Australian Shepherds—also referred to simply as “Aussies”—make excellent companions for both children and adults. They are enthusiastic, devoted, and fiercely protective of their loved ones and property.
Australian Shepherds are known for being extremely energetic dogs who like running and playing, and they are also recognized for their trait of being quite eager to please their owners and guardians. However, when it comes to certain outdoor and family-friendly activities, can Aussies show that same energy if they’re in water? Do Australian Shepherds like to swim?
The answer is very simple: it depends. If your Australian Shepherd is accustomed to water from puppyhood, then they will very likely be a fan of swimming and playing in the water. These high-energy fur balls typically love swimming in the water when they’ve been properly familiarized with it.
Generally, many Australian Shepherds really like swimming since it is a terrific form of exercise for them and provides a great reprieve from the heat during the summer months. If they are not used to water from a young age though, they may show some resistance towards the water. However, they can still be easily trained to swim in most cases.
Keep in mind that individual dog behavior and attitudes toward water may differ, but the majority of Australian Shepherds enjoy swimming since it’s such a great outlet for their high level of energy. Swimming is an excellent sport for them since it allows them to enjoy the outdoors while getting some rigorous physical exercise, both of which an Aussie loves.
Australian Shepherds can be cautious when it comes to attempting new things, but after they get over their initial fear of swimming, they typically develop a preference for the activity. Again, though, individual dogs vary. With this being the case, you may find yourself with an Aussie who just plain doesn’t want to bother with getting wet. You won’t know until you try!
How Does Swimming Help Your Australian Shepherd?
There are several advantages to training your Aussie to swim, including the following:
- It provides them with a means of expressing themselves through play and exercise.
- Swimming can help them avoid growing bored.
- Swimming also gives them something to interact with (i.e., the water). Playing with toys in the water makes an Aussie’s playtime even more complex and fun.
- As an added bonus, swimming can be a very vigorous kind of exercise, meaning that a short period of time spent swimming can be equivalent to a much longer period of activity on land.
- Swimming is an excellent type of exercise that may help your dog avoid obesity as well as a variety of other more severe medical concerns that can limit his or her life expectancy.
Swimming is a great activity to encourage in your canine because lack of physical activity can result in far more significant health concerns, such as the following:
- Back pain
- Heart issues
- Joint issues
- Metabolic disorders
- Reduced lifespan
Swimming and other exercises can also help to keep your pooch looking and feeling youthful. Having such an activity to burn off their excessive amounts of energy will also keep them from becoming destructive, violent, or sick, all of which are the most common causes for people to rehome their Aussies.
How Do You Introduce Your Australian Shepherd to Water?
Making your Australian Shepherd comfortable in the water may take some time and work, but the results will be well worth it. By getting them acquainted with both water and swimming, you will be able to broaden the range of activities that you can participate in with your dog.
When it comes to introducing your Aussie to water, there are a few ground rules to remember:
1. Make Sure You Have the Proper Equipment/Gear
When training your dog to swim, it is likely that you will need to get into the water alongside them and have some things on hand that will assist you in encouraging them.
These are a few items you should have on hand:
- A good quality towel to dry your dog after swimming
- Favorite treats for your canine companion
- Swimsuit (for yourself—you don’t want to be weighed down by wet normal clothing!)
- If the water is rocky, you should bring water shoes.
- Make sure you have your dog’s favorite toy on hand—ideally, one that is water-resistant.
- If taking your Aussie to the beach becomes a frequent pastime, you may want to consider investing in a waterproof seat cover to ensure that your dog does not drench or otherwise dirty up in your car. If you live within walking distance of a beach, you won’t have to worry about this issue—you’ll simply be able to walk there and enjoy taking your Aussie swimming on a regular basis instead!
2. Take It Slow and Easy
If your Australian Shepherd is apprehensive around water, it is critical that you gradually introduce them to both water and swimming. Some owners may believe that the most effective course of action is to simply toss them into the water and force them to swim on their own. In truth, this might cause Aussies to become frightened of water and become even more afraid of it. They may subsequently become fearful of the water entirely and refuse to go near it at all.
3. Encourage Your Canine Companion
Aussies learn most effectively when they are motivated and praised. If your pup even takes a single step into the water, make sure to show your appreciation by patting him or her and giving him or her a reward.
With time, your dog will begin to connect the water with your pleasant behavior, and they will be swimming ASAP!
4. Begin Soon, If Possible
If you receive your Australian Shepherd as a puppy, try to get him or her used to being around water right away. Because puppies learn in quite the same ways as children do, the more you can introduce them to water and swimming at an early age, the less uneasiness they are likely to face as they grow older.
What is the Best Method for Training an Australian Shepherd to Swim?
When it comes to training your Australian Shepherd, time and patience are required most. Positive reinforcement tactics should be used to ease them into the water, and you shouldn’t rush them.
The greatest way to help an Aussie learn is to encourage them and offer them praise along the way. Begin by moving them to a shallow section of the water and then holding their torsos as they paddle for the first time.
Continue to teach your dog in this way until they get the hang of it, and praise your dog regularly. Be mindful that they don’t become unduly fatigued during the first few training sessions, too.
By doing this regularly, the repeated exposure will urge your dog to learn how to swim; and ultimately, they will become quite proficient in the water. You really don’t have to do anything else besides leading your dog around the water until they are fully accustomed to it and have figured out how to swim and navigate on their own.
In order for them to be successful, this acclimatization phase should begin as soon as safely possible during their young puppy months. Even when dogs reach an advanced age, it is still possible to expose them to water and have them adjust well. However, older dogs are more set in their ways and are more prone to just refuse to go swimming entirely if they haven’t already done so before now.
