Are you kidding me? That’s like asking if babies like to poop, or if the Grinch hates Christmas. Cockapoos are natural born swimmers and will jump into anything holding even the slightest little bit of water.
Dogs can be a bit like humans, some like swimming and some don’t. But with cockapoos, they are very water orientated. There are several reasons for this and to find out about them, we need to look at the breeds they are bred from, Poodles and Spaniels.
Poodles were bred to retrieve small animals from water, so on that side of the family, there are water tendencies. Poodles have webbed feet, which helps propel them along in the water. But what about Spaniels?
Spaniels love water too, they were used to hunt and often that involved water. They were not like Poodles but were used for woodland hunting. Woodlands however often contain puddles and streams, and cocker spaniels are happy to have a dip in the water.
Cockapoos often love swimming and sometimes you will find they have webbed feet to help them. Not all cockapoos have webbed feet – they take a random genetic structure from both spaniels and poodles – and just because both parents don’t have webbed feet doesn’t mean that your cockapoo won’t have them.
If you want your cockapoo to be a water pup, you will need to teach them about water from a young age. Older dogs can also be taught but it’s better to teach a dog when they are young, it’s easier for them to pick up. Here are some top tips to help your cockapoo to learn to swim.
First of all, be patient. Thirty minutes of patience now will mean your dog will have a lifetime of fun with water, rather than be permanently scared of the water. You will need either a pool that you can go into with your dog, or, if you are out in the countryside, a small pond and some sticks and toys, plus another dog for your dog to copy. The other dog must be experienced and happy in the water.
Before you take them out in the open to try water, or even if they are in a pool, get them a water-resistant coat especially for swimming. Get one with a handle because it is important if they get tired you can just reach and grab them out of the water. The same applies if they get into difficulty, get tangled in underwater weeds. That coat could be the difference between life and death so don’t skimp on this.
You will need to get them used to the water jacket, so as usual just put it on them for a few minutes and give them lots of praise. Take it off and leave it for a few hours, then pop it on again. Let the water jacket become associated with treats and praise and soon he will be happy to have it on whenever you like.
If you are outdoors, then you want your cockapoo to see how much awesome fun it is for dogs to swim in water. So, play with your mentor dog, throw sticks and water toys for him to retrieve. Get in the water yourself, if at all possible, just up to your ankles so your dog can see it is safe and fun. You will find your dog gets more and more excited at all the fun going on. Expect them to run up and down the bank, maybe even bark as they get more excited. Soon they will get to the point where they can bear it no longer, and they will jump into the water. Give them plenty of praise and make sure they know you are delighted with them.
Cockapoos don’t have a two-layer coat to keep them warm and keep the water at bay so you will need to keep a close eye on your dog. If he shows any signs of discomfort or they look at all tired, get them out of the water quickly. Keep a couple of thick towels to dry them with, microfibre towels are ideal.
Swimming Pool Method
If you are going to teach your cockapoo pup to swim in a swimming pool, then you will need to get into the water yourself. Play with your pup around the pool, let him know that water is fun. Then encourage your cockapoo into the water with his favourite toy. He will get very excited and run around the pool.
If there are steps into the pool and you feel your pup is ready, just put him on the first step. It shouldn’t be too deep, and definitely not out of his depth. Let him stay there while you play with his toy and give him lots of praise. You can give him small treats of food if food is what really motivates him but keep them very small. Dogs can get tummy ache playing in the water on a full stomach.
It helps if you have a human companion at this point, someone your dog loves and trusts. Let them hold him in the water and stand a short distance away, just a couple of metres. Call your cockapoo and see if he will swim to you. If he does, great, but if not don’t force him. Stay patient. Getting into the water in someone’s arms might be enough for him this time, and next time he may want to try swimming. It’s worth being patient right now.
One way to know that he is ready to try swimming on his own is if he starts to paddle with his legs when he gets into the water. A cockapoo that starts to paddle is one that is keen to swim. Try again, calling him from a short distance away and have the other person let him go. He will try to swim to you. When dogs swim, they put their heads forward and paddle enthusiastically.
It’s easy, when your dog has the hang of it, to want to spend a long time in and around the pool. But if your dog is a pup, they won’t have the energy to keep on swimming and swimming as you do. So, just let him swim in short bursts with rests in between. If he slows down in the water, just take him out and wrap him up well, and make sure he stays warm and dry.
You and your dog can have hours of fun in the water, but he will need to learn about water and how to swim. Cockapoos are usually keen swimmers but make sure your pooch is happy in the water, be very patient and let him acclimatise to it in his own time. Then you will have a water pup that can’t wait to get in and swim with you.