Blog - Just messing about in the water

Just messing about in the water

I normally introduce dogs to water without any kind of retrieving and just let them pootle around and have a wee play.

Where we live now, there’s a little loch around the corner but I don’t let the dogs go in, even though it would be perfect for water training as there’s a little island with a tree on it in the middle, however because the local families come through to feed the ducks and I don’t want the boys to frighten the ducks away, not to mention the resident Heron.

We’ve passed shallow rivers and streams but nothing that I felt comfortable getting Emrys to retrieve from, the deeper rivers have been too fast flowing and when we nipped up to Loch Lomond a couple of times we’ve not found safe areas to put him in. It’s been a bit of Goldilocks Porridge trying to find some water for training, either too shallow to swim in or too fast flowing for starting off.

More of a splash than a swim
When Emrys was just over a year old, during one of our trips across to see Joe Hipwell (Sealpin Gundogs) we decided to pop him in the man-made pond. Although there was a bit of a gentle slope into the water from the side we started from, Emrys launched himself in. Like many young dogs he swam bum down shoulders up, with his front paws splashing and batting on the waters surface. He was so excited about the retrieve and couldn’t be faulted for his enthusiasm… but definitely ‘nul points’ on style. We headed round the other side of the pond which was deeper quicker hoping it would help to level his weight out. Nope, that didn’t work either and he was still splashing around.

When I had my hand operation in Spring last year, Spud and Emrys went to stay with Joe for a month and he had plenty of time in the water but when I took him out a couple of weeks ago to do some water training again he was still bum down shoulders up and splashing, which meant he then couldn’t power through the river and struggled with the flow.

Hydrotherapy
I used to take my first Labrador Bart to hydrotherapy as a way of keeping him mobile when he developed arthritic elbows and when Spud needed rehab following getting his hind leg pinned at 10 months for a sublaxating patella, we found a hydrotherapy treadmill was brilliant.

Bart used to go in a rectangular pool, and we’d pop dummies in for him to retrieve, whereas the treadmill was literally that, a treadmill in a glass box with the hydrotherapist behind Spud to ensure he tracked his hind legs correctly, so that he was building up and conditioning the appropriate muscles.

The hydrotherapist I was recommended for Emrys however, had a round / donut shaped pool which I’d never come across before and it was set up so that he was swimming into the current. Unlike Spud and Dante, who also had a swim, Emrys had a life jacket on to give him some buoyancy in the water and to give him confidence. Julie then attached him to the line that ran from his collar, through to the centre point of the donut and then to her hand, so that she could control the speed and his position in the swim aisle. Initially it was more of a splash than a swim, and he was only in for four minutes in total, but the last 3 or so laps of the donut, Emrys settled down and relaxed into a steady rhythmic paddle.

However, when we went back to the Borders a couple of weeks later he was still all over the place and at one point, Dante went back in to help him out which was incredibly touching to watch (see the video).

I’m determined to get him swimming properly, not just from a safety perspective, but also because I don’t feel that I can compete him in Working Tests until he’s a strong swimmer as I don’t want to set him up to fail or panic if he ends up being caught in an undercurrent.

As such we headed off to A.C.E Physiotherapy to start with some serious hydrotherapy where the hydro therapist gets in the water with the dog. It was absolutely brilliant, and I was very impressed with the set up.

Dante went in first and it was wonderful to watch. He powered through the water like the pro that he is and best of all, there are viewing panels at the side of the pool so that you can see the action and co-ordination of the dog under the water… then it was shower time and resting in the car whilst we got Emrys in.

Initially Emrys splashed around but Steve used not only the vest to help level him out but also popped a hand under his tummy. With lots of rest periods as he went, Steve started to use a toy to pull him forwards, encouraging his body to take the correct position. Although there was a lot of fizzing in the water as he swam, by the end of the short lesson Emrys’s technique was massively improved.

We’re back for another couple of sessions so fingers crossed, this time next month, Emrys will be powering like pro’ too…

first published 24 June 2023

buy the book - https://thepetgundog.co.uk/Home/Books
join the club - https://thepetgundogclub.com

Blog - Just messing about in the water

I normally introduce dogs to water without any kind of retrieving and just let them pootle around and have a wee play.

