Dogs and Swimming

07/19/16 at 02:00 PM | Published Under Dog Behavior by Sandy Robins

It’s summer and many dogs love to be involved in summer time pool games or poolside activities. Just because there is a swimming stroke called “doggie paddle,” it is often assumed that all dogs know how to swim and are in fact, competent swimmers.

Wrong! This is not the case at all. Dogs can get into difficulties and drown in the same way that children – and adults – can without proper safety precautions in place.

Of course some breeds are more water-born that others. Breeds such as the Newfoundland, that has webbed feet, along with Water Spaniels, Golden Retrievers, Irish Setters and English Setters are not only fond of water, but are generally good swimmers.

Canine expertise in water has a lot to do with their build. The above breeds are long limbed, muscular and strong. At the other end of the scale, stocky breeds like Bulldogs and Pugs and pooches with short little legs such as Dachshunds are going to struggle to stay afloat.

And, just like children, some dogs are also scared of water.

It’s possible to teach such a dog to swim by taking him into the swimming pool with you and holding him until he gets used to the feel of the water and the idea that it’s okay to move about. It’s important that your dog knows his way around your pool – particularly where the shallow end is and the steps so that he can exit on his own.

There are special ramps that you can buy and position in the deep end (or even the shallow end alongside the steps) to help pets get out safely. They can be a lifesaver if a pet (or wildlife) falls in accidentally when there is no one around.

Also, there are also special flotation devices for dogs. They come in all sizes and even have a handle on the back of the neck area so that you can swiftly take control. They are a really good idea, whether you are teaching your dog to swim, or even if your dog knows how to swim, and is simply hanging around the pool with family and friends and falls in.

 A floatation device should be part of your dog’s kit if you go hiking or camping near a river, too. Similarly, it’s a really good idea for your dog to wear one if you go sailing or even if you are lucky enough to ever spend time partying on a yacht.

When it comes to poolside ball games, children should also be instructed never to throw a floatable dog toy or any other toy such as a ball or Frisbee towards the water and encourage a dog to jump in unless there is someone supervising the fun.

And while we are talking about outdoor activities, it’s important to apply a doggie sunscreen too, particularly to dogs with light fur and pink noses and tummy spots. Dogs are susceptible to skin cancers – just like people. There are special canine sun products in liquid form, sun sticks and also wipes for easy application.

Finally make sure a big bowl of fresh water is handy – all that summer fun can be thirsty work!

 

 

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