My 9 1/2 month old pup, Mossy, will be doing her NAVHDA natural ability test in June. She jumped in a creek once when she was about 3 or 4 months old and swam a few feet back to shore when the bottom dropped out, but hasn't offered to swim since. She will get in and wade and splash about and loved her kiddy pool last summer, but hasn't actually swam. I was told not to worry about it, she would eventually swim, but with this test coming up and us being in North Dakota (everything is frozen over and COLD) I am starting to worry about it. So...I do have a neighbor that has a small indoor pool and he absolutely loves Mossy...maybe I should ask if she could come swimming? LOL, I'm pretty sure he would allow it and I don't *think* it would be detrimental to the pool. Also, dock dogs does an indoor competition here in February...should I just pay the entry fee and see if this could be good practice? I know she will go strong for the rest of the NA test...just worried about water?
I was worried about water as well with my GSP but here is what I did.
Biggest thing is wait for the ponds and lakes to thaw and warm up, your GSP wont enjoy swimming in ice cold water. Then get a good water dog or 2 and head out to the lake. The younger dog will see the other dogs in the water and wont want to be left behind. Id even put on a pair of hip or chest waders and get in yourself, though the water should be warm enough for you to put on your swim suit and jump in. This will really make the puppy want to get in.
If your dog has a strong retrieving instinct you can start with a few short throws into the water then slowly make them farther and farther.
Pools are not going to be a good idea because there is no shallow end, they are generally just a steep drop.
By the sounds of it he has no fear of actual water she is just unsure when she looses her footing. Exposure will be the biggest thing. I dont think you will have a problem time wise before your NA test. Just wait for everything to thaw and warm up then head out to the lakes.