Can Jack Russells Swim?

By John Martin - January 26, 2022

Jack Russell swimming

Summer will soon be upon us. If you’re looking for a good way to make the best of the hot weather with your Jack Russell, swimming is a great option.

As the owner of a Jack Russell, you might be wondering if they can swim at all. We have put together a complete guide to everything you need to know about the Jack Russell’s swimming ability.

Do Jack Russells Know How to Swim?

Jack Russells are native to England, but they’re one of the most popular dog breeds in America. If you are looking to adopt or buy a Jack Russell and you plan on going swimming with your pet, you need to know if they know how to swim.

Well, most Jack Russell Terriers are actually amazing natural swimmers. However, every dog has a different personality.

Not every Jack Russell will be a keen swimmer. Dogs that don’t have a good introduction to water generally dislike swimming all their lives.

There are various ways to get your Jack Russell accustomed to water and swimming. If you introduce them to water in a safe and fun way, they are bound to become avid swimmers who love being in the water.

Do Jack Russells Love Water?

Every dog’s love for water depends on its personality. Some love being in the water, while others don’t.

Jack Russells are no different. Most of them adore splashing around in the water and can even be found cooling off in the pool if you happen to have one in your home. But the same can’t be said for every Jack Russell.

Since they were bred as hunting dogs, they are energetic, smart and very eager to learn new skills.

You can try and find out your pup’s reaction to water by tossing a ball in the water and asking them to fetch it. Keep a close eye on your pooch to make sure it doesn’t drown.

If your Jack Russell does swim, it does not necessarily mean that he loves swimming. Some dogs swim along with their owners simply because they want to be with them, not because they like being in the water or enjoy swimming.

Observe your dog’s attitude around water. Is he excited to jump into the pool or only enters because he’s following you?

If he is eager to jump into the pool and will jump in for no reason, you can deduce that he likes being in the water.

Also Read: Are Jack Russells Cuddly?

Why Doesn’t My Jack Russell Like Swimming?

You might adopt a Jack Russell pup expecting to have a new swimming partner, only to find out that they hate being in the pool.

It can be very disappointing as a pet owner, especially if you were looking forward to swimming together. Identifying the reasons behind their reluctance might help you deal with the issue.

Here are a few possible reasons your Jack Russell doesn’t like the water:

  • No Proper Introduction to Water: A proper, positive introduction to water in the early years is very important for dogs. If they don’t have a positive experience the first time, they are likely to develop a lifelong fear of water.

    Swimming needs to be introduced as a fun and rewarding activity. They need lots of motivation and encouragement, otherwise, they can develop a negative attitude towards this unfamiliar new experience.

  • Traumatic Experiences in Water: This is a common occurrence among older dogs. If your dog has had a previously unpleasant experience involving water, they are not likely to enjoy swimming in their adulthood.

    If your Jack Russell is adopted and you don’t know much about their life history, it is possible that their fear of water is due to past trauma.

    Dogs that have almost drowned, were dropped into water, got mistreated near water or lost someone they loved in water will be extremely reluctant to go near water.

    It is understandable that these kinds of experiences can make it very tough for a dog to develop a positive attitude towards swimming.

  • Initial Nerves: If this is your Jack Russell’s first interaction with water and he seems a little anxious, it might just be initial nervousness.

    It doesn’t necessarily mean that your pooch hates the water. Some dogs simply need a little time to get used to being in the water, even after a good first introduction to it.

    If you throw a ball into the water for your dog to fetch and he looks reluctant to get in the pool, do not give up immediately. Be patient and keep trying to get him in water with motivation and encouragement.

    Even humans get nervous while trying something for the first time. Your dog will probably get over its initial anxiety over time, depending on how well you handle the situation.

Benefits of Swimming for Jack Russells

There are several mental and physical benefits of learning how to swim. However, you should definitely train your Jack Russell to swim.

