Water Safety Tips For Dogs

Summer is here and for many people their thoughts start turning toward water.  Whether it’s the local lake, the beach and ocean, or a pool in your backyard, lots of us can’t get enough of swimming and playing in the water when it’s warm.  And we like to have our dogs along with us.  Before you think about taking your dog for a swim or letting him play in the water, make sure you know some safety tips for your dog.

Can your dog swim?

You may assume that your dog can swim.  All dogs can naturally swim, right?  Wrong.  If you have a Portuguese Water Dog or a Labrador Retriever, then your dog will probably take to swimming like a duck.  Many dogs can do a good dog paddle as soon as they’re introduced to the water.  But swimming doesn’t come naturally to all dogs.  Dogs with long backs or very short legs may have a hard time learning to swim or dog paddle.  That would include breeds such as Dachshunds and Basset Hounds, as well as Bulldogs, Pugs, and Corgis.

If you have a brachycephalic (short-nosed) breed, such as a Pug or Bulldog, then you will need to take extra care of your dog in the water.  With their short nose, you’ll need make sure they keep their head well above the water so they can breathe well.

Fit your dog with a life jacket

Wearing a life jacket or vest can save your dog’s life.  Just like the life jackets that humans wear, your dog’s life jacket can help him stay above the water and keep him from drowning.  This is helpful when your dog is learning to swim and it’s also helpful if your dog swims out too far or gets tired while swimming.

Choose a bright, colorful jacket for your dog so he can be seen from a distance in case he becomes separated from you.  Life jackets come in all different sizes to fit different dogs so be sure to choose one that fits your dog comfortably.  Make sure that your dog’s life jacket has a handle on top so your dog can be pulled up into a boat if necessary.

Teach your dog to swim

Whether your dog is a natural or needs a little help, you can teach your dog to swim by slowly introducing him to the water.  It’s best to teach your dog in a quiet area where there isn’t a lot of noise or distractions.  You want your dog to be nice and calm, and you need to be focused on your dog.  You should be very encouraging to your dog.  It’s best if you can go to a place where you can slowly wade into the water.  Don’t take your dog to a pool or lake and simply throw him in and expect him to start swimming!  Move out into the water with your dog and help support your dog’s weight.  His legs should begin to paddle as you get a little deeper into the water.  Continue to support your dog’s stomach and rear legs until he seems to be supporting himself.

Show your dog how to get out of the water

Whether you are swimming in a lake or a pool, you should always show your dog how to get out by himself.  This is especially important when your dog is swimming in a pool.  Help him find the steps with his legs so he can help himself out of the water.  It’s sad, but dogs have drowned in their own backyard swimming pool because they could not find a way to get out of the pool.  So be sure to carefully teach your dog how to help himself out of the water, even if you aren’t with him.  It’s always possible that your dog could fall into the swimming pool when you aren’t home and have to save himself.

Watch your dog

Even while swimming it is possible for your dog to go out of sight.  You need to keep your eyes on your dog when he’s in the water.  He could swim too far away, duck under water, or get into some other trouble in the water.  So watch your dog while he’s in the water to keep him safe.

If you follow these water safety tips for your dog then you should both have a great time when you go for a dip.


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