When it is summertime, enjoying the water with your dog can be great fun. Swimming is as good for dogs as it is for people – a health promoting sport with great fitness benefits placing minimal wear and tear on joints. Just like people, most dogs can handle the physical demands of swimming. Some dogs are more proficient than others. They come hard-wired with more energy and efficiency in the water and better equipped with webbed feet! However, with the help of a quality life jacket, a pug can enjoy the water as much as a lab.

If you want swimming and water fun to be a part of your dog’s life, think carefully when first exposing your dog to water. Before starting a swimming program think about how your dog responds to water. Does she splash in every puddle; play in every water bowl and run to any large body of water? Even with a naturally water loving dog, never use compulsion to force your dog to enter a body of water. Just placing a puppy in a kiddy pool can create fear. Always let your dog choose to play in water.

The best way to create a water loving dog is to insure their safety with a quality life jacket. Even a dog with natural swimming ability can benefit from a good life jacket. The jacket promotes water confidence and will increase swimming time by reducing fatigue. When fitting a life jacket, buy the smallest jacket possible as long as the chest straps fit comfortably and it offers enough support and buoyancy.

Choose your dog’s swim locations with care. If you wouldn’t swim in the water, don’t allow you dog in the water. Check for any swimming hazards; submerged junk, fishing hooks or equipment, broken glass, wildlife that may harm your dog. Remember, a pool with steps is always more difficult for a dog to negotiate than a body of water with a walk in, gradual entry.

To start your dog on a lifetime of fun in the water, pick a warm sunny day, a clean, safe body of water with a gradual entry, take lots of floating toys and treats for rewarding water confidence.

~ Cynthia