Dog Swimming Tips

If you are lucky enough to live near a body of water that allows dogs or you have a pool, your pooch gets the joy of taking a dip during the hot summer weather. I say “joy”, but that’s as a person who loves to swim. You always see pictures of some dog gleefully paddling. I love watching the dog diving competitions on ESPN – those dogs look like they are having fun! So, I find it hard to believe that there are people and dogs that don’t like swimming.

Not all dogs love swimming. Who knew?

But there are. My husband is one. I don’t know how that happened – he was in the Navy for goodness sake. He says he just doesn’t like the hassle.

My dog is another one. This energetic, playful dog will run with me for miles, play fetch pole for an hour, but will not get near water. We had him as a puppy and he’s had no negative experiences. He’ll only tolerate a bath. I can’t get him to run through a sprinkler of water, even on hot days. I don’t understand it. Maybe my husband rubbed off on him.

So while I don’t have the joys of playing this particular dog in water, my friend Tess has poodles that have a thrashing good time in any body of water they get near, usually her neighbor’s pool (when invited) and the local lake. And her hot tub if they get near it. But Tess knows dogs should never be in a hot tub. Besides them being difficult to get out off, dogs can overheat much faster than humans and the warm temperatures are not good for them.

That said, I am listing here (jealously) a few things you should consider when getting your dog in the water this summer:

  1. People assume that if your dog is in water, he won’t overheat. Not true, particularly when the water temperature gets much above 75 degrees and if the dog is working hard in the water.
  2. Your dog still needs water to drink if he’s been swimming. Have his dish and water available for him.
  3. Many dogs drown each year from pool accidents that could have been avoided. If your pooch loves the water and loves jumping in the pool, make sure she knows how to get out safely and teach her where and how to get out of the pool regardless of where she went in.
  4. Keep an eye on your dog while in the pool because swimming can be very tiring for a dog. Just like many dogs will run until they nearly collapse, many dogs will continue swimming without any thought as to how tired they are. And unlike running, they have no solid ground on which to rest.
  5. If you take your dog swimming in a natural environment, be aware of the surrounding area if you take your dog to the beach, lake or pond. Watch for trouble and make sure your dog will come to you as soon as you call. Recall is one of the most important lessons you can teach your dog. It can literally save his life.
  6. Also, take a walk in the water. Know if there are strong undercurrents and watch for sharp rocks and shells just under the water surface that he might cut his paws on.
  7. Get him a life jacket if you have any questions about his safety. There are versions of life Jackets just for your dog.

With a little planning and forethought, you can help your dog swim without incident in most any environment during the hot summer months.