Waukesha's Think Pawsitive teaches dogs to dive and swim

NOW: Waukesha’s Think Pawsitive teaches dogs to dive and swim

WAUKESHA, Wis. (CBS 58) -- Summer's nearly here. In Wisconsin that means time on, and in the water. If you've got a dog, dock diving may sound fun, but don't take it for granted that your dog can swim.

A couple of 80-degree April days meant playtime for Luna and Phoenix at Nagawicka lake in Waukesha county.

"She's a little bit more shy of the water, that's for sure," said Nathan chubbier, Luna & Phoenix's owner.

When the ball toss lands beyond their comfort zone, Luna and Phoenix say no way.

"They are gauging the water and where the water's actually dropping off," said Katie Oilschlager, Think Pawsitive dog training owner.

Trainers say it's a myth that dogs innately know how to swim. Flailing paws, or what's known as the doggie paddle, won't keep all afloat and drowning is a real possibility.

"If the dog's not acclimated to water it's not gonna.  Especially a little dog, they're gonna get fatigued and it potentially could happen," said Oilschlager.

Think Pawsitive's got a 40-foot dock attached to a 41-foot pool in Waukesha where dogs of all ages can get comfortable in the water and learn to dock dive.

"And so if they're just accidentally jumping off the boat, they're gonna do that puppy splashing and panic. So we want to teach them not to panic, to enjoy the water," said Oilschlager.

Dog dock diving, the sport, has been around for about 25 years.

"And we start with just little short jumps and once they got that, they've got the confidence to jump, we move them back further on our dock.  It's a very fun sport. All the dogs that love to chase their toy really, really love the sport of dock diving," said Oilschlager.

And for the beginners…

"Our big focus, to make sure that the back stays flat as they swim. Once they do then we can remove the life jacket and then they have confidence knowing how to use the proper mechanics of their body and continue that strength and conditioning to swim on their own without the life jacket," said Oilschlager.

No more life jackets for Gus and Charlie. They've been swimming at Think Pawsitive for years.

Owners say visiting is not only good for the dogs, it's good for them too.

"I may be a crab and then come here and because they're having fun, it takes that crabby mood away," said Linda Timm.

We asked Larry Ryan why he decided to not go with the old wives' tale and just throw his dog Henry in the water.

"Because someone did that to me (giggles) Didn't work (giggles)" said Ryan.

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