Trying to beat the heat this summer? Hit the water, and bring your dog!
It’s well known that most dogs love water. Many breeds, such as labs and retrievers, are natural swimmers, and love to get wet. This can make for truly memorable summer experiences. Some dogs aren’t quite as at home in the water. Never fear, though, because most dogs can be trained to swim.
Teaching Your Dog to Swim
- Safety First: If your dog is unused to the water, consider using a pet flotation device; basically a life jacket for your dog.
- Take it Slow: Start out in shallow water; try letting your dog walk in the water first. Then, you can ease him into swimming, holding up his back end first while he paddles with his front. As he gets more comfortable in the water, you can let him swim on his own.
- Stay Positive: Use sunscreen on his nose and ears. Light colored dogs are particularly susceptible to sunburn.
Tips for Water Safety
- Be a Lifeguard: Always be there to watch over your dog when he’s swimming. If you’re at a lake or ocean, try to keep an eye on the current and how far out your dog is swimming. Dogs can get tired while swimming and you don’t want to let him get out of your reach.
- Don’t Drink the Water: When dogs are swimming, they like to lap up the water that they’re doing laps in. This can be bad for them, as chlorine, salt, or pollutants will be present in pools, oceans, or lakes. When you go swimming, try to bring plenty of fresh water for your dog to drink so he won’t be tempted to drink unhealthy water.
- Stay Clean: After swimming, make sure to rinse your dog off with clean water. If you want him to get extra clean, bring dog shampoo. Don’t forget to rinse and dry his ears, to protect him from ear infections.
- At Home: If you have a pool, feel free to let your dog swim around. Just be sure he knows where and how to exit the pool, and try not to play rough with him. If you don’t have a pool, many dogs have plenty of fun playing with hoses, sprinklers, or kiddie pools.
- In the Wild: Lakes and rivers are great places to play with your dog in the water. Try playing fetch; but be careful not to throw the ball too far out. You can bring your dog to the beach, too, but be careful of the surf and other factors, like jellyfish. Before you venture out, though, check to make sure the spot is “dog friendly.”
- On the Boat: if you can, another fun idea is to bring your dog boating. Before you try this, though, make sure your dog is a strong swimmer. Always outfit him in a pet flotation device and make sure he’s wearing identification. On the boat, try to provide him with non-slip surfaces, a shady spot, and a place to rest. Also, make sure your dog responds well to commands, as this can be essential on the water. Like swimming, start slow with your dog. Go on small boat trips in gentle water before getting more adventurous, and always make sure he’s comfortable.