Leonbergers and waterwork

Leonbergers and waterwork

Life As A Pet Parent

Leonbergers are renowned for their love of water and there is nothing they enjoy more than splashing around in it, no matter what the weather. In short, living with a Leo that does not like getting their feet wet is rare. As such, a lot of owners realise that the best way of keeping their canine companions happy, is to get them involved in any activity that's based around being in the water while being trained to do some amazing things. Leonbergers are super intelligent and apart from being happy in the water, they also love to please.

Water training and Leonbergers

Not only is taking part in waterwork with a dog that loves getting wet a great way of channeling a natural ability that is deeply embedded in their psyche, but it is also a wonderful way of getting to know other Leonberger owners and dogs too. In short, it's a great way of socialising both dogs and owners while at the same time taking part in some fun activities on the water. The training is highly enjoyable and for those who like taking part in challenges, there are specific tests which rate how a dog (and owner) is doing.

Most water training centres lend out all the equipment needed to take part in water training which includes a wetsuit for owners and dog harnesses for their Leonberger companions. Life vests are also a must wear when taking part in water training, but the great thing is that this allows owners to see if they enjoy the activities before going out to invest in their own equipment.

Dogs are trained to swim out and rescue people who fall out of boats on a lake and Leos get to work with lots of different people apart from their owners which is a wonderful way of getting them used to be handled by strangers. This makes a dog more confident and outgoing when they are around people they don't already know in all sorts of different situations.

The different tests""

There are typically several tests organised in water training which are all geared to form the building blocks of a Leonbergers education. The five sections are from A to E with beginning being ""A"" and the more challenging test being ""E"" with a Leo needing to go and rescue a stranger who has fallen in the water at test level ""C"". This can be a big ask because it involves asking a dog to swim away from their owners to get to someone they don’t know. It takes a lot of practice for both owner and dog to understand and do what is asked of them.

Section ""D"" trains a dog to carry an item in their mouths as they swim out to a boat and for any Leonberger that enjoys a game of ""fetch"", it's an activity they really enjoy because it combines being in the water with a favourite pass time which is retrieving a specific toy.

Basic skills a Leo learns

As previously mentioned, Leonbergers are highly intelligent and therefore they learn new things quickly. There are basic skills that a dog would need to be taught before taking part in water training and this includes the following:

  • To swim with people without trying to climb on them or paw at them and to remain calm throughout
  • To fetch specific items from the water at varying distances which can be as far as 30 metres away from the shore
  • To fetch people from the water at varying distances which can be as far as 30 metres away from the shore
  • Leos need to be taught to retrieve specific items when commanded which involves teaching a dog to differentiate what items they are asked to retrieve and the same applies to the command to fetch/retrieve a person
  • Dogs should be taught to swim alongside an owner staying 2 metres away from their heads, but not too close which could encourage them to climb on them which could interrupt a person's swimming strokes. Dogs need to be taught when to turn left and right while swimming which is much like heelwork in water
  • Dogs need to learn how to retrieve a rope that is underwater which can be as much as 20 cm and then to bring the rope to an owner or handler
  • Dogs must be taught to sit calmly on an inflatable boat and then learn how to jump out of it before towing it back to shore. They would also be taught how to rescue a person who may have fallen out of the boat. At the very highest level of a test, a Leo would be asked to take the rope of a drifting boat to a stranger on another boat


Sharing a home with an intelligent Leonberger is very rewarding because they are such amenable and reliable dogs. Making the most of their natural abilities is a great way of training a Leo while at the same time allowing them to do something they adore, namely paddling and swimming while at the same time retrieving items they are asked to.


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