Last Updated on April 5, 2023 by The Puppy Mag
Do Vizslas like to swim? It’s a question that many dog owners may have, especially those who are considering getting a Vizsla as a pet.
While some dog breeds are known for their love of the water, such as the Labrador Retriever and the Golden Retriever, others may be less enthusiastic about taking a dip.
In this article, we’ll explore whether Vizslas have a natural affinity for swimming, and if so, what you can do to encourage your furry friend to enjoy this fun and healthy activity. So, let’s dive in!
Do Vizslas Like To Swim?
The short answer for most vizslas is a big YES.
Vizslas love their exercise and their body composition makes swimming a breeze. Not only are they agile and fit and strong, but they are relatively light for their size.
Important point: How your vizsla is introduced to water will have a huge impact on whether or not they like it. A bad previous experience with water can make any dog scared of it for a very long time.
I’ll cover this in another section below.
Are Vizslas a Swimming Breed?
Although vizslas have an impressive resume of hunting, pointing, and retrieving, there’s not much talk of being used in the water.
The truth, however, is that it was extremely likely that they were used in the water to retrieve fallen game, like birds. This hasn’t been exclusively verified, but it’s very likely…
This is therefore the main reason that Vizslas are so fond of the water: They have a long history of being used in and outside of water. Just like other more popular “water dogs”.
Vizslas are mostly known as a pointer, in fact, their alternative name is the Hungarian pointer. But going forward you can also think of them as qualified water dogs too.
How & When To Introduce a Vizsla To Water
Your vizsla’s introduction to water is crucial. Their first few experiences with water will determine just how fond they are of it.
If you have a puppy, you have a clean slate. If you have an adult vizsla that’s already scared of water, you’ll have to be more patient and slow with your approach, but everything remains the same.
How to introduce a Vizsla to water
- Start slowly, indirectly, and without pressure to engage in the water.
- Never force your Vizsla to go near water or get inside a pool.
- Use plenty of treats and positive reinforcement to build good associations with water.
- Stay near the water yourself to help your Vizsla feel safe and confident.
- Once they build a little confidence, gently encourage them further with more treats and positivity.
Whether you introduce your Vizsla to water by using a trickling hose, or a washing bowl full of water, the same rules apply. Do not physically force your V near it or try to pressure them. You must use treats and praise to encourage your Vizsla to approach the water themselves. Positive association is SO CRUCIAL.
If you vizsla has no problem approaching it, sniffing it, licking it, that’s great! Offer them plenty of treats so they build further positive associations, and move on to more challenging things like a shallow paddling pool.
When to introduce a Vizsla to water
- As long as your Vizsla has completed their full course of vaccines by 2 weeks, they can be exposed to water.
- If outside, make sure it’s summer and warm. If it’s inside, make sure they remain warm after getting wet.
Most Vizslas will have completed their full course of vaccine (with 2 weeks extra) by around the 18-20 week mark, depending on when they started.
It’s recommended by veterinarians that dogs do not get wet before this moment. Getting wet can take a toll on the immune system, so it’s important for them to have maximum protection from their jabs.
As long as your Vizsla has completed their vaccines, you can start introducing them to water. If you are in the middle of winter, however, it may be a better idea to wait for warmer months.
7 Swimming Tips For Vizslas
Thankfully, with the right approach, it doesn’t take much work getting your vizsla fond of water. But there are some tips that owners should know, especially when it comes to swimming.
1. Start shallow
If it’s one of the first times your vizsla is going into a body of water, keep it shallow. Ideally, you’ll want to do this in a controlled environment like a swimming pool in your backyard.
If your vizsla is testing the waters at your local beach, ensure the water is calm, flat, and without a strong current. This also brings me to the next point.
2. Doggy lifejackets are a must
It’s crucial to use a doggy lifejacket in the beginning. This will essentially remove all risk and will do a lot of the work to keep your vizsla afloat. Lifejackets will help your vizsla get familiar with “swimming” and paddling all four of their legs.
3. Practice without lifejackets
Ironically, the next most important tip is to not rely on lifejackets all the time. Once your vizsla has had several swims with the lifejacket, it’s essential that you remove it so they become competent at keeping themselves afloat.
Let’s keep it real here, you aren’t going to carry around a doggy lifejacket for the rest of your vizsla’s life, so it’s crucial for them to learn how to swim without one. And it’s best to do this early.
4. Avoid hypothermia
Vizslas get cold easily, so keep swimming sessions short. Ideally, you’ll only want to let your vizsla swim during the summer months or whenever it’s sufficiently warm outside.
Vizslas have a short coat, and when wet, will lose their ability to keep themselves warm. If it’s below 18C (65F) leave the swimming for another day.
5. Keep swimming sessions short
Apart from getting too cold, they can also become exhausted quickly. Swimming is tiring, and it can become dangerous to be fatigued when out of depth.
Never keep your vizsla swimming constantly for more than 20-30 seconds. It sounds short, but it’s best to remain on the safe side. Every half a minute, ensure they can stand up, catch their breath, and rest sufficiently before going again.
6. Always supervise
Never take your eye off your Vizsla when they are swimming out of depth, especially when at the beach. Even competent dogs can panic and get disorientated when they are out of depth.
This commonly happens when owners throw the ball too far at the beach. It’s normal to see dogs swim out halfway to the ball, turn around because they are nervous, but then try to go again… This can become dangerous quickly when the dog gets tired and starts to panic. It’s not uncommon to see owners have to go in after dogs in this situation.
7. Never feed treats while swimming
For the duration of your vizsla’s swimming session, refrain from giving them treats until you are completely finished.
The combination of inhaling treats while they are catching their breath can cause choking and coughing fits. This isn’t ideal when they are exerting themselves and it can even be dangerous if they prematurely go back to swimming.
Treats are a must, but save them until after the final swim.
Why Your Vizsla Might Not Like The Water
If you have an adult vizsla that’s already afraid of the water, it’s likely due to having a bad past experience with it.
A bad past experience can be anything from being splashed with the hose, falling in a swimming pool, or receiving unpleasant bath times.
In more fortunate cases, it could just be that your vizsla has yet to be properly introduced to water. There may not necessarily be a bad past experience getting in the way.
For those that are petrified, you’ll have to take a very slow and gentle approach to build up their confidence again.
A simple way to start would be to fill a washing bowl up with water, sit down next to it, and let them inspect it in their own time. Provide plenty of treats and encouragement, but never force them to come close.
Every time they gain or show a tiny amount of confidence or interest, praise heavily.
Overcoming a fear of water in dogs is all about slow steady progress building upon previous sessions. It can take weeks or even months of gradual exercises to regain your dog’s trust in water. It can always be done, but it’s not easy.
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