Doggie Paddle Isn’t For All Dogs

There’s a swimming stroke called the dog paddle that most humans manage to master quite well. But interestingly, swimming is not a natural instinct for all dogs. There are a surprisingly large number of dog breeds (and mutts) that don’t know how to swim, and are even scared of water.

When it comes to amphibious talents, natural swimmers include water spaniels, Golden Retrievers, Irish setters, English setters, and the Newfoundland, which actually has webbed feet like a duck. Generally, dogs with short legs or those that are sturdily built, such as bulldogs, are not good swimmers.

And of course your dog’s temperament also plays a role. Some dogs are simply scared of water and tend to panic and, in fact, if they are unattended, can drown.

Like small children, dogs should never be left alone near a pool. As an additional safety measure, it’s a good idea to let your dog wear a doggie life vest when he’s hanging around the pool or going boating with the family.

If you are sure that your dog is comfortable around water, you can give him a few swimming lessons to help perfect his skills.

Take him into the pool, as you would a small child. Use toys to entice him to swim toward a goal.

Never try and teach him when there is a lot of activity poolside. He will need peace and quiet.

Once again, it’s also a good idea to have him in a life vest to boost his confidence and put your hand under his tummy so that he knows that you are there for him – just as you would a child.

It goes without saying that its not a good idea to throw any dog into water and attempt the “sink or swim” technique.  And similarly, if you see your dog is really uncomfortable in the water, abort the lesson immediately.

It’s really important that your dog knows where the shallow end is and where the steps are (assuming there are concrete-type steps in the pool.) There are also special floating ramps that can be placed in a pool to assist pets in getting out of the water. They are a good idea whether your pet is a strong swimmer or not.

If your dog does enjoy the water, there are lots of wonderful floating dog toys that will keep him and family members engaged in water-borne fun. And, if he prefers to be a spectator, make sure he has plenty of water to stay hydrated and some shade to nap.

Lastly, remember to have fun!


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