Swimming With Your Dog
We've named a swimming stroke after them - the dog paddle - so it seems obvious that dogs should just know how to swim automatically when they encounter a nice, cool and safe body of water. It's true for some dogs, but not all dogs are into swimming or will automatically start to paddle when they enter the water.
Swimming can be a great way to spend a lazy - and hot - summer day. It's great exercise for you and your dog, and won't impact their joints and hips like running will. Some breeds, like bulldogs, just aren't made for swimming. But other breeds will take to the water quite well.
If your dog doesn't take well the to water, you can always buy him a snazzy doggie life jacket to put your mind at ease. You should also be available at all times, supervising your dog around any water as if he were a small child.
If you're swimming in an open body of water, keep an eye out for dangerous critters such as jelly fish, snapping turtles, spiders or ticks.
How to test your dog's water ability
Never just throw your dog into the water. That all dogs instinctively know how to swim is a common misconception. The dogs we have today are a long way off from their wild ancestors, and breeds like bulldogs, pugs and boston terriers might just sink because their legs aren’t long enough. Throwing your dog into the water could also result in him swallowing dangerous amounts of water or becoming afraid of water.
Gently encourage your dog into water that is no deeper than its head using his favourite toys or even by getting into the water yourself and calling him. Make sure that he can slowly walk into the water and there are no surprise deep areas, slopes or drops.
Support the dog under his middle and back legs if you move into deeper water, until he starts to paddle.
Ensure your dog is well aware of how to exit the water if necessary. If you're in a pool, show him the stairs.
Teaching a dog to swim in open water means that you'll need to make sure the dog is obedient and well-trained. You don't want him to swim away, and you need him to come back when he's called if he goes too far out or a boat is headed in your direction.
Whichever type of water you're swimming in, make sure your dog doesn't drink it. Lake and river water can contain lots of little nasties you don't want your dog ingesting, and drinking chlorinated water can make them sick.
Keep bowls of fresh water around the swimming water at all times, and if your dog starts to drink swimming water make them get out until they learn they're now allowed to drink that water.
You may also have doggie swimming lessons available in your area, where they don't use chlorinated water and provide a safe environment for learning to swim.
After swimming in all types of water, rinse off your dog with fresh water to help protect his coat. Happy swimming!