Can Australian Shepherds Swim? The Complete Australian Shepherd Swimming Guide

Swimming is probably one of the best form of active activity for a pet. Better than jogging because it doesn‘t strain the joints, but the muscles work intensely. Swimming can be not only a pleasant summer activity, but also a way to regulate the pet‘s weight, strengthen the body, recover from injuries and diseases. However, not all dogs jump in the water immediately, especially if it‘s their first time.

So, can Australian Shepherds swim? Do they like water or not? Every dog, same as human, is individual and has its own character and attitude towards everything. Some Australian Shepherds will jump into water whenever there is an opportunity and others might need an encouragement. We all know that Australian Shepherds are active dogs, therefore with proper familiarization with the water and how to swim, it can become a great workout and an active way to spend time.

After researching and asking other Australian Shepherd owners, we noticed that introduction with water and whether your Australian Shepherd likes to swim, in most cases plays a major role. In this article we will share the benefits of swimming, how to introduce Australian Shepherd with water and swimming.

Does Australian Shepherd Like To Swim?

Probably a lot of people would assume that Australian Shepherds would jump into water whenever there is an opportunity, as they are very active and love physical exercises. However, the situation with water and swimming is slightly different. Australian Shepherds was developed to herd livestock for farmers, therefore swimming is not their natural activity. There are other breeds that have the natural ability to swim better.

Similar to humans, every dog is different and have different hobbies. Same with Australian Shepherds, some will not miss the opportunity to jump into the water, and some will try to avoid that. In most cases, they just need the right incentives. So, once you teach them how to swim and enjoy the water, most likely this will become one of his favorite activities.

Why You Should Teach Your Australian Shepherd to Swim

Swimming is probably the best form of active activity for a pet. Better than jogging because it doesn‘t strain the joints, but muscles work intensely. A short play and a swim in water burns more calories than a long walk. It is believed that, 5 minutes of swimming equals 5 miles of running.

Swimming is also the best way to lose weight if your Australian Shepherd is overweight. As overweight dogs should avoid intense activities due to excessive load on the bones and joints. Regular swimming strengthens the dog‘s musculoskeletal system, develops the chest and restores the respiratory system, and with proper technique, swimming involves all muscle groups, evenly loading and toning them.

Swimming is recommended for proper care of dogs with hip or elbow dysplasia as this is great form of rehabilitation. Also suitable in case of cruciate ligament rupture, degenerative myelopathy, arthritis, paralysis, elderly dogs, dogs with various movement disorders, postoperative, obese dogs to strengthen the dog‘s balance and coordination.

Movement in the water does not cause pain because the weight of the animal does not burden the joints. In water, the joints are subjected to 15-20 times less load. There is a wide range of movements possible in the water, activities that would not be possible on land, and there is almost no possibility of injury. Another great advantage of this activity is the development of endurance and self-confidence. The variety of time spent walking along also develops the pet‘s intelligence and resilience to stress.

When to Start Training an Australian Shepherd to Swim

You need to get your Australian Shepherd used to the water from an early age. But no earlier than 3 months puppy – only after all the vaccinations have been done and when there will be a season to get to the pond.

Only healthy and vaccinated dogs should be allowed to swim, without any skin damage. Recently recovered dogs are advised to refrain from bathing, as even the slightest cold will weaken the immune system, as well as pregnant dogs. Swimming can be taught by the owner or the trainer. It is important for the owner to understand that the result requires constant and systematic work. Therefore, patience will be required in this situation.

How To Teach Your Australian Shepherd to Swim

First, you need to choose the right place before your Australian Shepherd‘s first swim. It must be clean water and the shore should have a smooth landing. Once you find suitable place, here are 4 steps which you must follow:

  1. Start best by taking a walk along the shore of the lake or another pond that you chosen. Observe your dog and assess his interest in the water. Basically, every dog loves water, even one who was not born a swimmer. But if a dog is brought to a water for the first time, there is always a small chance that he will be afraid to enter it.

Many dogs who are afraid to enter the water actually want to do so. They wander on the shore, barely wet their paws, barking at the owner and wagging their tails, behaving excitingly and playfully. If a dog shows interest in water, tries to drink, or even comes in for a short time – encourage him to taste it and show that you like it.

2. The next step is to enter the water near the shore and invite the dog. If your Aussie comes to you, praise him again. If the dog is afraid does not dare to enter the water, encourage him, lure him with a treat or a toy. Never force your Australian Shepherd into the water.

