My dog doesn’t use his back legs when swimming

Question: My dog doesn’t use his back legs when swimming.

Answer: Good question! I was horrified when I first started back in 1996 and noticed that probably 50% of dogs don’t use their back legs in water…. And then I remembered the dog paddle – – – remember when you were a little kid and you learned how to dog paddle? That’s strictly a front arm paddle…

Since nearly 80% of the dogs who come to see me in spa are coming for some kind of back half injury or rehab question, this is an important question to resolve.

In the gait of swimming, the front feet are for direction and swimming and the back legs are for propulsion. So if your dog likes to retrieve toys in water, you’ll see he will use his back legs when powering out to the toy. If your dog wants to get out of the pool, then he’ll use his back legs when powering to the exit steps.

We find what motivates and build a program that will suit our goals.

Often we have dogs like sweet 15 year old Emma who just swims with all 4 corners naturally – see Emma swim: