Swimming with your Dog

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Dogs either love or hate the water. Those who love it will enjoy swimming, playing in the shallows, or even splashing around in a plastic pool. Discovering that love may take a little coaxing combined with a gradual introduction to water.

Teaching Your Dog to Swim
Some dogs don’t take much training – or any at all. You may only need to show your dog a body of water and in he’ll go. If not, though, try going in phases. And remember, praise and rewards can work wonders.

·  During warm months, provide a small plastic pool with only enough water in it to go up to the first joint on your dog’s front leg.

·  Encourage your dog by stepping into the pool yourself.

·  Take a toy into the pool and make a game of it. Cheer him on for braving this new experience.

·  As your dog gets more comfortable, add more water an inch or so at a time.

·  When you first visit a pond or lake, make sure the water is clean and watch for broken glass and torn metal.

·  Only use a nontightening collar in the water and do not allow your dog to drag his lead. The lead could get tangled on something underwater.

·  Wade into the water and play in the shallows with your dog. Be enthusiastic! Bring a toy. Slowly, work your way out until the water is just deeper than your dog can reach and encourage him to come to you. Praise him when he reaches you, but watch for scratching claws – he may try to climb on you. If he’s not quite brave enough yet, keep playing in the shallow end – give him time. Do not drag him in deeper.

·  Continue this, slowly increasing depth. Be ready to gently guide your dog around you, as some dogs will try to climb on you at first. Many dogs panic a bit during their first swim and splash a great deal. Gently supporting your dog under his belly can help him gain confidence.

·  If the water is deep or you go out on a boat, put a life vest on your dog.

·  If you have a pool and invite your dog in for a swim, rinse his coat thoroughly to help prevent dry skin. Never allow your dog around any pool unsupervised.

Things to Consider Before Swimming
Make sure the kind of swimming you want to do is appropriate for your dog. Some breeds like the water more than others, and some are better swimmers. Breeds built low and heavy, including Bulldogs and Bassets, can do more sinking than swimming and need to be protected around water.

If you’re just looking to play in the water or introducing a puppy to water for the first time, try following these instructions. But if your dog is clearly terrified or unhappy even after trying to acclimate, you may want to save the water for bath time only.

 

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