As the saying goes, spring has sprung. The weather is warming up and we all want to spend more time outside. And because it’s warm, many of us spend that outdoor time by the water – be it a lake, river or at the beach. If you happen to have a four-legged friend, it’s likely you’ll bring him along, too.
Many dogs love water play, whether it’s swimming or chasing a ball. If you happen to share your life with one of these partly-aquatic creatures, it’s important to make sure your dog’s time around and in the water is both enjoyable and safe.
The first step is to test your dog in shallow, calm water to make sure he can swim, and swim well. Not all dogs are natural swimmers and they can drown. In case of an emergency, make sure you have something that floats available for a rescue, as a drowning dog will panic and climb on top of the rescuer, which could hinder the rescue and possibly put both the dog and its rescuer in peril. A life preserver on a rope is one possible rescue tool. On a boat, just like humans should wear life preservers, so should dogs. They can jump or fall overboard. A life vest in a bright color will keep your dog afloat and also make it easier to see him in the dark water so you can pull him back on board.
If your dog is skittish or otherwise uncomfortable around or in water, respect his boundaries and do not force him in. Some dogs just do not enjoy playing in water and never will. If you are looking for a dog and want one that will enjoy being in water, do your research and get a breed that’s more likely to enjoy the water. Labs and German shepherds specifically are more likely to grow up to be water dogs, though breed cannot predict an individual animal’s instincts and behavior.
Finally, if your dog swims in a backyard pool, make sure to rinse the chlorine off thoroughly as soon as swim time is over.