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Water Training


Scottish Water Training – 2023


Silver Sands, Aberdour, Fife - May 2023


The first Scottish Water training of 2023 was back in Silver Sands on a lovely sunny day. Silver Sands is a sheltered bay with plenty of parking and a great café. This was the first session being led by Richard Rogers. All the dogs and most of the owners were new to water training. Stef Fleming supported Richard to provide an enjoyable introduction to water training for all the partnerships as they worked to achieve Level 1.


After completion of the assessments, owners & their dogs had the opportunity to spend more time on the paddleboard and in the kayak. All of the participants enjoyed the day, with both dogs and handlers growing greatly in confidence over the session. 


Congratulations to:


Level 1 - Tidal

Brooke with Caroline

Diego with Ben

Honey with Maggi

Maggie with Lynne

Rona with Jim


Footdee, Aberdeen – June 2023


In June we headed to a new Water Training venue in Aberdeen.  Richard and Jacquie Rogers had checked out potential venues around the area and suggested the Footdee (Fittie) area of Aberdeen beach. Expectations for sunshine were low, however Aberdeen surprised us with a scorching day! The sunshine meant that the beach was busy, however the Fittie end was quiet and everyone managed to park okay. Richard Rogers led the training support by Stef whilst Jacquie Rogers attempted to keep them all organised.   


There was both Level 1 & Level 2 training at this session. Stef initially worked with the Level 1s whilst Richard worked with the Level 2 partnerships. The waves were a bit challenging for the dogs and the humans, however all worked really well and enjoyed the session.  Owners were delighted to meet other SWDs/owners, plans were made for future meet ups in the Aberdeen area and a wee insight to the breed was provided to a family who joined us on the beach as they were considering a SWD as a family pet.


Enzo, a Lagotto Romagnolo pup, came along to watch his SWD sister however we couldn’t leave him out of the fun and so he joined the Level 1 training.


Cassie & Honey achieved all aspects of level 2 on the day with the exception of the retrieve which was made tricky by the size of the waves.  Cassie was able to complete her Level 2 soon after the training session as Angela & Scott submitted a video covering the outstanding requirement.  Honey went on to complete Level 2 at the September session in Fife.

Congratulations to:

Level 1 - Tidal

Enzo with Angela

Spud with Emma

Stella with Paul

Yogi with Louise


Level 2 - Tidal

Cassie with Scott

Information on Remote Water Training Tests can be found on the SWD UK site

 SWD Club | Water Awards (


Silver Sands, Aberdour, Fife – September 2023


The final Scottish water training session of 2023 saw us back at Silver Sands and again we were lucky with the weather. The full Scottish training team was there, led by Kate Wilden with Richard Rogers & Stef Fleming providing support. Normally our sessions have run in the morning, however tides dictated an afternoon start this time.


To accommodate the range of training needs across 4 levels the afternoon was broken into 2 sessions. Kate initially focussed on Level 4 dogs, whilst Richard and Stef worked with the Level 2s.  All partnerships worked really well, enjoying the new challenges and successfully mastering the different elements of the assessment.  In the second session we only had 3 dogs – Theo, Level 1 & Noa, Level 3 who both did a great job with support from Richard & Stef. Theo’s mums plan to stay dry didn’t last long as she was soon in the kayak with a soggy Theo, whilst dad was on the paddleboard. The training team then got a chance to work with their own dogs with Richard working with Kate & Elma and Kate working with Stef & Luna to achieve their Level 3 and Level 4 Tidal awards respectively. The fun continued after completion of the assessments including Honey ‘rescuing’ Noa who was on the paddleboard.   



Congratulations to:

Rosi & Karen on their progress towards gaining confidence in water, as well as

Brooke & Caroline on their good progress towards Level 2 and

Level 1 Tidal

Theo with Jeff


Level 2 - Tidal

Diego with Andrea

Honey with Maggi

Uisge with Rosemary


Level 3 - Tidal

Noa with Maggi

Elma with Kate


Level 4 - Tidal

Darwin with Julie

Kilda with Julie

Luna with Stef

It’s been great to see new partnerships being introduced to water training in 2023 and returning partnerships progressing through the awards – just great to see the dogs in their nature environment!

