The Water Bowl
Breed & Health Resources

5 Simple Swimming Safety Suggestions

By Lea Jaratz

lygerOne of the top items on my 2017 summer bucket list is to take Kayden swimming. I don’t think I’ve ever seen him so confident as when he’s swimming to fetch a gigantic stick off the shores of Lake Erie. We never had to teach him. Somehow he figured it out on his own. But that’s not as typical as many pet parents think. In fact, it took two summers of coaxing and praise to get our old retriever-mix Lyger (left) into the water, even with a life jacket on. Finally, one day I swam out far enough that he must have thought I needed rescuing, so he plopped himself in, paddled out to me, and had me carry him back to shore. If not for that experience, I don’t think I’d appreciate how tentative some dogs are about water.

There are a few basic tips that can help keep your dog safe near the water.

  • Remember, if it’s not safe for you to swim, it’s not safe for your dog either. Keep the wave height, currents, and bacterial levels in mind before either of you dive in.
  • dog-swimming-infographicDogs often leap into water without having an exit strategy. They can’t always get out of pools or back up to the dock without some assistance, so make sure they know where ramps or stairs are or be prepared to help.
  • Alarms and gates are a part of pool safety for kids and pets alike. I confess: I once let Lyger out into a friends’ fenced backyard unsupervised. He walked out onto a covered pool and fell in when the cover gave out. He seemed to like the adventure, but I hate to think what could have happened in the cold winter water. Lesson learned!
  • Life jackets are always a good idea. They’re cute on dogs, but they’re especially helpful if a dog jumps ship and needs help on the open water.
  • It’s a good idea to have fresh water on hand. Avoid letting dogs drink from open water or pools, as it’s just not good for their guts.

I’ll try to get pictures when we get Kayden out to the beach this summer. I hope you get a chance to enjoy the water with your dog, and maybe even share a snapshot with us. (Bonus points if she’s wearing a life jacket in the pic.)

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