Australian Shepherds are some of the fiercest workers in the world. In fact, they’re happiest when they’re herding livestock. But when they’re not working, do they enjoy other activities such as swimming? And if so, do Australian Shepherds actually like water?
Because Australian Shepherds weren’t bred to be water dogs, some will enjoy being in water and others won’t. Similar to humans, dogs have preferences too. However, from our online survey, we know that most Australian Shepherd owners agree their dog loves to play in water.
There are a lot of factors that can determine whether your dog loves to play in water. For example, an Aussie that’s frequently exposed to water early on is more likely to enjoy it. But why take my word for it? Here are 27 real Australian Shepherd owners and their take on this question.
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Does Your Australian Shepherd Like Water?
Note: All these answers are from real Aussie owners found in forums, blog comments and Reddit around the web. Some of the answers have been reworded, but intention and meaning still remain. If you have something to add, leave a comment below!
1. Submitted by zensnapple No
I take my two [Australian Shepherds] to the river from time to time, and they seem to have an aversion to the water. One will go in belly deep and sometimes dog paddle around for 30 seconds, the other will rarely go in belly deep, even if I’m out in the water coaxing him in. They both know how to swim, I’ve seen them do it before, but they’re very apprehensive about it.
2. Submitted by anonymous Yes
We have an Australian Shepherd and he loves water! When we open the gate to the pool he jumps in before we can stop him.
3. Submitted by booksaboutthesame – Yes
Mine LOVES to swim! I got him into it by going out in the water myself & getting him to come to me — “well if mom’s out there it must be okay…”
4. Submitted by cpersall – Yes
My younger aussie loves it, my older one prefers to go wading but will swim if I toss a treat or ball. It seems like some dogs just love it and others arent a fan.
Lots of rewards, encouragement to swim out a couple feet for a treat and getting in the water with the dog can help. But some just are happier playing at the edge.
5. Submitted by Maria – Maybe
I have 2 Aussies, sisters, almost 2 years old now. One of them loves the water…. She will jump in, fetch a ball or whatever and swim right back…. Her sister, is not at all like that. However, she will still get in with a little encouragement.
6. Submitted by webelos8 – Yes
My younger one [loved] swimming. She’d also drink [water from] whatever she was swimming in (lake, pool etc.).
7. Submitted by schleppenheimer – Yes
Just took my [Australian Shepherd] to the beach for the first time a couple of weeks ago. While he enjoyed it … he was not inclined to go much further in than to get his legs wet.
8. Submitted by passapassa – Yes
My Aussie goes into our pool anytime he wants to cool off. He makes a few circles around and then gets on out. It’s quite cute.
9. Submitted by pduarelia – Yes
My [Australian Shepherd] went for a nice hike and swim [today]. He looks so proud of himself…
10. Submitted by aussiebean143 – Yes
All of our Aussies are avid water dogs.
11. Submitted by foonashaluna – Yes
When our older girl was a pup, we took her to the lake and she LAUNCHED herself into it. We had a hard time getting her out, and she only agreed to come back to shore when she was out of energy (long, long time).
However, her sister-from-another-litter, who follows her everywhere, doesn’t take to swimming but will wade a little.
12. Submitted by gbt1215 – Yes
We can’t keep our [Aussie] Ellie out of the water!
13. Submitted by conceitedpolarbear – Yes
My Aussie is like a fish! He’s so buoyant he can swim with me for like an hour because he can just float! I have to keep him away from the lake during winter time because he’ll dive right in…
14. Submitted by onextendedwings – No
One of our Aussies waded but never swam, and the other won’t even dip his feet. But our Aussie/Kelpie mix is a little swimming fiend!
15. Submitted by sbcr1 – Yes
Ours loves water, and can swim, but doesn’t voluntarily go out of her depth.
16. Submitted by aikotheaussie – Yes
My [Australian Shepherd] absolutely LOVES to swim too! We always go to the beach and she follows me into the ocean and swims with me. Tt’s the cutest thing ever.
17. Submitted by woupsea – No
My [Aussie named] gypsy isn’t a big fan of swimming, but she’ll follow me into the water when the waves aren’t too crazy. If the water is choppy she gets scared of the waves bumping into her.
18. Submitted by may2bl – Maybe
Our Aussie loves the lake, but will NOT get in a pool. Can’t explain this one.
19. Submitted by themisadventuresofme – Yes
Somebody told me Aussies aren’t big swimmers, but Oli can’t get enough of it! It’s roughly a 10 minute walk to the beach and my Aussie pulls the leash until we’re close enough for him to be off and swim freely!
20. Submitted by dfn85 – Yes
I have an Aussie, and my aunt has two, along with an Aussie/Border Collie mix. They all LOVE water.
21. Submitted by alabama_hotpocket – Yes
Every Aussie I’ve ever met loves swimming! And that’s saying something, since my dad started our Aussie line in the 60’s.
22. Submitted by deathbyart – Yes
My Aussie will jump into any body of water. Even when she’s not suppose to – like when I bring her to visit my folks and you hear a random splash. That was her jumping into their pool.
23. Submitted by regen_geneticist – No[My Australian Shepherd] certainly doesn’t like water. She holds on for dear life. Not a big fan of canoes, either.