Northern Ireland 2023

First ever water training event, Northern Ireland, Sunday 2nd July 2023

Despite widely publicising the event, we only had one new dog and handler attend, however, we managed to assess each other as well. We decided to start with Levels 1 & 2 only, and we took the paddle board rather than the boat, which we will use for higher levels.

As this was our first water training event, we were going to hold it in Lough Neagh, the big lake in the middle of Northern Ireland, where usually there is lots of swimming, water sports and eel fishing. However, there has been an environmental catastrophe this year, where the presence of Blue-Green Algae (BGA) has made it a very unsafe place, particularly for dogs but the councils have also erected signs warning people to stay out.

So, what to do? Fortunately, I also swim outdoors at an old quarry, so I contacted the owner of Splash in Moneymore, and he was happy to allow us to train there, first thing on a Sunday, so that we didn’t impact the summer swimmers. In the event, even when we finished around 12, there were only a few swimmers etc, so the impact was low- the owner came to see what we were up to, unfortunately arriving with his family just as we were about to leave!

Miriam and her crossbreed dog, Layla, are members of our dog training club. Miriam wasn’t at all sure what Layla’s reaction would be to any sort of water work, but she has her Gold Good Citizens’ Award and trains for agility, so the two of them already have a lovely bond.

In the event, Layla attempted and passed both her Level 1 and Level 2, the first dog in NI ever to do so! Making history, Miriam said it was the furthest she had ever seen Layla swim!

After this, Miriam stayed around while I assessed Adrian with Lita, who at 13 ½ must be one of the oldest SWD to do her water awards! She passed both L1 & L2, with her daughter Pasi also passing L2. Then Adrian really put me through my paces with my girls, Loli passed L1 & L2, Pili passed both and Pedra, who already had her L1 passed her L2. So all in all, a very successful training morning for everyone concerned. The cabin does lovely hot chocolate, too, so I can see we will be back again when the weather is a bit warmer.

Since I posted the photos on Social Media, we have had lots of enquiries, from all sorts of breeds to attend the next one, which I plan to be in Spring 2024.

Southern Water Training – 2023


Brean – June 2023


The first Southern Water training of 2023 was back in Somerset.  We were greeted with glorious weather, and a beautiful day awaited.  Having looked ahead, we realised that the training would take place in the evening, to make the most of the tides.  Tanya Lambert Majewicz very kindly offered to host everyone during the wait.  She provided lovely dog-friendly walks, along with a wealth of local knowledge, which filled the day with lots of interest and entertainment.


David Earles joined us, and provided excellent training, support and assessment for the Level 2 dogs.  All of the participants enjoyed the day, building strong supportive connections between the owners and their dogs.


As part of the development of the Water Training Programme, Fiona Franklin joined us, and she very successfully led the Level 3 training, with Kate Wilden working alongside.  The teams worked well in challenging circumstances, and Fiona adapted to ensure she obtained the best out of the dogs and their handlers.


David & Kate then undertook the Level 1 training.  Both Esta and Bisco loved undertaking the tasks and completed their training with great success.


Congratulations to:


Level 1 – Tidal

Esta & Helena Girdlestone

Bisco & Helena Girdlestone

Remo & Jane Appleton


Level 2 – Tidal

Izzi & James Lapworth

Ola & Adele Lapworth

Pedro & Jeff and Niamh Hutchinson


Level 3 – Tidal

Rocket & Fiona Pearston

Quzzi & Jane Appleton






Clacton – July 2023


In July we headed to a new Water Training venue in East Anglia.  Ian and Ekin Bartlett very kindly checked out a few locations, and after researching the possible options, suggested that we try Clacton Beach.


In turned out to be an excellent location, with parking and facilities on hand to keep us refreshed throughout.  We arrived early Saturday morning, and the beach was perfect for training, so we set up ready for the day ahead.  Kate Wilden led the training, with Jenny Abrahams fulfilling the role of glamorous assistant and administrative guru. 


The day started with Tia.  As Tia is blind, we made the decision to conduct her training as a 1-to-1, so that we could focus on her needs, and make sure that she gained the most from the training.  Jenny’s daughter and granddaughter made it a family affair, with Jenny directing from the shoreline.  Tia loves being in the water, and excelled at all of the tasks required for her assessment.


We then moved our focus to the Level 1 group.  The majority of the group where new to water training.  So once we had both humans and dogs properly equipped, we went through the requirements for them.  They all did really well, and it was great to see the families and their dogs working in their natural environment.


