Teaching Your Dog to Swim
Every Puppy in the Pool! – Teaching Your Dog to Swim
A nice swim is a great way to cool your dog off during the hot summer months. Being in water will help to maintain their body temperature while they’re outside in the heat. Remember, our pups don’t sweat the way we do; they don’t sweat to cool off their skin the way their owners do. Dogs rely on panting and sweating from their paw pads to expel the heat from their bodies. If Sasha has been pretty active out on a hot day, cooling down her body with a dip in the pool or a lake is a good way to dissipate the heat built up in her body, often more quickly than her natural mechanics allow. But we have to be careful when it comes to pools and pups, just as we would with human children. Chances are, you didn’t just leap into the pool as a child and start swimming like Michael Phelps. You probably had Mom or Dad help you stay afloat and teach you how to keep your arms and feet moving. Well, we can’t toss our fur babies in the water and expect them to know how to swim, either! Let’s take a look at how we can ensure that Max gets the chance to enjoy some time in the water safely!
Just like our dogs need to be taught tricks like “Sit” and “Stay”, they also need to be taught how to be safe in the water. Some dogs do not naturally know how to swim (and others that are simply not built for swimming at all, typically heavy-chested, short-legged dogs such as bulldogs or pugs; these and a few other breeds tend to sink no matter how hard they try). For those who don’t take to the water immediately even if they’re a good breed for swimming, you’ll need to spend a little time getting them to learn how to maneuver in the water. It’s a good idea to get a kiddie pool for your pup while they’re young (and these are great to use for those above-mentioned dogs that can’t handle deeper waters). Get them into playing in this pool. Start off with a little bit of water and gradually fill it until they’re used to deeper water but without having to swim. Slowly introduce them to a bigger, deeper pool or a lake. Go in the water with him/her, and support them if needed. As most dogs who don’t know how to swim will do, your pup is likely only to try to paddle with their front legs, leaving their rear to sink and eventually pull them under (yes, dogs can drown, unfortunately). So, you might need to be in the water and support their rear ends until they get used to using their hind legs to keep them afloat and moving. Once they learn how to kick, they should get the hang of it. Also be sure to train your dog to get in and out of the water, whether it be up an embankment at a lake or onto a deck at a pool. It’s a good idea to get a doggie life jacket, preferably one with a handle, when you’re starting out. You might not need it later when they’ve mastered the four-paws-kicking routine needed to swim, but until then this will keep them afloat…and alive.
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Written by Harrison Howe