Most dogs can swim, and love it. Dogs entering the water for the first time should be tested to be certain they are capable of swimming. Here are some tips for teaching your dog to swim:
- Never throw your dog into the water.
- Start in shallow water, and call your dog's name. You can also try to lure him in with a treat or toy -- but always keep your dog within reach.
- Find a dog friend for your dog to swim with. Let your dog play and follow his friend into the water.
- If your dog starts to dog-paddle with only his front legs, lift his hindquarters and help him float. He should quickly catch on and will then keep his rear end up.
- Swimming is a great form of exercise, but watch that your dog doesn't overdo. He will be using new muscles and may tire quickly.
- Be careful of strong tides that are hazardous for even the strongest swimmers.
- Never leave your dog unattended! You should always be in a position to get your dog out of the water.
Taking your dog to the beach is a great way to spend a beautiful summer day, just remember to take precautions and be a responsible dog owner.
- Bring plenty of fresh water and shade for you dog.
- Dogs can get sunburned, especially short haired dogs and pink skinned dogs with white or light hair. Limit your dogs exposure to the sun when it is the strongest, and apply a non-toxic sunscreen to his ears and nose 30 minutes before going outside.
- Check with a lifeguard for daily water conditions. (In salt water locations dogs are easy targets for sea lice and jellyfish.)
- If your dog isn't particularly fit, don't encourage him to run on the sand. Running on sand is strenuous exercise, and a dog that is out of shape can easily pull a muscle, tendon or ligament.
- Do not let your dog drink too much water during his cool dip. There may be substances in the water that will make your dog sick. (In salt water locations, the salt will definitely make your dog sick.)
- Chemicals, minerals and salt found in the water can damage your dog's coat. When you are ready to leave for the day, rinse your dog off with fresh water.
- Not all beaches permit dogs. Check local ordinances before you begin your beach combing excursion.
Image of "Thunder" from Rain Mountain Chinooks.