We finished the day off with the Level 2 partnerships.  A great location to conduct water training, and a very enjoyable, successful day was had by all.


Congratulations to:


Level 1 – Tidal

Hedrig & James Hartley

Dotty & Jenny Abrahams

Tia & Jenny Hall

Bobbie & Sandrine Roberts

Elsa & Carol Palumbo

Raki & Ian and Ekin Bartlett

Ziggy & Jenny Abrahams


Level 2 – Tidal

Ziggy & Jenny Abrahams

Elsa & Carol Palumbo

Debbie & Fiona Donaldson

Tia & Jenny Hall

Raki & Ian and Ekin Bartlett

Remote Water Training report – 2022


And to the final Water report for 2022. A big thank you to all that took the plunge and submitted Remote Test submissions. 


The first that took the plunge were Jenny Hall and Jenny Abrahams with Tia and Ziggy.  It was lovely to see how confident Tia is, and how much she loved to work in water, despite being blind.


Our Remote tests also saw our first non-SWDs undertaking the club revised Water Awards.  Congratulations to Ginette Evans achieving Level 2 with Shark and Prada.


It has been lovely to be able to offer the Water Awards to those that have not been able to attend the training days that we provided in 2022, and we look forward to your submissions in 2023.


Level 1 – Pool

Tia & Jenny Hall

Ziggy & Jenny Abrahams


Level 1 – Non-Tidal

Pedro & Rachel Cooper

Pasi & Adrian Dornford Smith



Level 2 – Pool

Ziggy & Jenny Abrahams

Muffin & Ginette Evans

Prada & Ginette Evans

Shark & Ginette Evans

Thema & Kylee Noad

Timba & Kylee Noad

Quest & Kylee Noad

Ripley & Doreen Petchey

Rocket, Dave Earles & Fern Pearston

Dali & Kate Wilden

Elma & Kate Wilden


Level 2 – Tidal

Rocket, Dave Earles & Fern Pearston


Photos to be uploaded shortly

Water Training report October 2022

Whilst enjoying the summer training, we came up with the idea to conduct another Northern Water training later on in the year.  Having reviewed our diaries, 1-2 Oct was considered the best date, and we advertised the event.


We had loved training at Aberdour, but decided to see if we could find a non-tidal location as well.  We were very fortunate that Jacquie and Richard were able to approach Loch Meadows, and they very kindly gave us permission to train on their shores.


Having secured both tidal and Non-tidal locations, we were excited about the upcoming weekend. Driving up through driving wind and rain, I did have a moment where I wondered the folly of training in October in Scotland…


Richard, Jacquie and I got our heads together, and re-assessed the risks of the training, and symptoms to look out for in both the dogs and their humans, but as we had lovely dogs and their owners who had travelled to attend, including Heieke who had travelled all the way from the Isle of Wight, we chose to proceed with caution.


I led the training on the Saturday, and everyone had a great day, achieving their goals and each of the partnerships growing as dog and owner worked together to succeed.

A few images are shown below. 

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On the Sunday Richard took the lead, and I supported and observed the sessions.  This provided us with two successful outcomes, Richard completing his practical assessment to conduct Water Assessment for the club, whilst also ensuring that all of the partnerships continued to flourish.  We were also joined on the Sunday by Ashley, Jake and their two dogs, who extended their visit to Scotland to fit in the training.


The weekend was a great success, with over 24 Water titles being achieved.   My highlight must be Ria achieving the very first Level 4 Award, and Uisge overcoming her fear of water, happily playing out of her depth.


A huge thank you to Maggi, David and Noa, whom we shared a very lovely cottage with.  And to Jacquie and Richard who continue to support SWDs across Scotland.


Level 1 – Non-Tidal

Skye and Heike

Cassie, Angie and Scott

Bruno, Alison and Martin

Usige, Andy and Rosemary


Level 1 – Tidal

Skye and Heike

Cassie, Angie and Scott

Bruno, Alison and Martin

Usige, Rosemary and Andy

Uno, Jake and Ashley

Arlo and Ashley


Level 2 – Non-Tidal

Noa and Maggi

Luna and Steph

Bear, Zoey & Paul

Kilda and Julie


Level 2 – Tidal

Noa and Maggi

Tito & Frank

Kate and Elma


Level 3 – Non-tidal

Darwin and Julie

Ria and Jacquie


Level 3 – Tidal

Luna and Steph

Kilda and Julie

Darwin and Julie


Level 4 – Tidal

Ria and Jacquie


Water Training Report - June 2022 - North & South


With new Water awards having been developed, we were

keen to test them out.  As we had introduced ‘Environment’

into the awards, we also wanted to find suitable locations

across the UK. 


