Do St Bernards like water? And can St Bernards swim? These are the everyday questions that thousands of St Bernards enthusiasts ask.
These questions are quite logical, given the Saint Bernards’ size (height of 25-35 inches and weight of 54-82 kgs).
Their dense double coat and moderate energetic nature also make it quite impossible not to question their swimming ability.
So if you have adopted this gentle, watchful, and affectionate dog and you can’t help but question its love for water and its ability to swim, then read on as I got you covered through this article.
I will provide you with an accurate and straightforward answer concerning this dog breed’s love for the water and ability to swim.
Do St Bernards Like Water?
Yes, Saint Bernards like water.
This dog breed will not hesitate to take a dip with you or play in the rain, as long as you let it!
Can St Bernards Swim?
Yes, St Bernards can swim after being adequately trained to do so at a young age.
Their heavyweight, easy fatiguability, and dense double coat may make it hard for these obedient, loyal, friendly, and workaholic dogs to swim efficiently.
However, with adequate and professional training, this intelligent dog breed can easily grasp its swimming training quickly.
Having your St Bernard engage in swimming at least 3-4 times a week will be of immense benefit to it.
How Can I Teach My St Bernard To Swim?
#Choose An Ideal Location
Choosing an ideal location that is convenient and comfortable for both you and your dog is of immense importance as it will determine your dog’s receptiveness to its swimming training.
Consider using your bathtub (if it’s large enough and your Saint is still a pup). Just make sure to place an anti-slippery mat in it to prevent your dog from sliding.
Also, make sure that your hound doesn’t have any fleas or ticks on its skin before training it how to swim in your bathtub. You can also use a kiddie inflatable pool.
Pro-tip; Ensure that you place your kiddie inflatable pool in a stable and level ground that has sunlight and is also shielded from excessive wind.
After teaching it the basic swimming skills, advance to a larger water body, like slow-moving and shallow rivers or a dog-safe swimming pool.
Extra tip; Places to avoid when choosing the best swimming training location for your Saint Bernard include;
Water canals and reservoirs, fast-moving rivers, and stagnant water bodies that contain algae.
#Have Someone Help You Out
This tip works best if you are training an adult St Bernard to swim or it’s your first time to train a dog how to swim.
Saint Bernards can be pretty heavy, especially when they are adults. And it’s factual that heavy dogs tend to sink faster than lighter dogs.
So having someone help you out (preferably a pro) will not only make it easy for you and your dog but will also help prevent unprecedented accidents from occurring.
#Let Your Dog Get Used To The Idea Of Getting Wet By Leash Walking On Shores
Despite Saint Bernards having a soft spot for water, not all of them enjoy getting wet.
So, if your hound happens to fall into this category, then let it get used to the idea of getting wet first.
You can do this by leash walking it on safe shores or in slow-moving waters.
Just make sure you make the experience fun and memorable; this way, your dog will be looking forward to getting not only its feet but also its whole body wet.
#Entice And Encourage Your St Bernard To Get Inside The Water On Its Own
After successfully having your dog get used to getting wet, proceed to entice it and encourage it to get into the water on its own.
You can achieve this by; using treats (which should be soft and chewy), placing floatable, waterproof, and dog-safe toys on the water, or by praising your dog.
Having a friend bring their dog who knows how to swim will also entice your Saint Bernard to get inside the water on its own.
#Help It Get Better At Its Doggie Paddling
Help your Saint Bernard get better at paddling. You can do this by holding it underneath its abdomen.
Make sure that you are in a position that doesn’t obstruct its paddling.
Always makes sure that you also have [amazon link=”B0081XIK4Q” title=”a life jacket” link_icon=”amazon” /] on when physically supporting your Saint Bernard.
Please repeat this step until you feel comfortable that your dog can paddle on its own.
Slowly let it go, but don’t make it obvious that it is paddling on its own, as this may cause it to panic, which will consequently make it water phobic or relapse on its training.
#Train It How To Enter And Exit Its Swimming Area Safely
Ensure that you adequately train your dog how to enter and exit its swimming area.
Always use the same exit and entry to avoid confusing your St Bernard.
Make it easy for your dog by placing a ramp on the shallow end of a pool.
#Proof To Reinforce Your St Bernard’s Training
After successfully training your Saint Bernard to swim, prove its swimming ability by taking it to a different swimming area.
Make sure to always research on its new swimming environment before physically taking it there.
Do this for at least 1 month, with each week taking it to a new place at least 3-4 times in a week.
9 Swimming Safety Tips For Your St Bernard
#Always Keep A Close Watch On Your St Bernard
Saint Bernards get extremely excited when doing something they like.
And since swimming or playing in or with water is usually on their top to-do list, this means that they can get overly excited when doing so.
So, make sure that you always have an eye on what they are doing during a swimming session.
Also, due to their large size and moderate energetic levels, these dogs tend to tire fast.
This makes it paramount that you never leave your Saint Bernard unsupervised since they may be unable to exit or continue paddling while in water.
#Never Let Your Dog Go Swimming Without A Life Jacket On
A life jacket is an essential swimming kit for both you and your dog.
Not only will this floatation device make it easy to train your dog, but it will also prevent it from drowning and also make your St Bernard visible when it’s swimming.
Pro-tip; Always countercheck that your dog’s life jacket is in a good shape (still buoyant) each time you are about to go out for a dip.
