It fills me with joy knowing how comfortable Zora is now in and around water. She now really truly swims. Retrieving the ball. Problem solving around different banks and inclines. Using her tail as a rudder. Makes me so happy!!
It’s taken nearly 3 full summers to get her this comfortable with water. Lots of patience, time, and opportunities for her to associate water with positive fun.
When we started this process she was the young dog who would avoid water whenever possible. Leaping over or around puddles on rainy days. Watching Tom and I wade through a stream to cross it, then figure out how to get across from rock to rock or branch to branch so her little paws never had to touch the offending wet stuff.
Now she swims. Happily swims! It makes my heart sing. The other day we were on a woods walk and came to a watering hole. She confidently, with no prompting, hopped off a rock into the water to cool off. No second guessing. No seeming to worry about how deep it might be. Just hop into the water trusting it would be alright. Trusting herself and her body and the water. It was grand.
How we got from point A water avoidance to point W with happily swimming. Well, all the letters step by step in between. Giving her chances to observe other dogs calmly confidently enjoying the water. Giving her chances to observe me wading in water. Giving her chances to explore water with no chance of failure (ie no chance of her going over her head and feeling like she might drown). Giving her ample reinforcement when she interacted with any water. Giving her chances to pair the cool water with internal rewards (ie it makes me feel cooler and better!) Never pressuring her to do more than she was comfortable with. And bit by bit her confidence grew.
Makes me so so so so sooooo Happy! Did I mention how happy it makes me?! 😉