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Can Pit Bulls Swim? Safety & Introduction to Water Tips

Kit Copson

By Kit Copson

red pitbull swimming in the pool

If you’re the lucky parent of a Pit Bull and have a pool or frequently take trips to the lake or beach, you may be wondering how well your new friend would hold up taking part in activities like swimming, paddling, and splashing about. Though Pit Bulls may not be as graceful or skilled in the water as certain breeds like Labradors and Poodles due to their heavy, stocky builds, many can swim very well.

That said, the fact that many Pit Bulls enjoy swimming doesn’t mean all of them will be at ease around water. Read on to find out more about how to gently introduce your Pit Bull to water and to learn some important water safety tips for pit bulls.

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Do Pit Bulls Like Water?

Each dog takes to water differently—some love it and some don’t care for it at all. Pit Bulls are very energetic, athletic, and enthusiastic dogs that often enjoy getting stuck into a variety of activities or at least giving them a try, so many do enjoy playing in water and swimming.

However, not every Pit Bull will happily jump into a pool and start paddling away. Some may be nervous around water either because it’s new to them or they’ve had a traumatic experience in the past, which is why it’s crucial to never take it for granted that all dogs can swim or are comfortable around water.

pitbull taking a bath
Image Credit: Sonsedska Yuliia, Shutterstock

Top 6 Tips for Introducing a Pit Bull to Water

If you would like your nervous Pit Bull to feel more confident around water and perhaps learn to swim, here are some top tips for introducing a Pit Bull to water safely.

1. Let Them Paddle

You should never force your Pit Bull into a pool, lake, ocean, or any body of water, but instead, introduce them to water gradually by letting them dip their feet and paddle at their own pace. This allows them to increase their confidence bit by bit without the frightening experience of being placed in water before they’re ready.

One idea is to set up a paddling pool in your yard filled with shallow water and let your Pit Bull explore it, nose at it, dip their paws in—however they want to approach it. Don’t forget to reward your Pit Bull for being brave!

2. Use a Life Jacket

You can get special life jackets designed specifically for dogs, and it’s a great idea to kit your Pit Bull out with one to ensure they stay safe while swimming or playing near water. A life jacket will also help increase your pit bull’s confidence and help them feel more secure. Any dog breed, even breeds renowned for their swimming capabilities, can benefit from wearing a life jacket.

young pitbull swimming with vest
Image Credit: GoDog Photo, Shutterstock

3. Accompany Your Pit Bull in the Water

Heading into the water with your Pit Bull when they’re ready to do so will encourage them and help them to feel safer. You can try taking a toy into the water with you to encourage your Pit Bull to enter the water via the shallowest area. Don’t go into deeper waters until your Pit Bull is more at ease.

Once your Pit Bull has entered the water, you can stay with them and guide them around. Many life jackets come with handles, and you can hold onto these while your Pit Bull is getting used to the water to give them an extra sense of security. Shower on the praise and reward your Pit Bull if possible, to create positive associations with the water.

Again, never force a dog into the water if they don’t want to go—this can be dangerous for both them and you, especially if the dog becomes stressed and starts climbing on you because they’re panicking.

4. Let Your Pit Bull Swim with Another Dog

If someone in your family or a friend has a dog that loves swimming and is good at it, you might want to consider inviting them along when you and your Pit Bull go for a dip. Seeing the other dog in the water might give your Pit Bull more confidence to go for a swim and create a positive association with the activity.

5. Make Sure Your Pit Bull Has an Exit Route

When your Pit Bull is learning to swim, it’s important to make sure they know where to get out of the water. You can either do this by setting up ramps, for example, if you have a pool, or by personally guiding your dog to the water’s edge.

6. Always Stay Close

This next tip likely goes without saying, but always be fully present whether your Pit Bull is just getting used to the water or is an experienced swimmer. Even dogs that can swim really well can get into difficulty, so supervision is key to making sure they always stay safe.

happy pitbull in the pool
Image By: Diego Thomazini, Shutterstock

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Extra Safety Tips for Dogs Going Swimming

Safety is key when taking your Pit Bull swimming, so here are some important tips to make the activity as enjoyable and safe as possible for your Pit Bull:

  • We’ve already mentioned this, but here it is again for the people at the back—put a life jacket on your dog!
  • Avoid areas with blue-green algae as this is toxic to dogs.
  • Bring clean drinking water along with you as it’s not safe to let your dog drink from pools, oceans, and lakes.
  • Rinse your dog’s fur when they’re done swimming to get rid of any potential pollutants, salt water, and chemicals.
  • Dry your dog after swimming, especially the ear area as it’s prone to infections.
  • Never leave your dog in the water unsupervised.
  • Keep an eye out for signs your dog might be struggling in the water.
  • Be mindful of weather and water conditions (waves, currents, etc.) and only allow your dog to go into calm waters where they can easily exit.

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Pit Bulls weren’t bred for swimming, and their muscular, heavy bodies and big heads mean they aren’t the most natural swimmers, but that doesn’t stop some Pit Bulls from getting really good at swimming.

It’s not something every Pit Bull will enjoy or take to quickly, however, so always be respectful of how your Pit Bull feels about water and take things very slowly if you want them to learn how to swim.

You might also like: How Often Should You Bathe a Pitbull? Facts & FAQ

Featured Image Credit: GoDog Photo, Shutterstock

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