Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Safe Summer Swimming

As we head into the heat of the summer, you might be thinking about taking your dog swimming.  If you are like me, I have never BEEN swimming, and my person doesn't even know if I can.  FIDOfriendly has some tips on making it fun and safe.  Notably--don't just throw your dog in the water because some dogs don't actually know how to swim.  Check their website for a full list of DON'Ts, but here is their list of DOs:
  • Let your dog escape once they go in.
  • Let your dog decide they are done for the day.
  • Try using toys/food as a bribe to get in, BUT be sure to REWARD (more treats/play) AFTER the dog gets in even if they pop out.
  • Use really, really tasty treats or your dog favorite toy.
  • Start with a shallow pool and clear water with no waves or spray.
The most important thing to keep in mind is that you need to make it safe and fun, but if your dog just isn't interested in swimming, that is ok.  

My cousin Madison LOVES to swim, and she is pictured here having the time of her life in the Wenatchee River in Washington State. Madison has some joint problems, so regular swimming is a great way for her to get some exercise without putting extra pressure on her knees and hips.  Plus, she thinks it is fun, which is the most important part.  


  1. Scoop. Get into the water. Put one paw in front of the other in front of the other in front of the other. Repeat.

  2. Silver, our deaf BC puppy, loves the water and he cannot wait to get in, head first, and wet...then he swims like an otter...two of our other dogs like to swim , the other two only wade...great way to cool off and exercise. We have kiddie pools for the dogs in the yard for those days when we don't go swimming!

  3. I still remember Jasmine's first time to swim. She always loved water, but it didn't look like swimming was something she wanted to try.

    Then one day as we were playing in the water she got to a deeper spot and her body started swimming. That was quite a shock to her - her body doing these weird things without her consent - and she immediately turned back to shore.

    The next day though, we were going by a little pond and there was an interesting leaf floating on it. She was interested in the leaf, remembered her experience from the previous day and decided to swim up to it to check it out.

    She's been swimming ever since and loves it.

    I do not agree with people who teach their dogs to swim by throwing them into water. When there is the right time, your dog will figure it out on his own.

  4. Madison is the best cousin!!! She is the only swimmer, well maybe Lily, but she never tried and is not afraid of the water...

  5. My terrier is a great swimmer... but he hates it. My other... doesn't really *get* swimming. She doesn't understand that she needs to use her back legs... poor thing :)

  6. @Rod, I feel like you might be poking fun at me a little. Not every dog can travel the lakes and beaches of the country learning to swim!