Huskies are a highly energetic breed that can’t seem to get enough exercise. It makes sense for them to love aquatic sports such as swimming, so why is it that so many owners are having trouble getting their Huskies in the water? And do Huskies like to swim in the first place? Keep reading for the surprising truth surrounding Huskies and the water.
Do Huskies like to swim?
Let’s get straight to the point and answer the question that many owners want to know – do Huskies like to swim? The answer isn’t as straightforward as a simple yes or no.
In our experience most Huskies will be very reluctant to get in large bodies of water, especially if they’ve never been in them before. As a result, most Huskies won’t even know how to swim – never mind enjoy it!
This is often surprising to many people. Huskies have built a reputation for being a high-energy breed that can’t seem to get enough exercise. In theory, this should make them an ideal candidate for water-based activities such as swimming.
Further to this, their thick coats and tolerance for arctic temperatures have led to many people believing that Huskies are essentially immune to getting cold. This is simply not the case, however.
The reality is that swimming could have been a death sentence for Siberian Huskies that were originally bred by the Chukchi Tribe. This is because in their cold environments, a wet coat would have quickly frozen and led to hypothermia setting in. As a result, Huskies would have avoided swimming at all costs.
Whilst Huskies are not naturally inclined to swim like some other, similarly energetic breeds, some Huskies can learn to love being in the water. Many Huskies will enjoy having a splash about in a shallow paddling pool, particularly on hot days to help them cool down.
If you have the patience, it is possible to safely teach your Husky to swim. It’s certainly not an easy task though, remember that your Husky will have to overcome their instincts. If you succeed, there’s a very good chance that your Husky will love swimming – so much so that you may struggle to get them out of the water!
Keep reading for our tips on how to teach your Husky to swim.
Are Huskies afraid of water?
We commonly get asked if Huskies are naturally afraid of water and could that be the reason that they don’t like to swim. This likely comes from the fact that Huskies are very reluctant to get in the water, even if they can see other dogs safely in there.
Typically, all Huskies will have some fear regarding water. This is especially true for large bodies of deep water such as pools, lakes, and the sea.
This stems back to their origins with the Chukchi Tribe that we previously mentioned. In the arctic climates they were bred to live in, survival was not easy and Huskies developed instincts to protect them in almost unliveable conditions.
They would have been unlikely to encounter many large bodies of water as the cold temperatures would have frozen them over to ice. Those that they did come across would have been so cold that swimming in them would have likely killed the Husky.
As a result, Huskies naturally evolved their instincts to avoid water in favour of remaining safely warm and dry.
In the modern-day, even though many Huskies now live in warmer climates, their instincts to avoid water remain. Although it may be frustrating at times, it’s important to remember that these instincts are what allowed Siberian Huskies to survive and become and the well-loved breed they are today.
Can you teach a Husky to swim?
So, now you know the surprising truth that Huskies typically don’t like to swim, you’re probably wondering if they can be taught to enjoy it. The good news is that they can, it just might take a while for them to overcome their instincts.
We’ve compiled our favourite tips for getting your Husky into the water for the first time and teaching them to swim. Keep in mind that all Huskies are different and what works for some is not guaranteed to work for others.
1. Make sure your Husky is wearing a life jacket
This one is an absolute must, especially if you are introducing them to deep water.
Dog life jackets are available in several different styles and sizes meaning there is no excuse for you to not make sure your Husky is equipped with one.
Not only do life jackets keep your Husky afloat, but they can also make your Husky feel more confident whilst they are in the water. This is because they make it easier to stay above the water meaning your Husky will have more endurance whilst swimming.
Having the added assistance will help them to focus more on the movement of their legs. This should come instinctively to them once they are actually in the water but the life-jacket will help them to build more strength and get it perfect.
Their life jackets need to be a snug fit without being too tight. If the life-jacket is too tight or too loose your Husky will become uncomfortable, adding to the stress they will likely already be facing.
One of our favourites is the Dog Life Jacket by Queenmore which has nearly 2000 5-star reviews on Amazon! It’s available in sizes x-small to xx-large so make sure to check the size guide to find the right one for your Husky.
It has a handle on the back to help you lift your Husky in and out of the water. Our favourite feature is the adorable shark fin which actually serves the purpose of making your Husky more visible in the water, especially if they start splashing about.
2. Get in the water with your Husky
Huskies are very loyal companions and will often follow wherever you go. That means that one of the most encouraging things you can do for your Husky is getting in the water yourself and showing them it’s safe.
If they see you in the water, they will be more inclined to jump in at their own will. It will show them that the person they trust most has decided that it is a safe activity and will motivate them to try for themselves.
Remember that you want to keep this as a positive experience for your Husky. Don’t try to pull them into the water with you, it may lead to them garnering more fear than they had previously.
Use a leash to keep them nearby but ensure it is always slack. When your Husky is ready, they will come to the water at their own will. Encouraging them to get in the water of their own free will is the best thing you can do to build a positive association with swimming.
3. Give them lots of rewarding praise whilst they’re in the water
Huskies normally respond very well to praise so remember to give them lots of encouragement for making progress. Reward them for coming near to the water, for giving it an investigative sniff, and of course, if they try to get in.
You can give them praise in whatever way you know works for them during their regular training sessions. Some Huskies may even benefit from being rewarded with small training treats or kibbles.
Giving them praise reinforces the fact that they are doing something good and keeps the environment positive.
4. Be patient with them and end the session at the right time
Teaching your Husky to swim is not going to happen all in one session. It’s not easy for them to overcome their fears and in some sessions, you may only get as far as coming close to the water.
Always be patient with them and don’t try to force them into it. We know some people might think that putting them in the water straight away will force them to get used to it, but by doing this you are likely ensuring that your Husky never goes near water again.
This also means knowing when to end your training session. As previously mentioned, it’s important to keep your Huskies mindset a positive one. If you end the session positively, your Husky will remember the whole session as being positive, helping them to progress faster.
Try to end the session before they become too tired, and give them lots of rewarding praise. Sometimes, you may need to end a session after only a small amount of progress – this could be as simple as getting close to the water!
Keep in mind that all progress is progress and that small steps will lead to a rewarding outcome.
So, Huskies are not the confident swimmers you may think they are. But, with a little time and dedication, you could end up with a Husky who loves to be in the water after all.
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