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Does Your Dog Swim Too?


Some dogs, especially those born with webbed paws and water-resistant coats, are inherently drawn to the water. These dog breeds, which include the Portuguese Water Dog and Labrador Retrievers, are known to be exceptional swimmers. However, enjoying time in the pool isn’t limited to specific breeds.

Chances are your pet is ready to jump into the pool with the family on any given day. If that’s the case and your pool isn’t enclosed, you might want to consider it. Providing a barricade will make life a lot less hectic when out in the yard and bent on making their way into the pull.

Is your dog a strong, confident swimmer? Or do you keep an eye out because the poor thing seems to take an eternity to swim back to the edge after making a frenzied leap into the water? If your pooch tends to shy away from the pool, a bit of patience and a lot of love can help them conquer their fear.

Teaching your dog to swim

The first step in teaching your pup to love the water is introducing them to it gradually. That way they can venture in at their own pace continuously feeling safe and comfortable. That’s a key component to the outcome. Never force your pet into the water if they show fear or anxiety. If your dog becomes panicked, getting them anywhere near the pool again could become a huge undertaking.

If you have a walk-in pool, enter the shallow water and let your pup explore. They may walk out until they can’t and then start swimming! You can use positive reinforcement—including floating toys—to build confidence while encouraging your dog to come farther out. Stay close by because your nearness provides emotional support and reassurance. Using a leash isn’t out of the question if your dog is an excitable puppy or easily frightened.

As the water becomes deeper, support their body by placing your hands under their belly. Of course, this won’t be necessary if you are equipping your pet with a life jacket, however, the additional support of your physical touch may be beneficial nonetheless.

Continue praising your dog for their progress, using treats is also great because it equates swimming to a positive experience. Once they are at ease, put a short distance between you and your dog and call them. This encourages them to use their legs to move through the water. Once they realize they can move through the water, your little swimmer will likely be ready for a game of pool fetch!

Always supervise your dog when it’s in the pool. Watch for signs of fatigue and provide a rest break when needed.

Swimming lessons are available

Professional trainers or swimming facilities in your area could offer swimming classes for your dog. A quick search online should provide you with a list of those in your area providing lessons. Does your dog goes to doggy daycare with a swimming pool If so, your provider may offer swimming lessons. Some provide classes open to non-client groups as well.

Attending group lessons can be beneficial because you will have the opportunity to learn alongside others. If your dog is extremely social, it’s a great way for them to learn to love the water.

Swimming accessories for your dog

You don’t have to purchase swimming accessories marketed for dogs, but they are certainly available. Of course, anything that floats can become a pool toy for fetching! And some family pets even enjoy chilling on a pool float, soaking up some rays with sunglasses on.

We mentioned doggy life jackets above which can bring you peace of mind—especially if your dog isn’t a strong swimmer. Installing a pool alarm provides peace of mind too. Did you know they market sunscreen for dogs? It’s not uncommon for thin-haired dogs to get a burn. Check with your vet for the best option for your pet.

Pool precautions

We mentioned keeping an eye on your dog while they swim and if your pool doesn’t have walk-in accessibility, it’s important to install a special ladder that allows your dog to exit the water by himself. It builds confidence, of course, but should your pet make it to the pool without your knowledge, the odds that they will exit safely increase tenfold.

Don’t allow your dog to drink water from the pool. Too much chlorine is bad for them. Symptoms that they have ingested too much are usually mild and include mild gastrointestinal issues. Have an available water bowl for your pup when hanging poolside with the family.

Chlorine can cause your dog’s skin to dry out just as it does us. If you notice your dog licking their paws repeatedly after swimming, their pads could be irritated. Chlorine can affect your dog’s fur too, even causing it to change color. Giving them a good rinse when they exit the pool helps avoid these issues. Applying a conditioner before they get in the pool can help too.

Some dogs, especially those with floppy ears, are prone to getting water in their ears. This can eventually lead to ear infections if left untreated. Give the insides of your dog’s ears a quick rub with a cotton ball after swimming. Should you notice your dog shaking their head or pawing at their ears, call the vet and get it checked out sooner than later.

Dive into summer

Sweltering summer days are part of life around here. We know how to get the most out of them whether we’re beach-bound or hanging out on the lanai. If your family loves spending them poolside as often as possible, we hope your pet does too! Their lively antics are sure to entertain, and they love it when you laugh. You can be sure that the sound of it is even more satisfying than that huge SPLASH when they hit the water!