Hepper is reader-supported. When you buy via links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no cost to you. Learn more.

Do Rhodesian Ridgebacks Like Water? Exposure, Tips & FAQs

Rachael Gerkensmeyer

By Rachael Gerkensmeyer

Rhodesian Ridgeback dog outdoors

Many dog breeds love spending time in the water, whether it’s a bathtub, a swimming pool, a river, or the ocean. However, not all dogs like water. This happens to be true for the Rhodesian Ridgeback. Most Ridgebacks do not enjoy getting wet, even just walking over puddles. However, this does not mean they cannot learn to like the water. Read on to learn more.

Divider 2

Why Rhodesian Ridgebacks Don’t Typically Like Water

Rhodesian Ridgebacks were not bred to work in water settings. Instead, they were raised to work as guards and hunters on land. You may notice that most dog breeds that naturally enjoy being in the water are those that have been traditionally bred to do so, such as Labrador Retrievers and Cocker Spaniels. This is not to say that all Rhodesian Ridgebacks hate being in the water. Some take well to it right from the get-go, while others gradually learn to like it. Still others never get used to being in the water, though, and will resist any attempt to coax them into getting wet.

Can Rhodesian Ridgebacks Swim?

This breed is not a natural swimmer, but they are athletic, so they can learn to do it. It takes time, patience, and encouragement, but the work is well worth it if you want your dog to join you in the pool, lake, or ocean, or at least help them be safe if they fall into a body of water. Your dog will probably feel stressed out the first time or two that they try to swim, so you should be nearby to support their body as they find their swimming legs.

Early Exposure Makes a World of Difference

It is easier to get a Rhodesian Ridgeback used to being near and in water if they are exposed to water sources early on in life. Puppies are more likely to follow your lead without fear and participate in water activities without feeling anxious. Teaching your puppy how to swim in a plastic kiddie pool will optimize the chance that they’ll enjoy getting wet and swimming later in life.

Rhodesian Labrador chasing a ball
Image Credit: Danielle Armstrong, Shutterstock

The 5 Tips on How to Get Your Rhodesian Ridgeback Used to the Water

Even if your Rhodesian Ridgeback is not a puppy, it is still possible to get them used to being near and in the water. Keep in mind that patience, commitment, and perseverance are essential for success. Here are a few of the most effective techniques to consider implementing.

1. Hang Out in the Rain

One effective way to get your Rhodesian Ridgeback accustomed to being wet is to spend time outside together when it is raining. Go for a walk around the neighborhood while it sprinkles, or play fetch in the backyard during a spring shower. Even taking potty breaks in the rain will help them get used to the idea.

2. Turn On the Sprinkler

Get outside and turn on the sprinkler, then run through it while encouraging your dog to do the same thing. If they resist, try holding one of their favorite toys in your hand to entice them. You can also coax them into the sprinkler with treats. Once you figure out what gets your canine companion into the sprinkler, repeat the process periodically until they start running through it on their own.

3. Invest in a Plastic Kiddie Pool

Your fully grown Rhodesian Ridgeback is too large to learn how to swim in a plastic kiddie pool, but they can still learn how to get comfortable being in the water. First, fill the pool only about halfway with water and throw a few toys inside. Then, start playing with the toys while encouraging your dog to get in the pool and play along with you. Once they get used to playing in a half-filled pool, fill the pool all the way up.

4. Incorporate a Water-Loving Dog Into the Mix

If you don’t have any other dogs that like water, find a friend or family member who does, and invite them over for a romp in the pool or at the lake. Watching another dog have fun in the water should be enough to get your Rhodesian Ridgeback at least thinking about hopping in the water along with them. If it doesn’t happen the first time, keep trying. Eventually, your dog should want to join in on the water fun, even if just a little.

5. Practice Patience

It can take a while for a Rhodesian Ridgeback to get used to the idea of spending time in water, especially if they were not exposed to water as puppies. Therefore, you must practice patience to see results. If you are too pushy, you may make your dog even warier of the water and set back any progress that has been made. Never push your dog to get in the water; always let them make the decision.

Rhodesian Ridgebacks playing a tennis ball
Image Credit: boumapetrovice, Pixabay

Divider 8

Last Thoughts

While Rhodesian Ridgebacks are not naturally inclined to spend time in the water, they can be taught to enjoy the practice. It’s best to start early, while they are still open-minded puppies. Once they get older, their inclination to avoid water will likely be strong. The tips and tricks outlined here should help make the process of getting your dog used to water easier and more enjoyable overall.

Featured Image Credit: Marry Kolesnik, Shutterstock

Related Articles

Further Reading

Vet Articles

Latest Vet Answers

The latest veterinarians' answers to questions from our database