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Teaching Your Beagle to Swim

Many Beagles take to swimming naturally and will never need to be taught. Some will never like water for reasons no one may ever understand. If it is really important to you to have a Beagle that swims, the best thing to do is to introduce him to water and swimming as a puppy. Kiddie pools and even your bathtub if it’s deep enough can be a good place to start with a puppy.

Make Water Fun

Start somewhere that your dog can touch the ground, so very shallow water. Beagle puppies have short legs and kiddie pools and bathtubs are often perfect spots. Play with your puppy in the water and bring toys and treats to the party so that he has lots of fun. You do not want him thinking that every time he gets wet you intend to give him a bath.

Start with short sessions playing directly in the water then graduate to tossing toys and other retrievable items into the water for him to get. Obviously, he needs to be able to get into and out of the water easily so this won’t work if the sides are too high for him to get over without difficulty.

Life Jackets

It might sound odd and counterproductive but putting your Beagle into a life vest designed specifically for dogs can be very helpful. Many dogs will venture into the shallows of a lake or pond but begin to panic as soon as they hit deeper water and their head goes under. No one likes a nose full of water, including your dog.

Put your Beagle in a life vest and play on the shore for a bit. Once he is comfortable in the vest, you can put him on lead and head for the water. Again, bring lots of treats and toys. Play with him in the shallows for a bit where he can touch the ground fairly easily. Gradually lure and coax him out a bit further. Be by his side with your hands supporting and reassuring him. If he’s getting too frightened, move back into shore and continue playing where he can touch the ground for a while before trying to head out to deeper water again.


With you by his side, get your Beagle out into water that is deep enough that he cannot touch the ground. Support his undercarriage and keep his attention on toys and treats. He will most likely begin by paddling only his front feet. However, you want to keep going and providing support until he is using all four legs. If he only paddles with his front legs, his back end will sink and he will tire more easily.

Test his confidence by tossing a toy or treat a little bit away from you. If he goes for it and swims using all four legs, he’s getting much more comfortable. If he stares at it longingly you still have some work to do.

Some dogs will get the hang of it very quickly while others will take several sessions of coaxing and playing before they are comfortable in the water. Once you are sure your dog is swimming with all four feet, head into the shallows where he can stand comfortably. Gently toss a treat or toy out to an area where you know it is deep enough that he will have to swim. If he heads out for it and retrieves it with confidence then he is ready to try it without the life jacket. If he seems at all uncertain, keep working with him while wearing the jacket. You want him to be sure of himself in the water before you take the life jacket away.

If you are out boating or anywhere that the water is quite deep or rough, it is always a good idea to put a life jacket on your Beagle even if he is a good swimmer. It can save his life if he tires or the water gets too rough for him to swim in.

Photo credit: soozums/Flickr

Should you have a concern regarding the health of your Beagle(s), you should contact your veterinarian. All information on this site is presented solely for educational and informational purposes and should not, at any time, be considered a substitute for seeking or receiving veterinary care for your Beagle(s).