Greyhounds, like most dogs, usually love the water and can swim despite their body shape. But, because they were not bred for swimming but for running, there are some barriers that you need to overcome.
Even when you’ve done all you can to prepare them for the water, they still might not make the best swimmers. So it’s important to follow certain steps and precautions.
Let’s go through everything!
Do Greyhounds Like Water?
Although greyhounds can swim, not all of them enjoy the water. They’re individuals, and some may love it, while others are a little more apprehensive.
One of the main reasons that greyhounds may not love water is because of their sensitive skin. Their skin is thin and is designed that way, specifically to help them cool off during a race.
Their blood vessels are closer to the surface than most dogs to allow the air to flow more freely around them, meaning they don’t overheat when running.
However, this equally means that they’re exposed to colder temperatures more easily too.
Cold water will feel much more harsh on their skin than it would to dogs with fluffier coats or thicker skin, meaning swimming in a cold pool might not be enjoyable in the winter.
For the same reason, greyhounds don’t have a massive fat layer under their skin to keep them warm. The thin physique that all greyhounds have makes them more aerodynamic when running.
However, this also means that they have nothing to keep them warm in cold water. This body type also makes them less buoyant than other dogs, so they don’t naturally float.
Can Greyhounds Swim?
Greyhounds can swim, and it’s a misconception that their body type completely stops them from doing so.
However, their lack of mass and fat does present some challenges when it comes to swimming. Floating isn’t easy for them, so it takes a little more effort to keep them above water than other dogs.
They also aren’t built for stamina, instead favoring small bursts of speed to get them over the finish line. Because of this, you should never expect them to swim long distances.
You’ll always need to ensure they’re near a part of the water where they can touch the bottom if they run out of steam.
The shape of their legs and feet also poses a problem, as their skinny limbs and tiny feet don’t make great water paddles, so their progress in water might be slower compared to other dog breeds.
Despite this, their powerful muscles, perfectly equipped for sprinting, are great for swimming too.
And their oversized lungs, built for taking in extra air on a run, will help to keep them afloat a little longer if they’ve taken a breath before taking the plunge.
How To Teach Your Greyhound To Like Water
Most dogs love water, but your greyhound might be a little unsure depending on their start in life. Usually, puppies are exposed to water at a young age and grow up to love it.
However, if you have a retired racing greyhound, it’s unlikely that they’ll have seen a massive body of water, such as a lake or ocean until they came into your life.
Racing greyhounds spend most of their lives in kennels and wouldn’t need to know how to swim. If your greyhound is unsure, you’ll need to take small steps to build up their confidence.
One way to get them to like water is to provide treats when they go near or go in the water.
They’ll start to associate the sensation of standing in water with something good and will naturally gravitate towards the water with the expectation that they get treats.
Lead By Example
Your dog trusts you. You’re part of their pack, and they want to keep you safe and will normally follow you anywhere. Greyhounds are loving and affectionate dogs who get anxious when they’re away from you.
All you need to do is show them that water is a good thing, and they’ll follow your lead. If you go into the ocean and call them, they’ll follow you in.
Try not to show any reluctance or fear when you enter the water, your greyhound will pick up on it and be put off. If they see you having a good time, they’ll want to be involved.
If your greyhound really doesn’t like water, it’s probably going to take longer than a day to get them used to the idea. You’ll need to be patient and take baby steps.
If your greyhound dislikes water, you’ll need to start small. Turn on the hose or sprinklers in your backyard and allow them to approach it in their own time.
Start to play around with the water yourself to show that there’s nothing to be afraid of. Using the hose as a game will help remove the fear and will get them used to the sensation of being wet.
Never spray your greyhound directly with the hose though, this may be seen as a punishment and will make the situation worse.
Next stop is bath time. Most dogs notoriously hate bath time, and greyhounds are no different. If you want your dog to like water, you’ll need to remove these negative connotations.
Let them take their toys in the bath and spend some time playing with them, treating them when they’re good. They’ll soon start to see the bath as a positive experience.
If you have a pool at your home, it’s an excellent opportunity to make pool time part of your daily routine. If not, a trip to the local dog pool will help to introduce your dog gradually.
It’s best to have a pool with steps rather than ladders, as you’ll be able to walk progressively down with them into the water, allowing them to get used to it at each stage.
However, some dogs fear stairs – it‘s unclear why- but the stairs into the pool may actually put them off.
If you notice that your greyhound is paying more attention to the stairs than to the water, you should try the other end of the pool.