#Never Assume That Your Dog Is A Natural Swimmer
Please do NOT assume that your St Bernard is a natural swimmer and leave it on its own during a swimming session.
Note, dogs, just like humans, have different abilities and capabilities when it comes to performing various activities, like swimming.
So, if you once owned or still own a dog who is a natural when it comes to swimming, don’t assume that your other canine companion will also be a natural.
#Never Ignore Weather Advisories
Please don’t take a weather advisory lightly, or ignore it.
Remember your dog’s safety starts with you. So be sure to keep off water bodies and even outdoors if a weather warning has been issued.
#Never Force Or Throw Your Doggie Into The Water
Just like all dog breeds, Saint Bernards have the potential to become strong-willed and even aggressive when forced to do something they find unacceptable to them.
So NEVER force or throw your hound inside the water. You risk having a defiant, aggressive, or socially traumatized St Bernard if you do this.
Extra tip; Create a situation that makes your doggy want to go inside the water. You can do this by taking it to a dog swimming pool and letting it watch other dogs swim.
Alternatively, you can arrange a swimming date for your Saint Bernard with another dog who knows how to swim.
Just make sure that the dog you bring to your home is vaccinated to date and is adequately socialized.
#Always Keep Your Dog’s Coat And General Health In Mind
Your Saint Bernard’s coat is of essential importance as it not only keeps its temperature regulated but it also protects it from the damaging UV light, which may predispose it to skin cancer.
So, make that you apply a dog-safe sunscreen on your St Bernard’s coat 15 minutes before going out for a plunge. Use a brush to ensure that the sunscreen adequately penetrates its undercoat.
Remember also to have your vet prescribe your doggy preventive medications and vaccines. This will help prevent your dog from getting water-borne diseases.
Pup tip; Make sure to give your hound its preventive medication at least an hour before mealtime. This ensures maximal absorption of the drug.
#Ensure That Your Hound Is Sufficiently Hydrated And Fed
Always provide your hound with enough clean water and food before going out for a swimming session.
A properly fed and hydrated dog will not drink or eat anything in its swimming area.
Since swimming needs high energy levels, be sure to feed your doggy with foods rich in proteins.
Proteins take more time to digest; this means that your dog will have enough energy to last them throughout the entire swimming session.
Always feed your hound an hour before going out for a swim.
#Never Leave Without Your Pet’s First Aid Kit
Accidents are sometimes inevitable, especially in a swimming environment.
So make sure that you never leave without your pet’s first aid kit.
Make sure that it is packed with; clean and absorbent gauzes, sterilized scissors, antibiotic cream, and a dog-safe disinfectant (I recommend you always have chlorhexidine).
#Always Give Your Doggie A Post-Swim Care
A post-swim care entails everything done to groom your doggy after a swimming session.
Bathe it with a dog-safe shampoo, dry it with a dog hair blow dryer, and brush it with a soft, firm, and rounded bristled brush.
What Are The Benefits Of Swimming For St Bernards?
Below are some of the benefits your St Bernard accrues when it engages in regular swimming sessions;
#Rehabilitation After A Surgery Or Physical Inactivity
Through swimming, your dog’s former physical and overall health after a surgery or a period of physical inactivity is rehabilitated(restored).
Saint Bernards who have underlying medical conditions that cause them pain like arthritis and joint dislocation get to therapeutically benefit through swimming.
#Enhances Your Hound’s Cardiovascular Health
Saint Bernards are predisposed to heart conditions such as dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM).
DCM causes your hound’s heart to become large and weak, which in turn makes it difficult for efficient blood pumping and circulation.
Through swimming, your dog’s heart muscles are strengthened.
This leads to an efficient pumping mechanism, which directly improves its cardiovascular health.
#Aids In Your St Bernard’s Weight Loss
A Saint Bernard’s moderate energetic nature predisposes it to being obese.
However, swimming enables your dog to lose weight and also maintain an ideal and healthy weight.
#Helps Deter Your St Bernard From Developing Unwanted Behaviors
Swimming lets your dog stay engaged. This, in turn, helps prevent it from developing unwanted behaviors such as excessive barking, biting, chewing on things, and jumping on people.
#Boosts Your Doggie’s Physical Fitness, Stamina, And Agility
Through swimming, all your dog’s muscles are worked out; this, in turn, boosts your dog’s physical fitness, stamina and agility.
St Bernards have a soft spot when it comes to their love for the water.
These dogs are also known to make prolific swimmers when adequately trained to swim at a young age.
Through swimming, your St Bernards rehabilitation after surgery or prolonged physical inactivity will be achieved at a fast rate.
Swimming is also beneficial, especially to senior St Bernards who have pain caused by arthritis, elbow, and hip dysplasia.
Your dog’s stamina, agility, and cardiovascular health will also be improved through swimming.
When training your St Bernard to swim, never throw it or force it to get inside the water; instead, entice it to get into the water by using treats and toys.
You can also have a friend bring in their adequately socialized and obedient dog who knows how to swim join you when training your doggie.
Never allow your hound to take a plunge without having a life jacket on. Never leave your hound unsupervised, even if it’s a prolific swimmer.
Train your dog on how to exit and enter the water safely. Make sure that your Saint is sufficiently hydrated and fed before you go out swimming.