Swimming Some breeds are natural water dogs and require no training or acclimation to water, but even dogs who aren’t bred for water activities can learn to enjoy a swim now and then. Here are some tips for fun and safe swimming with your dog:
Introduce your dog to water as early as possible, preferably when she’s still a puppy. If you do, she’ll probably be more confident about swimming as an adult.
Regardless of your dog’s age, make sure her first experiences with water are pleasant ones. Look for a quiet place with shallow water. With your dog on a long leash (about 15 to 20 feet long), start your dog at the water's edge. Wade in with her and encourage her with play and praise.
Never force your dog into the water, and don’t let her get in deep water over her head until you’re confident about her swimming abilities. Belly-deep is deep enough at first. As she becomes more comfortable, you can toss a ball a couple of feet to encourage her to venture in a little deeper.
If you swim with your dog, be careful that the two of you don’t get over your heads. Many dogs will try to climb on their guardian’s head or shoulders when they tire.
Bring fresh water for your dog to drink. Even freshwater streams and lakes can contain parasites and unhealthy bacteria.
Don’t let your dog swim into currents.
Don’t allow your dog to jump into deep water in a pool or lake. A dog can panic and possibly drown. Without an easily accessible ramp, she may not be able to get out of a swimming pool or climb back onto a dock.
For boating or swimming in lakes, get your dog a well-fitted canine life vest. You can use a long nylon lead to prevent your dog from swimming too far away or running off when she gets out of the water. Keep a close watch to make sure your dog doesn’t get tangled in the lead.
Dog guardians who fish should take steps to make sure their dogs can’t access fishing lines, lures, hooks or bait. Keep your dog away from feces, dead fish and shellfish washed up on the shore, which can contain toxins and parasites.
Make sure your dog has access to shade. Too much sun can lead to heat exhaustion or heat stroke. If you have a hairless or light-colored dog, ask her veterinarian about using sun block on her exposed areas like her nose, ear tips and stomach.
Rinse your dog’s paws after visiting the beach to wash off irritating sand and salt water.
Dry out your dog’s ears after playing in the water to prevent ear infections. Please contact your veterinarian to determine which product is best for your dog.
If your dog has a heavy or soft coat-as do, for example, retrievers, collies and shepherds-be sure to brush her thoroughly after she’s dried following a swim. Soft coats can mat when wet and trap bacteria that can create local areas of infection called “hot spots.”
If you have a swimming pool, keep it securely fenced off or covered with a sturdy pool cover when not in use. Never leave your dog unsupervised around an uncovered pool. Your pool should have graded steps, to give dogs and children a way out of the water. Dogs and toddlers cannot climb ladders. If your dog can’t get out of the water, she will soon tire and drown. Also, don’t assume that your dog will automatically know where the steps are and how to exit the pool. You need to show her and teach her several times.