24. Submitted by piratefight – Yes[My Aussie] loves swimming. However, he tries to herd me while I’m in the water. So whenever I go in, he comes after me. Had to get him a life jacket now I let him do whatever [he wants].
25. Submitted by erica26g – No
Stanley our 6 month old Aussie is TERRIFIED of water. Today i was outside with him, and even though he had a water bowl, I thought maybe I would use the light misting setting on the hose and cool him off a bit. Bad idea; he freaked out
26. Submitted by rectal_anakonda – No
Our 8 year old [Australian Shepherd] really dislikes water, as in, he’d rather stays inside if its raining. And he will just give me a look like I was stupid if I throw the ball [into the] lake.
27. Submitted by howcomehedontloveme – Yes
My Aussie loves water but she’s not brave enough to swim yet. Last time she accidentally went in too deep, so she had to swim. But she cried all the way back to safe shore.
Out of 27 real Aussie owners, 18 people say their dogs enjoy playing in water. There were 3 owners that had mixed reviews – where one Aussie liked playing in water while the other didn’t. Another owner said her Australian Shepherds loves the lake but not the pool.
And according to 6 others owners, their Australian Shepherd does not like water. It’s a small sample size, but based on the limited feedback, we can probably assume that most Aussies will enjoy playing in water. But there’s really only one way to find out – take them out for a swim!
Introducing an Australian Shepherd to Water
If after reading these answers and you want to try giving your Aussie a go at water, it’s important to ease them in. This is especially true if your dog has never seen or experienced water before (outside of baths and a drinking bowl).
Just because your Aussie likes to play with water from a hose doesn’t really mean they’ll enjoy jumping into a body of water. That said, here are tips from owners on how to get your dog to love water. Or at the very least, ease them in and give them a good first experience with water.
Owner Tips: Getting Them In Water
One owner suggests throwing the dog’s favorite (waterproof) toys into the water just to see if they’ll go in and retrieve the toy. She says her dog loves playing fetch – but only when theres water involved.
Some suggests using peer pressure, such as setting up a dog party with a pool. If other dogs are enjoying their time playing in water, the Aussie may notice. In no time, your dog will probably be in the pool before he/she even realizes it.
Yusaf reiterates this method by explaining how his Aussie followed his Labrador Retriever friend into the water. It wasn’t long before they were both frolicking in the lake.
Reddit user boymayor started by swimming in his pool while his Aussie was hanging around the yard. His dog started to get closer until she took her first step in. After she became more comfortable with her feet in the shallow steps of the pool, he pulled her in and swam with her.
A user named thinmints1986 also recommended going in the water first. As your Aussie sees you having a great time in the water, it’ll definitely pique their interest.
Here’s What Worked For Me
While some Aussies are natural water-lovers, others are not. The best method to test this out is to throw a toy, such as a ball, into the water and see if the dog jumps in. If not, you (the owner) should get in and see if your dog follows.
The most important thing is to not force your Australian Shepherd into water. Doing so can cause a lot of stress and make their view on water even worse going forward. Here’s a step by step plan for introducing your Aussie to water.
1. Start at an area with shallow water. It’s a good idea to get their feet wet first, literally. Don’t expect all dogs to be able to jump in and start swimming immediately. Although Aussies have been known to do this, you just never know.
2. Go into shallow water and observe what they do. Often times, they’ll follow you to the shallow end. It’s important to remain patient and never force them in, no matter how shallow.
3. If your Australian Shepherd comes, give them positive reinforcement. This can mean either delicious dog treats or positive praise. Make sure they know it’s good to get in the water.
4. Play with your Aussie in the shallow end. Spend some time playing with your dog in the shallow end of the water. This may take some time getting used to, but they’ll eventually get comfortable.
5. Keep playing, but slowly move towards deeper water. This works best if you have some kind of toy to play with your Aussie. Slowly move towards deeper waters but retrace if they’re not willing to enter.
6. Continue encouragement and praise every time they move closer to deeper water. By no time, they’ll be dog paddling in the water with ease and a lot of excitement (hopefully).
7. Repeat the process. Not all Australian Shepherds will be completely comfortable the first time around. And if you’re adamant about playing in the water with your Aussie, you may need to be persistent.
If they’re starting out, it’s probably a good idea not to spend too much time in the water in a single session. Always take lots of breaks and move back to land.
Why Swimming is Good for Aussies
The one thing Australian Shepherd owners are most surprised about is the amount of energy these dogs have. Bred as herding dogs, they have a surplus of energy – all time time.
And unless you have a large yard and can spend a sizable amount of time playing with them, it’ll be difficult to fully satisfy their physical needs. So, why is swimming such a great activity for Australian Shepherds?
Simply put, they’re able to burn off a ton of energy by swimming. It can be exhausting swimming for long periods of time. However, Australian Shepherds seem to do it with little problem. It’s part of the reason why so many Aussies love swimming.
I’m not saying that all Aussies need to go swimming, but it’s a fantastic alternative to frisbee, long walks and running.
The thing about Australian Shepherds is that, without enough exercise, they can exhibit some destructive behavior. If you don’t want them to run circles around you in the house, or worse, run away from home, explore other options for exercise.
Hope you enjoyed this and happy swimming!
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