If this is your first summer with a new puppy or dog, you might already be contemplating taking them swimming. Here in Maryland, we have plenty of dog beaches and dog-friendly water areas and activities for our pups to enjoy. However, for first-time swimmers (or at least the first time with you as their owner), it can be a little daunting to bring your dog to deeper water. Here are some tips and tricks for making your first foray into the water with your dog safer and more comfortable.
Always remember a life vest for you and your dog during water activities – safety first!
Get Them Into the Water
Some dogs will take to the water as if they were a fish in their past life, excitedly running in without any reservations. In this case, it’s best to keep a close eye on them and do your best to keep them within a reasonable distance so that you can respond quickly if they begin to struggle.
For the more reserved pups, your best bet is to bring whatever you normally use to train them. For most dogs, this is usually some kind of delectable treat that they’re willing to push their limits to get to. For others, this might be a favorite toy or other item.
Bring them into the water slowly, giving them time to adjust to it before coaxing them in further. Do not throw your dog into the water. Keep an eye on their swimming technique and ability so that you can help them if needed.
Another way to help dogs adjust to the water is by introducing them to water in the company of another dog that loves to swim. This can sometimes help dogs approach the water as they want to swim and play with their friend.
Lend a Helping Hand
According to the AKC, some dogs will do their doggy paddle with only their front legs. This will strain those limbs more quickly and cause the dog’s rear to sink. If you see your dog doing this, lift their hindquarters until they start kicking their back legs. Most dogs will catch on fairly quickly and start using all four legs to swim, which is safer for them and more efficient.
Remember to Practice Good Safety
Never leave your dog unattended while they are in the water. The water is a joy to be in for both dogs and people, but it is also a force of nature that can turn on you very quickly. For a dog that is an inexperienced swimmer, these dangers are amplified significantly. You should always keep your pup within arm’s reach while they are in the water so that you can respond quickly in case of trouble.
Your pooch might discover that they really love the water and they don’t want to come back to land. You will need to watch the time and keep an eye on your dog’s behavior. If they start looking tired or are struggling to paddle, bring them back to shore to rest—don’t let them overdo it.
Don’t forget to bring important safety products along with you to make your experience safer and more pleasant. Did you know that dogs can get sunburned? You can purchase sunscreen that is made specifically for dogs—do not use regular sunscreen meant for people on your dog. You can also purchase a doggy life vest, which can make that first trek into the water a lot safer.
Trust Maryland Veterinary Surgical Services With Your Companion’s Health
Your companion’s health is important, and the team at MVSS is ready to provide the best care possible for your furry family. We are dedicated to combining comprehensive exams and assessments with informative and honest discussions of your companion’s care. Once we have worked with you to decide on the best course of action for your dog, our professionals will use their surgical expertise to work towards the goal of giving your companion an active and pain-free life. We are proud to serve loyal companions in Catonsville and Baltimore. To learn more about our services, give us a call at 410-788-4088 or visit us online. For more information and tips for pet health, follow us on Facebook and Pinterest.