Aussie Swimming Safety Tips
- Don’t Let Your Aussie Go Swimming After Eating
If your Aussie has eaten recently, do not allow him or her to go swimming immediately afterward. Wait at least one to two hours before letting your dog out into the water. Otherwise, they may have their stomach twist, resulting in a medical emergency.
- Supervise Your Canine Companion
This is especially important if your Aussie is swimming in deep water or is just learning how to swim for the first time. You must also make note of whether or not your Aussie is able to get out of the water or access the steps without your assistance even in shallow pools.
- Do Not Let Your Aussie Drink Saltwater
While swimming in the sea or ocean, make sure your dog has plenty of fresh water to drink on land to keep him or her hydrated and happy.
It’s possible that they may be persuaded to drink the saltwater, but this will result in sickness for your pup. If your Aussie is well-hydrated, the likelihood of him gulping down a big amount of saltwater is greatly reduced. If your Aussie continues to drink from the sea or ocean though, you may need to take him swimming in a different location to avoid health risks.
- Allow Him/Her to Swim Only in Safe Areas
Keep your Aussie away from water if there are storms or currents (to avoid drowning) or if there is blue-green algae present (which can cause significant illness). Additionally, be certain that there are no jutting rocks below the surface that might pose a threat to your dog if they were to bump into it. The most ideal swimming conditions for your dog are calm, slow-moving waters.
Lakes, rivers, and ponds—as opposed to the ocean or other larger bodies of water—would be the least dangerous areas for your pup to swim or wade.
- Provide a Life Vest
Providing a life jacket for your dog may be especially beneficial if your dog is still young or still learning how to swim. This is also true for Aussies who enjoy swimming in deep water and exploring new areas. Although they may appear to swim just fine without one, this ensures optimum safety for your canine companion while engaging in water activities and swimming.
What Are the Indicators That Show Your Australian Shepherd Does Not Like Water?
The following are some indicators that your Australian Shepherd does not enjoy swimming:
- Avoiding the pool
- Wanting to go back on land if they are already in the pool
- Feeling anxious around water
What is the Maximum Amount of Time an Australian Shepherd Can Swim?
This is dependent on how well they are able to swim, really. Aussies can generally swim for 20 to 30 minutes each day, depending on their size. If your Australian Shepherd is still learning to swim, you should only allow them to be in the water for 10 to 15 minutes at a time to avoid exhaustion while they’re still learning.
You can gradually increase the amount of time they spend in the water as their swimming skills improve. The fact that Australian Shepherds are inherently athletic means that when they become good swimmers, they may spend up to an hour or more in the water. So, again, their time limit for swimming in the water is greatly dependent on multiple factors.
When swimming, keep an eye on your Aussie at all times. No matter how competent they are, they may still sometimes require assistance in getting out of the water or handling other issues they may encounter while swimming.
Do Australian Shepherds Require Bathing?
Bathing is necessary for an Australian Shepherd in order to maintain the health of their skin and coat. It is common for Australian Shepherds to shed a great deal since their hair is so thick and heavy, so a de-shedding mitt or brush can be used in conjunction with bathing your Aussie to assist them in shedding their coat more quickly. This will assist them in getting rid of any excess hair that may have been matted, too. If you have an Aussie, you’ll want to regularly brush them anyway to avoid mats occurring in the first place.
If your dog is not a lover of baths, be sure to praise him or her both before and after the bath and make it as fun and as positive as possible.
Is It True That Australian Shepherds are Naturally Good Swimmers?
Aussies are not a breed specifically designed for being in the water (like many retrievers and other water dogs), but Australian Shepherds have a highly functional body shape and are very energetic, making them a great match for swimming activities if they’re comfortable in the water.
When you introduce Australian Shepherds to water, they will almost always learn to swim on their own in most cases. They rarely require much swimming instruction unless nervous or very young. Some may be able to swim with a bit of efficiency even on their first attempt, but they will always require additional practice before they become truly proficient. Aussies will improve at swimming in just the same way that people do when they put in the time and effort.
In contrast to Labrador Retrievers, Labradoodles, and other similar dogs, the Australian Shepherd was not designed to be fond of water. It’s important to note that they were mostly bred to keep their feet firmly planted on the ground as herding dogs. If you define “natural swimmer” as a dog born with a natural affinity for water, these canines do not fall into that category. However, very many of them still do love water.
What Should I Do If My Australian Shepherd Isn’t a Big Fan of Swimming?
If your Aussie does not like to swim, you should never push him or her to do so. Never ever toss them into the water in an effort to teach them how to swim or remain afloat by themselves. This is both dangerous and cruel.
Do Aussies Have Webbed Feet?
No, Aussies do not have webbed feet like some water dog breeds. Waterdog breeds’ paws have developed into webbed feet in order for them to be able to swim more effectively compared to other breeds of dog. Unfortunately, Aussies only have a tiny layer of webbing between their toes by comparison, making their paws less effective for this purpose.
In some cases, it may be possible that an Australian Shepherd could have webbed toes if they are a hybrid with another breed that has webbed feet, such as Labrador Retrievers or Poodles.
Family Dog Expert Author
Hi there! I’m Stuart, a devoted dog lover and family dog expert with over a decade of experience working with our furry companions. My passion for dogs drives me to share my knowledge and expertise, helping families build strong, loving bonds with their four-legged friends. When I’m not writing for SirDoggie, you’ll find me hiking, playing with my beautiful dog, or studying music.