Do you have plans to go swimming with your dog? Now that winter is slowing but surely winding down and spring is around the corner, the weather would be warm enough to engage in some recreational activities, including swimming. It is possible that your dog also can’t wait to have a run around the park again; it has been so long. Don’t we all? What a relief!
However, before you take your dog to the beach for a swim or just for the fun of it, there are some precautionary steps you need to take to ensure its safety. Even if it’s just to a pool, these steps cannot be overlooked.
If your dog is a first-time swimmer, then extra care has to be taken. You see, dogs are just that – dogs. No matter how smart or well-trained they are, they have their limits. It doesn’t even matter if they love water (you could tell from the fact that they love having baths); you have to keep them safe.
So, take care to prepare your dog adequately. It doesn’t have to be a burden or a harrowing experience; swimming is for fun and exercise. But if you don’t watch it, certain moves could end up leaving your dog at a huge risk of getting drowned. Below are some things you need to do strictly – no compromise – when going swimming with your dog:
Get your dog a life jacket
Life jackets are not meant exclusively for humans. There are life jackets for dogs, too. Your dog may even know how to swim but you can never be too careful. Having a standby life jacket whenever you go swimming with your dog is compulsory, especially when you are taking it to a river or to the sea.
Depending on the breed of the dog, some need it as an absolute necessity more than others. Dogs with shorter legs would need to paddle longer and harder than others just to swim or stay afloat so if your dog falls under this category, you have to get a life jacket.
In choosing a life jacket, you have to consider visibility. Neon colors are a yes for them, together with reflectors, so that your dog can be seen easily, even if it is far out. The snaps shouldn’t be rocket science – they should be easy and quick to maneuver but not too slippery as to easily get undone while your dog is in the water.
And let the jacket be the right fit and size for your dog so that the purpose of getting it in the first place is not defeated.
Keep a watchful eye on your dog
If the swimming is going to happen in open waters which have currents, it is better to put your dog on a long leash as to allow it enjoy some freedom to swim yet have you in total control if things accidentally get out of hand.
Dogs have paws so cannot fully hold on to an object. The only option they may have is to use their mouths and this may impede their swimming. So no matter how good a swimmer your dog is, it is not advisable to leave it to its own devices. Using a pool isn’t the same as swimming in open waters.
Don’t take for granted that your dog knows how to swim
It is not a natural talent. It is learned. And while some breeds of dogs find it easy to learn, others have a harder time at it. Some breeds of bulldogs and the Dachshund have short legs that make it difficult for them to effectively paddle to stay afloat or to stroke.
Some other breeds may have trouble breathing properly, which is very important while swimming. This tip is especially important for you if your dog is a first-time swimmer. It is advised that you try out smaller water bodies like a swimming pool where you can greatly control movement so that you can tell what your dog can and can’t do in water.
Avoid letting your dog wear itself out
This is a huge risk, especially for dogs which are fantastic swimmers and love water. If your dog falls under this category, never take your eyes off of it for one second because it cannot tell when to stop and if you let it, it would go on swimming till its muscles are completely worn out.
This risk is heightened when your dog swims out in the sea. Without the long leash or your eye on it, your dog could go too far and may get too tired to swim back to shore.
What to do? Time it. Have a marker for when it begins to show even the tiniest signs of fatigue and teach it to swim back to shore. Eventually, it would learn to swim back to shore without your prompting.
Keep the weather in mind
If the weather is too cold, it is best to assume that your dog is cold. If you cannot get into the water because of its freezing nature, don’t send your dog in there because free blood flow is needed to swim efficiently and cold water inhibits the flow of oxygen to the blood so blood drops to organs, away from the limbs which need it at that time.
If your dog is cold, its limbs become heavy and weak. It wouldn’t be able to swim and it risks getting drowned. So if you are cold, then know that your dog is equally cold.
If the weather is too hot, check the temperature of the water before your dog gets in. and check to see that your dog doesn’t have heatstroke. If it is already too hot and the water is too cold, the clash of temperatures may be fatal.
In such a situation, try to cool your dog’s temperature by applying cool water to its body and feeding it cool water or even ice cubes. Its temperature will slowly but surely go back to normal.
Be sure that the beach allows dogs
Not every beach allows for dogs to come on them. For some of them, dogs are allowed when it is not summer. If you find one that allows dogs, bring a leash so that your dog doesn’t go running off or frightening people; not everyone likes dogs.
Be sure to obey all the rules given by that beach. Do not take anyone for granted so that you don’t become the reason other people can’t bring their dogs, or pets for that matter, to the beach.
Don’t be too anxious; your dog will be fine. This list is not exhaustive but these are basics. Do these but never forget the number one reason for going out there in the first place: to have some fun. So have some fun!