July is Pet Safety Month at BlogPaws, and this is my 3rd and final post in my Summer Safety series. I found another great infographic to share with safety tips for swimming, and then I’ll tell you what we do to keep our dogs safe when swimming.
Here in New Hampshire, we consider summer to be about half over. It really hasn’t been a very hot summer here, other than a few short hot and humid spells, so we haven’t been swimming as much as we’d like (other than splashing around in the kiddie pool at home). We’re hoping August and September will be better, and I’m sure there are other places that are getting plenty of heat!
Swimming is wonderful exercise for dogs: it builds their muscles and is great for their hearts and health. It is especially beneficial for dogs like our Sheba who have arthritis. It is low impact exercise but increases flexibility and range of motion. So if your dog likes to swim, it’s a great activity to share with them.
When we do go swimming, the dogs are constantly supervised. Many people think that all dogs can swim, but even though many may instinctually dog paddle when in the water, they may get scared or overwhelmed if just thrown in the water. Certain breeds such as retrievers may find it more natural, but many others, especially small dogs, may not. Not all dogs are going to love the water, so let them start out slowly and learn at their own pace.
We had a scare many years ago when we took our dogs Kobi and Maggie out in our boat. Our beagle Kobi fell off the boat! He had never been swimming. Of course at the time, my hubby thought like many that all dogs could swim, and I was a pretty new dog owner and didn’t know better either. Luckily for us, Kobi was one of those dogs that it did come naturally to, and he was fine. But Kobi didn’t really like water, so he was not very happy about it! That didn’t, however, deter him from wanting to ride in the front of the boat standing on the edge. So from then on he either wore a life jacket, or I held onto him with a leash.
Maggie was a natural swimmer (she was a Lab mix), and she was strong and fast in the water. When we were in the boat, she knew that she could not go in the water until the boat was stopped and we gave her permission. She even learned to climb the ladder back into the boat! However, we always watched and supervised her. Whether your dog swims off a boat, in a lake, the ocean, or in a pool, they should be constantly watched. When we can, we go right in with them to keep a close eye out. I used to love swimming off the boat with Maggie, and Kobi would stay in the boat watching us!
Our dogs have never been swimming in a large pool (even though I keep telling my hubby we should get them one). If your dog is going to swim in a pool, be sure first of all that they know where the steps are to get in and out.
It is probably a good idea to rinse your dog off after swimming, no matter what body of water they have been in. Around here, we check the lakes and ponds to be sure they are free of algae or anything else that doesn’t look clean before letting them swim. In addition, be sure they don’t drink the water. Pool water and salt water can upset their tummies.
When we took Luke to swim for the first times, we kept a long leash on him so that he could not get too far away from us. Swimming came pretty naturally to him, but he did a lot of splashing at first, and I didn’t want him to have trouble and panic.
We also got a wonderful piece of advice from our friend Linda at 2 Brown Dawgs blog. When I had posted about Luke’s first swim, I mentioned that the dogs wore harnesses (usually because we have to walk to the places to swim), and Linda suggested that the harnesses could get snagged on something easily in the water, which was something I never thought of. We keep Luke close so far, but Sheba is allowed to swim out further to chase the ball, and the places we take her could easily have fallen trees or other things that a harness could get snagged on. So from now on, the harnesses will come off when they swim. I plan to get some waterproof collars as well for swimming, with ID on them.
Is it hot where you are? We hope you are able to do some swimming with your dogs this summer; enjoy and keep these tips in mind to stay safe!
BONUS! GIVEAWAY! I have a Fido Float life jacket to giveaway. It looks very similar to the one Kobi is wearing in the above photo. I had purchased this years ago for Cricket and we never got to use it before she outgrew it. The tags are no longer on it but it is in brand new condition. It is, however, an XS size so is only for smaller dogs who’s girth measures 14-18″ (behind front legs). You can visit this link for more detailed measuring instructions and information (note: this product is not recommended for dogs with very short legs). Please just leave a comment that you would like to win this and I will do a random draw for all those that are interested. I will keep the giveaway open for one week (ends 11:59pm EST on 8/7/14). Good luck!