Once your dog is confident in your pool, lakes are a great place for them to enjoy the water with their friends. Meeting other dogs who love water will boost their confidence and push them to be bolder.
If your greyhound is out in open water, it’s a good idea to fit them with a floatation vest to ensure they’re safe.
Don’t move on to letting them in the ocean until you’re confident that they’re good at swimming. Currents can quickly sweep a dog away if you’re not careful.
How To Teach Your Greyhound To Swim
Some doggy training centers or rehab centers are equipped with a pool specifically for strengthening a dog’s muscles or for swim training.
The pools are long and thin, allowing you to support our greyhound’s weight using a vest while they practice their swimming technique.
Even if your dog has never been in the water before, they instinctively paddle, which can quickly develop into a proper doggy paddle with patience and practice.
Once you’re confident that your greyhound can keep themselves above water, you can release your hold gradually, allowing them to swim on their own.
Because greyhounds aren’t very buoyant, they may always need a floatation vest to keep their heads above water.
This isn’t true of all greyhounds, so it’ll be up to you to decide whether they can cope without one based on their swimming technique.
Floatation vests are just like life jackets. They wrap around your greyhound’s body and clip under their chin and belly to keep them secure.
That means that your greyhound doesn’t have to focus on staying afloat; they just need to paddle in the right direction.
This can make swimming much more enjoyable for them, and you’ll feel better knowing they’re safe. A floatation vest will also help keep your greyhound warm in colder water, meaning they won’t tire as quickly.
Why Might Your Greyhound Be Afraid Of Water
Lack of Experience
If your dog wasn’t given a chance to experiment with water at a young age, it’s much more difficult to introduce them to it later.
Ex-racers often won’t have experienced large bodies of water, and it can appear daunting to them the first time. Puppies are more fearless and less consequence-oriented, so they’re likely to accept water more readily.
Having other dogs in the water at the same time as your greyhound can put them off, especially if they aren’t confident. Splashing can look quite scary if they don’t know what’s happening.
Equally though, if you have another dog who isn’t willing to go in the water, your greyhound will follow suit, trusting their opinion.
If you don’t like water, your dog might not either. Dogs can sense your fear, and if you’re unsure of something when you’re near water, they’ll be put off too, thinking that it’s something to be afraid of.
Fish Or Other Animals
If you’re in a large body of water, your greyhound might be put off by the things in the water.
Although some dogs might be curious about fish or frogs, greyhounds are a naturally anxious breed, and it only takes one fish to brush up against their leg for them to panic and run.
On the other hand, birds, such as ducks or moorhens, may encourage your greyhound’s chase instinct, making the water an exciting place.
A Previous Experience
It only takes one bad experience to put your greyhound off. And if you adopted them later in life, you’ll never know what their experience was. It could be anything from a forceful bath time to a goose chase gone wrong.
The best way to overcome this is to try different water types and see which one sparks a reaction. It’s often not the water itself that’s the problem, but instead, it’s the situation that reminds them of a previous experience.
Once you’ve discovered the root cause, take baby steps to put it right. Be patient and don’t expect them to overcome a fear in a day.
What Not To Do When Teaching A Greyhound To Swim
If you’ve tried all the above steps and your greyhound still isn’t confident with water, the worst thing you can do is force them. At the end of the day, it’s not necessary for them to be able to swim.
Forcing them will only highlight it as a negative experience and will likely scare them more. If they aren’t confident in the water, they might start to panic, which can have disastrous consequences.
Never go into deep water where your greyhound can’t touch the bottom if you aren’t confident that they can swim.
Although all dogs have an instinct to try to swim when they’re in the water, they also have the same fear drivers as people if they begin to sink. Panicking could make things worse and cause them to drown.
If your greyhound has recently been sick, is old, or is underweight for any reason, it’s not a good idea to allow them to enter the water. Greyhounds don’t have a lot of energy due to their fast metabolism.
They process any calories that they do eat incredibly quickly, meaning they need to sleep for most of the day to recover their strength.
If you’re at all worried that your greyhound won’t be at their maximum health or have enough strength to swim a long distance, it’s not worth the risk, even with a floatation vest.
Leave Them Alone
NEVER leave your greyhound alone in the water. Because they don’t have the body type to cope by themselves for long periods, you need to ensure that they don’t go too far away from the shore or the side of your pool.
If they start to drift too far out of reach, call them back with a treat to prevent them from putting themselves in danger.
So yes, greyhounds do usually love water, just like any other dog. However, they’re not bred to be in the water for long periods. They can get cold and may run out of energy quickly.
Take small steps to build up their swimming technique and never leave them alone in the water.