Whilst not all dogs are fantastic swimmers, your canine may love being in the water. If this is the case, it’s essential to provide a safe place for them to swim. This includes putting them in shallow water if their build and body is limiting them from being a good swimmer.
Dogs with short legs, muzzle or a heavy chest may find the effort of swimming really hard work. Even some dogs that are built for swimming just won’t enjoy going out of their depth.
When introducing your dog to the water, do it gradually and slowly so they feel comfortable and won’t panic. Never toss them into the water. Dogs can tire easily, so don’t keep them in the water for too long, especially if they’re a puppy or older dog.
If your dog has a short muzzle, legs or a heavy chest, consider getting them to wear a lifejacket before they head out for a swim. This will help to support their neck, allowing them to breathe without accidentally dipping their head under water. A lifejacket will also help you to support your dog if you’re swimming with them in the water.
Before you let your dog loose in the water, take a moment to assess how safe it looks. Crucially, don’t let your dog in the water unless you are completely certain they can easily get back on land. If you wouldn’t enter the water yourself, don’t put your dog at risk, either. When introducing your dog to the water, do it gradually and slowly so they feel comfortable and won’t panic. Never toss them into the water. Dogs can tire easily, so don’t keep them in the water for too long, especially if they’re a puppy or older dog. Once your dog is in the water, supervise them at all times. Below we have listed some handy tips for introducing your dog to water/ swimming.
- Its best to start off in a clean, shallow moving water for their first swim. Avoid the sea initially as tides and currents can be intimidating to a first-time swimmer.
- Take it slowly – don’t force your dog into the water if they aren’t keen. Start off by letting them get their feet wet and get steadily deeper.
- Be prepared to get wet yourself! Sometimes the best way to encourage your dog is to have them follow you in, but make sure you keep your eyes on them at all time.
Natural Water Swims
Natural water sources such as lakes and rivers can be a great place for your dog to swim. Before letting your dog loose make sure to check for the below;
- Is the depth of water and speed of the current safe for your dog?
- Is there any nesting wildlife that your dog may disturb or cause stress to?
- Is the water clean, free of sharp objects and there are no signs highlighting any dangerous algae for dog – find out more here
Even though the beach can be a great place to take your dog for a swim, it does present different challenges and dangers to swimming in fresh water. However, it is a great place to take dogs who are confident swimmers. Before taking your dog to the beach for a swim consider the below;
- Are dogs allowed on the beach – Find out more here
- The strength of the currents and tides, especially if there are any presence of any riptides.
- Weather conditions – Its best to avoid bad weather, especially strong winds and low visibility.
- How busy is the beach and is there anything which may distract your dog or cause them stress?
Always remember to bring a supply of fresh water with you when your dog goes swimming, so it won’t be tempted to drink harmful water sources, and to ensure it stays hydrated. If a dog drinks too much salt water from the sea this can trigger diarrhoea, vomiting and even dehydration.
Remember if the weather is really hot don't over exert your dog (i.e. throwing balls for them fetch), as this can cause them to overheat. Instead just let them cool themselves down with a paddle.
Finally, wherever your dog's been for a swim, it's a good idea to give them a good wash once you get home. This will help clean their fur of anything they might have picked up in the water.