Water Safety For Dogs
Summer is a great time to enjoy the water with your dog. Whether you like boating, fishing or just swimming in the pool, your dog probably wants to do these things with you.
Although many dogs are great swimmers, don’t assume dog knows how to swim. Some dogs have a fear of the water, so the first time you take your dog out to the lake or swimming pool that he may not hop in and start dog paddling.
It isn’t easy for some dogs to swim because of the way they’re built. A Newfoundland, Portuguese Water Dog, or Labrador Retriever, have dense, water-resistant fur that sheds water. Newfies and Labs carry a little extra fat that keeps them warm in cold water. The Lab has a tail like a rudder to help him in the water. The Portuguese Water Dog has webbing on his paws that helps him paddled in the water.
If you plan to have your dog near the water the first thing to do is buy him a life jacket made especially for dogs. They are made from the same material as the life vests for humans. You can order them online or from pet specialty stores.
When choosing a life vest for your dog keep these factors in mind:
- Select one that is brightly colored. You want to be able to see your dog if he is out in the water away from you.
- Ensure the vest fits your dog well. The vest will have straps that fit around your dog in several places.
Begin teaching your dog to swim by slowly walking him into the water. Don’t force him to go deeper than he wants to go, and don’t force him into the water if he doesn’t want to go. Most dogs will catch on and enjoy themselves. Remember to stay close by in case your dog has any problem, whether you are swimming in a pool or any other small body of water.
It’s particularly important with pools for you to teach your dog how to find the side so he can get out on his own. Many dogs drown each year because they don’t know how to get out of the pool. Swim with your dog to the side of the pool where the steps are and help your dog find the steps with his legs. Show him how to step out of the pool and make sure that you see him do this.
NEVER allow a dog to swim unattended. If you have a pool you should always keep a gate to the pool closed or keep the pool otherwise off-limits to your dog.
Water safety is important for us and our dogs. Even though swimming is a lot of fun for dogs, they can and do drown. Please be careful when your dog is near water.
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