Even though most Jack Russells instinctively know how to swim, you can’t be sure of how they will react in an untoward situation. If they suddenly fall into the water, they might drown if they aren’t properly trained to swim.

Conversely, if your pup does know how to swim and enjoys being in the water, he might jump into any body of water he sees. If you train him properly, he will be much safer in and around water.

Here are some benefits of swimming for Jack Russells:

  • Safety: You never know when an accident might happen, so it is important to be prepared for any situation. If your pup is not accustomed to being in the water and falls into it suddenly, the shock can cause it to drown. Even if it doesn’t drown, it will surely be a traumatic experience that affects their behavior throughout their life. It is better to be safe than sorry, so make sure your Jack Russell learns how to swim if you want him to be safe.
  • Good for Health: Jack Russells are hunting dogs and need a lot of activity and exercise to stay fit. It is a good cardiovascular activity and helps with blood circulation too. It can prevent obesity, reduce the risk of heart problems and improve their overall health.
  • Curb Negative Behavior: Untrained Jack Russells often exhibit negative or aggressive behavior. Teaching them to swim can help curb this behavior.
    Swimming can help calm them down. If they enjoy it, it can even be used as a tool for further training.
  • Use Excess Energy: Jack Russells are a very energetic dog breed. If they don’t get suitable outlets for their energy, they can turn destructive. Swimming is a great way to help your Jack Russell get rid of excess energy. It is beneficial for their mental and physical health.
  • Respite from Heat: If you live in an area with very hot summers, taking your Jack Russell swimming is a great way to help them cool down.
  • Enjoyment: If your dog develops the right attitude towards swimming, he will have a ton of fun in the water. It is an amazing way to blow off steam and relax.

How to Introduce Swimming to Your Jack Russell

First of all, observe your pup’s reaction to water. If he seems comfortable being around water, you can start slowly introducing swimming.

You need shallow water in a calm environment. A kiddy pool in your backyard works great.

Start by dipping your dog’s feet in the water. Once he gets used to it, let him walk and splash around in the water.

Once your dog starts enjoying his time in the shallow pool, it is time to progress to deeper waters. You can go to the beach or a deeper swimming pool. Consider a dog life jacket to keep your dog from drowning. Keep him on a leash at first to make sure he doesn’t get too far from you.

Now, encourage and motivate him to get into the water. You can help him by putting your hand under his belly and guiding him through the water.

Once he gets used to it, he should start paddling his legs on his own. Keep supporting him till he gets the hang of it and your Jack Russell will be swimming on his own in no time.

Tips to Make Swimming Safe for Your Jack Russell

Here are a few tips to make swimming a safe experience for your Jack Russell:

  • Always be within reach of your dog. If anything unexpected happens, he won’t be able to control himself. If your dog seems to be in distress, take him out of the water immediately.
  • If you are swimming in a natural body of water, always check the temperature of the water and the strength of the water before you let your dog in.
  • Make sure your dog drinks water before and after swimming. Intense physical activity will dehydrate them and you don’t want them to drink the pool water out of thirst.
  • Always dry your dog’s ears after swimming. Dogs are prone to ear infections and leaving the ears wet will only invite trouble in the future.
  • If you have a pool in the house or live near a body of water, you should definitely teach your dog the ‘get out’ command. It can come in handy in many situations and will help you control your dog more effectively.
  • You need a lot of patience to teach your dog how to swim. Swimming is a completely new concept for dogs and it takes time for them to get used to the idea of moving around in water instead of land.
  • If you are taking your dog on a boat, they must know how to swim. If your dog isn’t comfortable being in the water, it is not a good idea to take them on a boat trip.

    Also, make sure there is a ramp for your pup to easily enter and exit the boat.

Wrapping Up

Most Jack Russells adore swimming. However, they need to have a good introduction to water and a positive swimming experience while growing up to ensure they are good swimmers in their adulthood. Introduce water in a safe and fun way to your pooch and he will be swimming like a fish in no time at all!