The first 2022 water training took place on Tidal waters,

utilizing Silver Sands beach in Aberdour.  

I travelled up to Scotland to facilitate the training and



The location was perfect, Silver Sands providing sheltered

access to the Forth of Firth.  However, the weather forecast

was predicting high winds and rain.  We kept an eye on the

weather throughout, and found that the bay stayed sheltered

throughout the training.




One of the aims of the revised water awards

is to be able to assess multiple ways, using

summative, formative and holistic assessment. 

Each requirement is marked out of 5, so

that if a partnership had an area to work on,

we could support them in this.

 After a short brief, the Saturday session

was underway, with SWDs interacting with

each other, the water and their owners.

All completed each task required,

whilst building confidence in water.  





Then on the Sunday each dog worked individually, focusing either on areas to develop, or skills that owners were keen to achieve, like moving from paddle board to paddle board.


I could sing the praises of all of the dogs and their owners, but one highlight must be seeing Noa on his wheels, build confidence in his new buoyancy aid, swimming with confidence, and building up his independence at interacting with boats and paddle boards.

Huge congratulations go to:


Level 1 - Tidal

Maya and Lesley

Bear and Zoey

Noa and Maggie 

Tito and Frank


Level 1 & 2 - Tidal

Luna, Steph and Matt

Arlo and Jordan


Level 2 & 3 - Tidal

Ria and Jacquie


A big thank you to all those that partook, but particularly to Jacquie and Richard, who helped throughout the day.



With a hugely successful weekend in Scotland, I headed down to Somerset to see if we could do it all over again.


This time the location was Bream Sands.  Although Bream is a much larger beach, it is more exposed to the elements, so different factors were considered, including the timing of each training session, the direction of the prevailing wind, along with the tide times.


Having local contacts that could advise us, was one of our greatest assets.  We were able to consider all of the risks prior, during and after each training session.

We started with the more advance group, working with the incoming tide, we developed boat skills, and ensured that each dog was able to complete each task.  Working side-by-side allowed each partnership to have some much needed downtime.


As the tide fell, we moved to training with the Level 1 group, with the dogs learning from each other, and the handlers comparing stories and ideas to assist their SWDs success’.  The majority of the assessment was conducted holistically, ensuring that each partnership was able to achieve it’s goal.


On Saturday evening our BBQ and gathering was hastily moved to Fiona and Robs' lovely home, where they welcomed us with open arms.  It was a great evening, and they looked after us all with enthusiasm and cheer.

Then before we knew it, it was back to training on a clear and lovely Sunday morning.  This meant that the beach was busier, but the dogs stayed focused throughout, and took very little interest in the families walking past.  Sunday was also a chance to work on skills that the dogs had struggled on previously, working 1 -2-1 meant that we could really focus in on, and make some excellent progress. 


Another hugely successful water training completed, this time my highlight must be Dinki successfully learning to swim; such a joy to behold and a real privilege to assist.


Huge congratulations to:

Level 1 - Tidal

Mayo and Theresa

Dinki and Lynn

Madge and Val

Mylo and Tauni

Bosquo and Fiona

Remi and Fiona

Jasmine and Lucy


Level 1 and 2 - Tidal

Jasmine and Lucy

Bilbo and Val

Nanci and Lynn

Patsi and Lynn

Cassi and Jane

Quizzi and Jane

Finally a thank you to my camping buddies, and all that helped the training.  

Without them, it wouldn’t have been as rewarding or enjoyable; Jane & Tanya, Lynn, Val and Jane

Lead Water Trainer - Kate Wilden


For more information about our events, please visit the below link:



Please find below previous water training reports from Swim4Paws in 2019 & 2020.  

25th & 26 July 2020

In 2020 we made the decision to hold another Swimming Diving Event in order to fundraise for the test research to stamp out glaucoma in our breed. The event was to be held at SWIM 4 PAWS near Sheffield, which is a custom-made unique pool for training dogs in water sports and rescue skills. 