If you have a friend who‘s dog is confident with water and loves to swim – invite him for a walk. Fun company and another dog‘s self-confidence works best.

3. Take your time! Understandably, you want to get your Australian Shepherd used to swimming as soon as possible, but you really shouldn‘t rush. Maybe for the first time, the dog won‘t even want to go deep into the water, so don‘t force him to do so.

Exercising by swimming in water should be repeated as often as possible, and you will really quickly notice that the dog wants to wade further. It is likely that at first the dog will swim just a few tens of centimeters, and then he returns to shore. Over time, he will become more and more accustomed to water.

4. Sometimes toys can help if you want your dog to jump into the water. Some dogs love toys, so floating toys can really help when getting used to water. Of course, you should not throw them too far – until the dog is accustomed to the water, you may need to pick up a toy yourself.

Things Not to Do When Teaching Your Australian Shepherd to Swim

How to prepare Australian Shepherd for swimming is equally important to some things that you should not be doing. Here are a few:

  • Do not leave the dog unattended. You must watch closely the dog when they are swimming as dogs may also drown.
  • Do not push a dog from a boat, raft or diving bridge, if he don‘t know how to swim.
  • Do not let him jump into the water in a place crowded with people, boats or around fishing equipment.
  • Always make sure the coast is clean and safe, or the water itself is suitable.
  • Do not allow the dog to bathe in high waves or during windy day.
  • Do not bring your dog to the water if he has skin diseases, wounds or if he is healing after some diseases at the moment.
  • Do not let your Australian Shepherd get too tired. Sometimes it is better to throw the toy into the water couple times, it is not necessary to tire the dog every time.

Do not stay too long in the water. Dogs can get cold quickly if they will be swimming too long, so be sure to pay attention to weather conditions and temperature.

Why Some Australian Shepherds Hate Water

In most cases, dogs do not like water if they are improperly introduced to it. Same like in any trainings, if you force your dog to do something, it will associate him with some kind of constraint. It is important to set a good first experience for your Australian Shepherd with water and swimming, so try to introduce him to the water from an early age.

What To Do If Your Australian Shepherd Is Scared Of Water

It is normal that your Australian Shepherd is scared of water, especially if its their first time. The water-scared animal is distracted by the feeling that the hard ground has disappeared under its paws. That’s why you need to choose a shallow, an unpitted shore.

After bringing your Australian Shepherd there, drop his favorite ball into the water. Give the command, throw the ball and tell the dog to bring it back. If the dog has moved towards the ball, praise and stimulate him.

If your Australian Shepherd is still swinging, tie up a short leash, run with him along the coast. Run close to the water and if possible sometimes go little bit into it, and the forgotten dog will run together and not see what‘s underfoot. Later, go little bit more into the water and invite the dog. Got in the water – praise, and slowly go deeper. Without reaching the ground with the paws, your Australian Shepherd will try to swim. If necessary, hold it by the belly.

Additional Care After Swimming at Sea Or Other Bodies Of Water

If the swim was in windy weather, the dog should be wiped with a dry towel, especially the ears, as wet they are most vulnerable to wind. If there is dense vegetation near the water body, it is necessary to inspect the animal‘s skin for ticks.

The paws should also be inspected for cuts and punctures. When you return home, the dog should be washed with shampoo, even if there is no doubt about the cleanliness of the pond where the swimming took place.

The dog‘s skin can become dehydrated due to prolonged exposure to water and detergents. To prevent irritation of dry areas, lubricate them with linseed or pumpkin oil.

After swimming, it is necessary to remove the tangled tufts of hair in the fur, which if not noticed in time can cause discomfort and become a breeding ground for bacteria – otherwise allergic reactions or even skin diseases can occur. In this situation, a pet brush or metal comb will help you.

If you noticed that even after thorough hygiene your Australian Shepherd coat or skin is full of dandruffs, he is constantly scratching, stops eating or any other behavior changes – it is necessary to consult specialists. They will take care of the thorough examination of your Australian Shepherd.


Swimming is not only a game but also a fun part of dog care. It is a mistake to think that dogs know how to swim by nature – just because they are dogs. But that is not true, pet should be trained gradually to swim.

Naturally, if you just throw the dog into the water, the fear of water bodies may persist throughout the dog‘s life, so it really shouldn‘t be done that way. Let your Australian Shepherd get used to the water. At first he may not want to get in, but you should not force him. Better try next time.

As always, you may need patience before your Aussie starts to feel comfortable in the water. However, little by little swimming together with your Australian Shepherd will bring not only pleasure but also immeasurable benefits!

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