What makes Texas a great place to live is cooling off in your swimming pool. If you have a dog, you should encourage him to swim. However, it’s essential to teach your best friend a few lessons, especially if he has never swum before.
Before we go into how to teach your dog to swim, you must think about safety first. Here are a few safety facts that you probably didn’t know about when it comes to dogs and swimming:
Safety Always Comes First!
- Not all dogs are natural swimmers. So, a life-jacket for pets may be needed to help hold your dog’s head above the water. Remember, be extra careful with small, short-legged pets as they tend to be more distracted in situations with lots of noise.
- Make sure your dog is on a leash throughout the entire process of learning how to swim. It will help you control your pet from going too far into the water. You may take the leash off your dog once they feel safe and confident while swimming in the water.
- Dogs can get sunburns on their nose and ears. Visit your veterinarian and find out what sunscreen is right for your pet. In most cases, dogs love to have some time under the sun, and time in the shade.
- Dogs require a long time to digest their food after eating, unlike their human counterparts. Wait two hours prior to eating before taking your pet for a swim.
- Contact your veterinarian and ask if they can provide you a guideline on how to save your pet from drowning and have a pet’s first aid kit and Animal ER phone number on hand.
- NEVER EVER leave your dog unsupervised near the water! Some experts recommend placing a plant or a flag by the pool entrance. This helps to guide your four-legged friend to the entrance/exit of the pool. Make sure that your dog understands where the exits are in your swimming pool.
Step by Step
Many people think that throwing a dog into the water will make him swim. In fact, this is the worst mistake you can do for your pet; it will scare your dog. In addition to scaring you dog they likely will never try to go into the water again, even for a bath.
Instead, take it step by step. Do a gradual introduction by going to the shallowest area of your swimming pool where you can teach your pet how to swim. Have a life-jacket and attach the leash. Let your canine get his paws wet while getting used to being in the water.
In ten minutes, you can give the first lesson in the shallow end of the pool by doing the following:
- Place your pet gently in the water with his paws on top of the first step.
- Say “steps” while he gains his footing.
- Take them a short distance away and let your dog swim back to the steps.
- Increase the distance gradually as your dog gains more and more confidences.
After a few lessons with the steps, you can go with a more difficult task, staying afloat:
- Slowly, take your dog into deeper water and make sure your dog is paddling to stay afloat.
- You can use your hands, or arms (depending on the size of the dog), under the chest and tummy to give support to the pet. This will help your dog to synchronize the rear legs with the front legs while paddling.
- Check if your pet feels comfortable in the water and is using all four legs to swim.
- If your pet gets overly nervous or uncomfortable, return to the shallow area of your pool.
- Once your pet has calmed back down, take him back into the deeper water and try again.
A positive tone of voice helps your dog to be more confident while entering, swimming and exiting the pool. Also, keep toys and treats available to help motivate your dog to swim farther.
After the Swimming Lesson
Once the swimming lesson is over, praise your dog and show him how to safely get out of the swimming pool. Once your dog is safely out of the pool, rinse your dog off with fresh water. This will help to remove any chemical residue that may be in your dog’s fur. Lastly, as with any type of training, it is important to give lots praise with a treat, and lots of love. Doing this will help your dog to look forward to the next time he gets to spend time in the water.