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Why Does My Labrador Not Like Water – Things To Consider

We all picture Labradors as dogs that jump into the water as soon as they get the chance. After all, all Labradors love the water, right. However, not every dog is the same, and some dogs do not exhibit all of the traits that their breed is known by. This leaves some Labradors don’t like swimming. Nevertheless, the owners of the non-swimming labs have likely asked themselves: why does my Labrador not like water? 

Labradors do not like water because they are afraid of it. Labradors can develop a fear of water or have a health condition that makes swimming difficult or painful. Past negative experiences with water may cause your Labrador to not like it.

This article will explain some common reasons why some Labs don’t like water. We will also be answering some commonly asked questions and providing you some additional things that you should consider when it comes to labs not liking the water. 

Reasons Your Labrador Does Not Like Water

There are five main reasons why some labs don’t like water. This is typically fear-related or due to a physical cause that makes swimming for the Lab difficult or unpleasant. Here are the five reasons your Labrador does not like water. 

Your Lab Is Afraid Of Water

Some labs do not like water simply because they have developed a fear of it. Phobias can develop as a result of many different things. They could be afraid of water because of a traumatic experience or simply because it is brand new.

If you believe that your Lab doesn’t like water due to its phobia, you should desensitize your dog to it slowly. You can do this by simply being around water without forcing them into it and slowly acclimating them to it. 

Your Lab Has A Condition That Makes Swimming Difficult Or Painful

Your Labrador may seem to be afraid of the water because they have a painful medical condition. Some health conditions could make swimming difficult or painful for dogs. These health conditions include but are not limited to: 

● Hip Dysplasia

● Elbow Dysplasia

● Arthritis

● Exercise-related injuries such as pulled or torn muscles, tendons, or ligaments

● Ear infections 

● Broken bones

● Obesity 

If your dog has a painful injury or health condition, it is important to visit your vet right away. Although some conditions may keep your Lab from swimming altogether, other conditions need to be treated before your dog can swim like he normally would again. 

Your Lab Isn’t A Strong Swimmer

Although labs were originally bred to be strong swimmers, you can’t just put a lab in deep water if he has never swum before.

Although the dog would instinctively paddle, this experience could be traumatizing for him, and he likely wouldn’t be able to maneuver in the water very well.

Similarly, it is advised to keep lab puppies away from large bodies of water until they reach six months old and stay out of water altogether until three months old. 

The Water Is Too Cold

Although Labradors are equipped with a water-resistant double coat, this does not mean that they are immune to the cold. Swimming in cold water can lead to complications such as hypothermia if it is also cold outside.

Similarly, swimming in cold water can cause limbs to become stiff, making swimming and moving in the water difficult.

In some cases, swimming in cold water can cause a condition called cold water tail in Labrador retrievers. This medical condition causes the tail to become completely limp from the base to the tip.

Your Lab Is Afraid Of The Sound Of Running Water 

Some dogs are afraid of water only when running, such as water in a river or stream. These dogs are normally happy to swim in standing water like a swimming pool or lake.

However, when it comes to the sound and movement of running water, these dogs can become fearful, and they will not swim.

If this is the case with your dog, you could gradually desensitize him to the sound, which will reduce his fear of it. Once he no longer reacts to the sound of running water, you could encourage him to swim in an area with low leveled, slow running water. 

Why Is My Lab Afraid Of Water

Dogs can be afraid of water for several different reasons. The first is that they are brand new to it. Puppies and adult dogs may fearfully react to water simply because they have never experienced it before.

The next cause of dogs being afraid of the water is that they have not been properly introduced. Forcing a dog to go in the water or putting your dog into a situation they are not ready for when being introduced to water can cause them to be stressed out around the water.

It could even cause them to develop a phobia of water in some cases. The final cause of dogs being afraid of water is that they have had a traumatic experience in or around water that caused them to develop a severe phobia. 

When Should I Introduce My Lab To Water

You can start introducing your lab puppy to water at three months old. However, it would help if you introduced puppies at this age to water slowly.

Kiddie pools and bathtubs are a great start. When it comes to deep and large bodies of water, such as large swimming pools and the beach, it is suggested to wait until your lab puppy is six months old.

How Do I Get My Lab To Like Water

You cannot get every dog to like water. However, you can slowly desensitize them to water for dogs with a minor fear.

Some dogs with severe phobias of water and dogs with health conditions making swimming painful or difficult will likely never take to the water. It is essential to remember that you should never force a dog to swim in the water, and you should only encourage him to do so. 

Things To Consider

There are some additional things that you should consider when it comes to Labradors not liking water. These include swimming safety precautions that you should take when your Lab is swimming and how you should teach your Lab to swim.

Swimming Safety Precautions

There are some swimming safety precautions that you should consider when taking your dog for a swim. They are:

● Don’t put your dog in water with too high of current

● Put a life vest on dogs who are not confident swimmers

● Make sure your dog is well acclimated to water before swimming 

● Make sure there are no dangerous animals or parasites in the water

Teaching a Lab to Swim 

Although swimming is typically instinctual in labs, you should teach him how to swim slowly to avoid him developing a fear of the water. It would be best if you first encouraged him to go to the water’s edge.

This may take some time and a bit of coaxing. After he is ok with being near the water, he will either jump in the water himself or require you to guide him in gently. Once he is in the water, you should put your hand or arm under his chest to support him in the water.

This will make your dog more buoyant and comfortable. After a bit of time doing this, you can take your arm or hand away while remaining near him in the water. It is, of course, always important to remember to follow the swimming safety precautions.