Safety First

First off, invest in a quality lifejacket. Accidents can happen even to the most aquatic of dogs, and having them floaty and safe will give both you and him some peace of mind. (…) is a good example. Taking your dog to the store with you in order to get a nice and secure fit is a good idea.

Believe it or not, not all dogs instinctively know how to, or even can, swim. This can be true of short legged (such as dachshunds), squashed face (such as pugs) or skinny dogs (such as whippets). Some dogs will even sink like a stone if thrown into the water for an instant ‘lesson’, such as greyhounds and bulldogs. Don’t worry though; all dogs can learn to love the water, with the added flotation of a lifejacket and a bit of quality time.

Fun in the Sun

Start by teaching your dog that water can be fun, and doesn’t necessarily mean bath-time and a sponge. It’s best to begin somewhere that gently slopes into the water, so that your dog can gradually walk deeper and deeper without having to take a sudden plunge. If you don’t have access to that luxury, a child’s paddling pool is a good way to begin the introduction.

Arm yourself with lots of their favourite treats and toys, and begin to lure your dog into the water. Just paw deep at first is fine; you just want to build up a positive association. Have some good games or food rewards, even tossing them into the water for your dog to fetch out. Some good floaty toys include (…)

Doggy Paddle

Over time, you can start to move the fun deeper and deeper. With a lifejacket on they may not even notice as their paws leave the floor. If your dog is struggling, support underneath their stomach to encourage them to kick with their back legs. Many dogs paddle stronger and stronger with their front paws and forget about the back, causing their bottoms to sink.

Keep encouraging and rewarding your newly paddling pooch, and pretty soon they will be diving in and out to retrieve their toys and food rewards, or to cool off out of the sun.

Drying Off

Remember to thoroughly wash and dry your dog after they have been swimming, to remove any algae, toxins or chlorine from their coat. Don’t ever throw your dog into the water either; if any gets into their ears it is difficult for them to get out and makes them very prone to ear infections.

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