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My dog is water-shy. What can I do?

My dog is water-shy. What can I do?

Mark Whitehouse advises a reader who is concerned about a spaniel who dislikes water

Q: My two year-old spaniel dog refuses to enter water. How can I help my water-shy dog and give him more confidence? (Read more on how to train your dog for water-work.)

Helping water-shy dogs

Water work can be a major stumbling block for all breeds of dogs, and I would recommend it be introduced at an early age, ideally between six and nine months. Here’s a step-by-step guide to training water-shy dogs.

  1. Locate a shallow entry point along the banking sides of a pond where you can enter the water yourself. This is so you can encourage your dog to wade in alongside you.
  2. Remember, plenty of praise and encouragement should be given to your dog at all times during this exercise.
  3. As your dog’s confidence grows introduce short retrieves by throwing a small canvas dummy along the water’s edge.
  4. Repeat this exercise several times increasing the distance at every throw.
  5. If your dog at any time refuses to retrieve the dummy or become stressed with the situation, shorten the distances you are throwing the dummy.
  6. Try to ensure your dog never fails to retrieve the dummy, you can always increase the distance of the throw at a later stage once his…

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