Not all dogs instinctually know how to swim and need to be taught, and made comfortable around the water. Our old dog Edward would panic terribly and forget to use her legs to keep her afloat! So we worked with her for months ( yes got very wet and looked very silly), made her feel comfortable, and then there was no way we could get her out and she really enjoyed a good swim all year round.
Swimming is an excellent form of exercise and play for all dogs. Swimming is also an excellent form of exercise for dogs with physical limitations or injuries, be it old joints, too much weight, or post surgery (check with your vet first).
We would really recommend swimming for large breed dogs before the age of two rather than long strenuous walks (not good for young growing bones). And the great thing is that any body of water safe for you to swim in is safe for your dog as well.
There are some safety precautions to consider before you jump in - paws first. While many dogs enjoy swimming, others simply can't swim or dislike/fear the water. It is important to know your dog’s personality and behaviours before attempting to get him to swim.
To introduce your dog to the water for the first time, be prepared to get wet! Enter the water and coax your dog in by calling to them, in an upbeat way. You can use treats or throw floating toys to encourage them to enter.
Also, ‘monkey see, monkey do’ works well in these cases; having another dog happily swimming around will definitely encourage your pup to take the plunge (Norman and Fish helped many dogs down by the river take the plunge). If your dog is hesitant, take a break and try again later. Never, ever throw your dog into the water. This will only increase your dog’s anxiety and will most likely turn her off to the idea of swimming completely.
If your dog enters and begins to swim, great! Encourage him verbally and keep a close eye on him. Swimming is a different kind of exercise the first few sessions should be kept short to acclimatise him. Once he gets used to the new sensations you'll never see a more enthusiastic doggie paddle!
Remember to never leave your dog alone in a body of water. To prevent your dog from swimming too far away, use a long cotton lead. They’re light, don’t get slippery in water, and give your dog enough length to have fun while still keeping him in sight.
If you're planning on making swimming a regular part of your dog’s routine, a canine life jacket may be a very valuable purchase. Canine life jackets keep your dog afloat if they are accidentally knocked into the water or if they become tired quickly while swimming.
Canine life jackets are also a great aid if your dog is slightly nervous or lacks the confidence in the water. They come in great bright colours so you can easily keep an eye on them, then you can relax why your pooch swims with confidence.
Basset Hounds, Pugs, French and English Bulldogs- or heavy dogs with short legs- aren’t built for swimming. While it is not absolute than any dog of such a breed can’t swim, it’s very difficult for them in general - but not difficult with the help of a Canine Life Jacket. Make sure your dog has one - Be Safe.
After a good swim workout, offer your dog some clean water. Drinking seawater, or even fresh water from a pond/river, can sometimes make a dog sick- be sure to have fresh water on hand. Rinsing a dog off after a swim in the ocean is advisable as the salt and minerals are rough on the coat and pads.
Always ensure your dog has an easy way to exit the water under their own power, before you allow them to take the plunge. And of course, wherever you choose to venture into the water, remember to bring an extra towel!
To see our range of floating toys and life jackets, pop into Scampers and ask to speak to one of our Pet Care Advisors who will happily get you both ready for that first dip.