Ready To Go Swimming With Your Dogs?

Lindsey ZimmermanDog Safety

Summertime means barbeques, trips to the pool or lake, and plenty of family and friend time.  As summer temperatures begin to soar, there is nothing more refreshing than a dip in the pool or lake. Because your dogs go most of the places you probably go, it’s important for you to know whether they can swim or not.

Some dogs LOVE to swim, for others it’s a learned behavior, and still others will NEVER want to swim. Just because their breed is identified as one that loves to swim, never assume your dog knows how to swim. Never toss a puppy or newly adopted dog into a lake or pool unless you are there to save him in case he panics or gets tired. This could traumatize the dog and lead to a quick end to your water sports!

What Breed Loves or Dislike Swimming
Some dogs are born to swim and are very good at swimming. These breeds include:

  • Standard Poodle
  • Newfoundland
  • Labrador retrievers
  • Golden retrievers
  • Chesapeake bay retriever
  • English & Irish setters
  • Water spaniel
  • Otterhound
  • Irish setters
  • Portugese & Spanish water dogs
  • Barbet
  • Lagotto Romagnolo
  • Nova Scotia duck tolling retriever

Dogs that may be water shy include:

  1. Chihuahua
  2. Yorkshire terrier
  3. Pekingese
  4. Dachsund
  5. Maltese
  6. Shih tzu
  7. Pomeranian
  8. Greyhounds
  9. Bichon fries
  10. Lhasa apso

Introducing swimming

To know if your dog likes to swim or not, begin by introducing him/her to the water while you are in the water. You can even start with a baby pool then progress to larger bodies of water. If you’re at the lake and your dog begins to follow you, be sure to praise him. If he hesitates, throw a tennis ball or his favorite toy (that floats) into the water. Some dogs will swim because they see other dogs frolicking in the water.

Water safety is up to you. Know that puppies may tire out easily and may not even realize they are exhausted. Stay away from strong currents or underwater debris that could entangle your dog. Even if your dog is a good swimmer, never allow him to be alone in a pool or lake by himself … keep him in eyesight.

Just because your dog doesn’t like to swim doesn’t mean he can’t enjoy the lake. Take along some play toys, cool drinking water and a bucket. If your dog gets hot, take a bucket and soak him frequently, especially his belly.

A Boating Excursion
If your dog isn’t fond of swimming, consider a boat or canoe.  Start getting your dog used to the boat while it’s sitting in your driveway, making sure he knows how to safely get in and out. Also, even if your dog can swim, have him wear a life vest in case the water gets choppy or he falls overboard. Here are some other safety tips:

  • Your dog may like a crate on the boat to get out of the hot sun.
  • Make sure your dog has pet identification.
  • Bring clean water – you never know what type of bacteria is in the lake. Also bring some toys and treats.
  • If your dog has a light-colored nose or fur, consider sunscreen that is made especially for pets.
  • Give your dog a bath when you get home. You never know what could be clinging to your dog’s fur.

The main thing to remember is have fun with your dog whether you’re swimming, kayaking or boating … and be safe!  If traveling out of state, camping around lakes or streams, even hiking, be sure to check with your vet about relevant vaccines for waterborne diseases.