When we were in the Netherlands bringing Thunus back, we learned a great deal from long time breeders Alex and Greet of Quaciendas. One thing we implemented was from their puppy therapy swimming lessons at 8 weeks. Granted, we don’t have quite the amazing facility that we experienced with Alex and Greet, but we wanted to emulate the process here in America.
Taking 2-3 puppies at a time, we go where there is a gentle slope for puppies to walk in at their own pace. We have a life vest, too, that fits our Chihuahua, which we’ll use with the puppies to start. Then, we’ll encourage the pup to walk and splash in the water. If they want, we’ll gently coax them in– always having their bodies supported– for some short circular laps. The process is repeated a few times with LOTS of encouragement. Many pick up the swimming rhythm in no time. The goal is to make the first swim a fun, low stress process which they’ll want to repeat.
All of this is in effort to produce happy little French Water Dogs who like water. Our hopes are that the families continue introducing them to water. We take Isis and Cleo weekly to swim and feel it’s the best form of gentle exercise for the dogs.