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catch you. Be sure you are in a stable craft so you can pluck the youngster from the water and reward it without tipping over. If possible, get in the water once the pup is swimming.

Once the pup begins to swim, whether it's the first trip to water or the fifth, start throwing a small retrieving dummy for short, five to ten foot retrieves. Don't overdo it and do quit while everything is still fun. Gradually, over a span of three to five sessions, lengthen the retrieves. Meet the pup at the shoreline to accept the retrieves, gradually moving back during the next few sessions. This can help prevent the pup from dropping the dummy to shake water from its coat.

More formal water training can be pursued once the introduction is complete. Remember to get in the water with your dog!

Other considerations:
1.) Try to avoid beaches and other places where there are a lot of people to distract your youngster.
2.) Weeds, large rocks, stumps, and other debris in the water may distract or even frighten a young dog.
3.) Don't put decoys in the water during the introduction phase. Tangles may turn a young dog off to water permanently.
4.) Large waves can frighten even a more experienced dog.
5.) If your pup loves to retrieve, you can throw a dummy into the shallows for retrieves. When pup is excited about shallow retrieves, throw the dummy so the pup has to swim a stroke or two to get it.
6.) Just because your dog is supposed to be a water dog, don't assume it will automatically retrieve from water. Use a proper introduction.
7.) Get in the water with your dog!

Don Smail has been actively training and field trialing English Springer Spaniels for over two decades. He is a member of the Northeast Wisconsin Spaniel Club and resides near Wausau.

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