Just messing about in the water

Where we live now, there’s a little loch around the corner but I don’t let the dogs go in, even though it would be perfect for water training as there’s a little island with a tree on it in the middle, however because the local families come through to feed the ducks and I don’t want the boys to frighten the ducks away, not to mention the resident Heron.

We’ve passed shallow rivers and streams but nothing that I felt comfortable getting Emrys to retrieve from, the deeper rivers have been too fast flowing and when we nipped up to Loch Lomond a couple of times we’ve not found safe areas to put him in. It’s been a bit of Goldilocks Porridge trying to find some water for training, either too shallow to swim in or too fast flowing for starting off.

More of a splash than a swim
When Emrys was just over a year old, during one of our trips across to see Joe Hipwell (Sealpin Gundogs) we decided to pop him in the man-made pond. Although there was a bit of a gentle slope into the water from the side we started from, Emrys launched himself in. Like many young dogs he swam bum down shoulders up, with his front paws splashing and batting on the waters surface. He was so excited about the retrieve and couldn’t be faulted for his enthusiasm… but definitely ‘nul points’ on style. We headed round the other side of the pond which was deeper quicker hoping it would help to level his weight out. Nope, that didn’t work either and he was still splashing around.

When I had my hand operation in Spring last year, Spud and Emrys went to stay with Joe for a month and he had plenty of time in the water but when I took him out a couple of weeks ago to do some water training again he was still bum down shoulders up and splashing, which meant he then couldn’t power through the river and struggled with the flow.

Hydrotherapy
I used to take my first Labrador Bart to hydrotherapy as a way of keeping him mobile when he developed arthritic elbows and when Spud needed rehab following getting his hind leg pinned at 10 months for a sublaxating patella, we found a hydrotherapy treadmill was brilliant.

Bart used to go in a rectangular pool, and we’d pop dummies in for him to retrieve, whereas the treadmill was literally that, a treadmill in a glass box with the hydrotherapist behind Spud to ensure he tracked his hind legs correctly, so that he was building up and conditioning the appropriate muscles.

The hydrotherapist I was recommended for Emrys however, had a round / donut shaped pool which I’d never come across before and it was set up so that he was swimming into the current. Unlike Spud and Dante, who also had a swim, Emrys had a life jacket on to give him some buoyancy in the water and to give him confidence. Julie then attached him to the line that ran from his collar, through to the centre point of the donut and then to her hand, so that she could control the speed and his position in the swim aisle. Initially it was more of a splash than a swim, and he was only in for four minutes in total, but the last 3 or so laps of the donut, Emrys settled down and relaxed into a steady rhythmic paddle.

However, when we went back to the Borders a couple of weeks later he was still all over the place and at one point, Dante went back in to help him out which was incredibly touching to watch (see the video).

Click to see Dante helping Emrys in the water

I’m determined to get him swimming properly, not just from a safety perspective, but also because I don’t feel that I can compete him in Working Tests until he’s a strong swimmer as I don’t want to set him up to fail or panic if he ends up being caught in an undercurrent.

As such we headed off to A.C.E Physiotherapy to start with some serious hydrotherapy where the hydro therapist gets in the water with the dog. It was absolutely brilliant, and I was very impressed with the set up.

Dante went in first and it was wonderful to watch. He powered through the water like the pro that he is and best of all, there are viewing panels at the side of the pool so that you can see the action and co-ordination of the dog under the water… then it was shower time and resting in the car whilst we got Emrys in.

Click to see Dante in the Hydrotherapy pool

Initially Emrys splashed around but Steve used not only the vest to help level him out but also popped a hand under his tummy. With lots of rest periods as he went, Steve started to use a toy to pull him forwards, encouraging his body to take the correct position. Although there was a lot of fizzing in the water as he swam, by the end of the short lesson Emrys’s technique was massively improved.

Click to see Emrys in the Hydrotherapy pool

We’re back for another couple of sessions so fingers crossed, this time next month, Emrys will be powering like pro’ too…

first published 24 June 2023

buy the book - https://thepetgundog.co.uk/Home/Books
join the club - https://thepetgundogclub.com