Covid-19 restrictions had delayed the planned initiative, but on the 25th and 26th July 2020 we were able to go ahead.  The facility was perfect for socially distanced training, so we set about planning a weekend of water fun. 

This was to be our first SWDC get together since March!  So, wetsuits out of the attic, doggy towels and training harnesses packed, tests laminated, we were ready!
What a fabulous weekend it was and packed with SWD ‘firsts’ for many handlers attending Water Rescue Training for the first time. Your dogs were a credit to you.

Thanks to Nigel Haslam and wife Alison owners of SWIM 4 PAWS for allowing us to use this amazing unique facility to show off our dog’s ‘natural’ aptitude and see them blossom in water.
My personal thanks go to Gill Frost, Ainsley Procter, Kate Wilden and Gill Jackson for squeezing in those wetsuits and taking turns at assisting me in the pool. Thanks to Kate Hodgkinson-Rutherford for the loaned Kayak and enthusiasm in promoting the Event.

The sessions were split into organized time slots and each family was allocated a changing space for the duration of the weekend.  The event was sold out in days with many new dogs and handlers wanting to try their paws in the water, along with the seasoned water enthusiasts.

As the day progressed the smiles on the faces of the handlers was a joy to see experiencing and witnessing when they experienced the inherited working abilities of their dogs.

So now with new enthusiasts more dogs have gained their SWDC Natural Aptitude Breed Specific Water Test’s.


Congratulations ! Level Awards achieved were:

  • Jayne with Cassie - Bronze and Silver

  • Caroline with Jacsen - Bronze

  • Sherree with Rubi - Bronze

  • Jenny with Ziggy - Bronze

  • Kate with Pickle and Toro - Bronze and Silver

  • Ainsley with Opie and Raffa - Silver

Huge thanks from all the water enthusiasts and the SWDC to Alison and Nigel Haslam at SWIM4PAWS for providing this facility.

19th & 20th Sept 2020

A huge well done to those who attended the SWDC Event at Swim4Paws at the end of September - lots of new enthusiasts!  There was some fantastic work from the dogs and the handlers, nailing dives and retrieves.

There are plans for 4 Events to look forward to at Swim4Paws for 2021 – dates will be published very soon 

For those who want to practice and take Bronze and Silver Tests, these will shortly be available to take via video submission and details will be announced in the new year on the procedure, via the SWDC website.

We have just been informed of another facility in Norwich which may be suitable for practice which one of our enthusiasts will be checking out and reporting back very soon.  

As well as a fun weekend, learning new skills and celebrating our dogs’ achievements, we must also thank you all for your generous donations to our cause to find the gene responsible for predisposition to Glaucoma in SWD.  You can donate via the link below

Achievements were won by the following dogs with their handlers:

•    Theresa  with Mayo - Bronze
•    Pippa with Maisy - Bronze
•    Clare with Rosa - Bronze
•    Sue  with Flissi - Silver
•    Jane & Mike with Salvo and Riley – Bronze and Silver
•    Kate with BooBoo – Silver
•    Tracey with Mena – Bronze and Silver
•    Lee with Merlin – Bronze and Silver
•    Jenny with Tia (BLIND DOG) – certificate of Water Confidence


2019 was a quiet year for water training, as the regular followers had got to a stage where the lake we were using, could not support the diving skills required for the Gold Test. When I was made aware of a fantastic new facility, indoors, chlorine free water, a huge pool even with a 3 -meter rib, for our use, I was in heaven!

I called Nigel and Alison Haslan and found out they are experienced handlers of Leo’s (Leonbergers) and Newfies (Newfoundlands) and were keen to see what our dogs could do. After a very successful meeting I took our crew for a dip resulting in them saying they were keen to host a day of primarily Diving session for SWD.

The Going4Gold Weekend was arranged and as expected was a great help with specific training for diving. A few dedicated Gold seekers camped over and despite the horrible weather outside we had the amazing SWIM4PAWS to ourselves.

Our dogs made great progress, thank you to Nigel and Alison who were great facilitators.

What we learnt from that trial day was our original tests were not achievable in this indoor pool – so we decided to adapt them to fit the new location so people could train and still take the tests indoors at SWIM4PAWS. The advantages are endless building confidence in a controlled environment, clean water, flow jets if required to strengthen muscle tone and learn to swim through resistance, fully equipped for dog and humans.

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