tzu is near water, it’s important to stay close in case they need help. It means keeping them on a leash or in a fenced area so that you can quickly reach them if necessary. It’s also a good idea to keep an eye on them at all times so that you can spot any signs of trouble.
4. Supervise at All Times
It’s important to supervise your Shih Tzu around water at all times, even if they are wearing a life jacket. This way, you can be sure they are safe and can intervene if necessary. Never leave your dog unattended near water, even for a short period.
5. Teach Them to Exit the Pool Safely
If you have a pool in your backyard, teaching your Shih Tzu how to exit the pool safely is important. Show them where the steps or ladder are located and how to use them, so they can go independently if necessary.
6. Be Careful Around Natural bodies of Water
Natural bodies of water such as lakes, rivers, and oceans can present additional dangers for Shih Tzu. There may be strong currents, waves, or undertows that could pull your dog away from shore. Additionally, there may be wildlife in the area that could pose a threat to your dog. For these reasons, it’s essential to exercise caution when letting your Shih Tzu near natural bodies of water.
7. Avoid Hot Pavement
Hot pavement is another hazard to watch out for when taking your Shih Tzu for a walk near the water. The pavement can become extremely hot during summer, making it painful for your dog to walk barefoot. Be sure to carry or walk them on a leash until you reach the more excellent ground.
You may also like: 20 Things Shih Tzus Love To Do: Benefits May Surprise You
While some owners choose not to allow their Shih Tzu around water or think that they can never learn how to swim, the truth is that with proper instruction and a safe environment, your Shih Tzu could enjoy going for a swim just as much as any other dog breed. If you decide that you would like to teach your Shih Tzu how to swim, always be sure to do so in a safe area with shallow water and close supervision. It generally only takes a few short swimming lessons before most Shih Tzus are confident and happy swimmers – but of course, every dog is different.