Is your dog the kind that jumps into every puddle or the type that won’t even get their paws wet? As you may already know, it often depends on the breed. However, from backyard pools to beach boat rides, it’s essential your pup feels comfortable in and around water—no matter their preferences.
When your dog does decide to take the plunge, you’ll be happy to have these helpful tips in your back pocket. Now, let’s dive in. (Sorry, we had to.)
KNOW THE BREED BASICS
First things first: Some dogs feel most at home underwater and this is because certain breeds were born to help with water-related jobs. Take retrievers, for example. They’re literally called retrievers because they were bred to retrieve water birds for hunters. Or how about Irish water spaniels? As you can probably guess by the name, these champion swimmers just love the water. Those curls and water repellent coat really come in handy when it’s time for a dip.
Every dog is different, so don’t take it personally if your pup doesn’t jump paw first into the water. To recap, some dogs are natural swimmers while our short-legged or long-bodied furry friends may not have the proper weight distribution to easily ride the wave. That’s OK, they’ll get the hang of it with you by their side…and possibly a dangling treat above the pool steps.
When first-timers or poor swimmers are in the water, a doggie life vest is always a good idea. As long as the doggie life vest fits them comfortably, they’ll be confidently swimming laps around you in no time. This is because life vests help your dog’s back stay level with the water, encouraging them to use all four paws to paddle—think of it as a four-paw drive.
The best life vests are durable, adjustable and made of waterproof material. If you plan on swimming at night, reflective trim will help you find your pup in the dark. For extra support, find a vest with a sturdy handle that you can easily grab to pull your dog out of the water or gently guide them around.
JUST ADD WATER
Ready to have some fun and put your pup to the test? Whether you’re introducing Reggie the retriever or Betty the bulldog to water for the first time, you will still want to start in shallow water and stay close to your dog before gradually going deeper. Never force or throw your dog into water since this might cause panic and longstanding fear.
Now that we’ve covered some of the basics, start splashing around with these doggie pool pointers:
Often, dogs can find the bright blue pool water intimidating. If your dog isn’t feeling the swimming pool at first, no worries. Simply introduce your dog to a pint-sized pool, there’s absolutely no shame in the kiddie pool game! If you go the kiddie pool route, help them gain some traction and stop slipping by placing a rubber drainage mat with holes at the bottom.
Struggling a bit to get Fido into the pool? Toss their favorite toy into the water or invite a water-loving doggie friend of theirs over to encourage your pup to swim and keep up.
When your dog does join you in the swimming pool, stay in the shallow end and near the pool steps. Dogs can easily jump in from the sides, but may struggle if they can’t find the stairs. Own an above ground pool? Ladders are trickier for our furry friends, so you’ll have to pick up your pup if they’re small enough or there are a number of doggie ramps you can install.
Dogs haven’t quite perfected Marco Polo yet, so playing fetch is probably your best bet when it comes to water games. Skip the larger toys and opt for a toy that floats such as a flat, flying disc.
Overall, keep the swimming sessions to 10 minutes or shorter. This will keep your pup from tiring out and help them avoid swallowing too much water, which can be harmful to dogs.
Looking to graduate from the pool to a river or lake? Lots of the same swimming pool rules apply to open water! Just make sure your pup is on a leash or long line. With all of these tips and tricks in mind, everything should go, well, swimmingly.