My dog is a black lab mix. He likes going in the water, at least the relatively shallow water where his feet can touch the ground. He will go into deeper water, but I think he only does it to be close to me. I'm not sure if he actually likes it or not. He can swim, but his technique is awful. Does anyone have any advice on how to teach him better swimming technique? I'm thinking that if he knew how to swim better he'd enjoy being in the water a lot more.
Here's more details of his problem and what I've tried:
When he follows me into deeper water, he keeps his body pretty vertical so that his hind feet are still touching (or are almost touching) the sand under the water. He uses the "dog paddle" motion with his front paws except he takes them out of the water with every stroke and makes a lot of splashing. So he kind of looks like he's panicking or flailing around in the water. This poor swimming technique also makes him a pretty slow swimmer. (Probably half or a third as fast as he would be if he swam properly)
I've tried assisting him out to deeper water where I know that his feet won't hit the ground in order to remove his temptation to try to "walk" on the sand. That didn't work--he still swam the same way (almost vertically). Then I tried holding his hind end up a little so that he can see that having his body horizontal rather than vertical allows him to swim faster and easier. That worked but he didn't seem to get it. I've done this maybe 8 times in two days with him. Maybe I need to just keeping doing that until it sinks in?
One thing I thought about doing but haven't tried yet is bringing a cutting board or something into the water and holding it directly in front of him on the surface of the water so that his front paws can't break the surface.
Sorry, none of my dogs have ever liked the water so I have no experience taking them or having to teach them how to swim. I would suggest a life jacket for him though since it sounds like if he is exerting that much energy and getting nowhere, he may tire very quickly and find himself seriously panicking and drowning.