This post was last updated on March 27th, 2018 at 11:03 am
1 – Don’t leave your dog unsupervised by the Pool
People often think every dog is a natural swimmer. Truth is, dogs know how to instinctively “dog paddle” but not every dog takes to the pool like a duck takes to water.
And just because they can paddle doesn’t mean they stay calm and relaxed when in water.
In fact, drowning is by far the biggest risk when it comes to dogs and pools. This includes every dog from puppies to “water dogs” to non-swimming breeds and elderly and sick dogs.
Any panicking dog can drown regardless what makes them panic. An accidental fall during play, not being used to water, not finding their way out because it’s dark or having water in their eyes – all of that could have fatal consequences.
Many owners of “non-water dogs” and geriatric dogs get a life vest for them to be on the safe side.
2 – Teach your dog WHERE to leave the water
Dogs may have trouble finding the exit when they panic, especially in the dark. White exit ramps will be visible for a dog even in the dark, pool steps aren’t.
3. Teach your dog HOW to exit the pool
If there is even a slight chance for your dog to get into the swimming pool do show him where the steps or the ladder to get out are.
In this video a dog jumps in and then orients herself towards the ladder and climbs out. Good girl!
What if your dog can’t handle the ladder?
Beware, that not every dog can climb a ladder like that. In fact, getting water in the eyes or swallowing water can quickly lead to stress and the dog may not find the ladder or even the steps in that situation or at night. One of the best solutions is a safety ramp :
4 – Set Boundaries – Entering the pool only with permission
If you are considering getting a dog why not setting boundaries right from the beginning? Training your dog to enter the pool only with permission will decrease the risk of accidents, especially if your dog is often unsupervised.
5 – Give your dog a rest
Dogs can overdo exercise, and just like people end up with sore, fatigued and stiff muscles. So make sure you increase the amount of activity slowly and steadily.
Some dogs can become obsessed with the fetch game and it’s then up to you to stop as soon as they get tired.
How do you spot tiredness?
You’ll notice that the rear is hanging lower resulting in less powerful swimming.
Another sign to look out for is overexcitment and stimulation. The dog moves about at a crazy pace with wide eyes. That’s the point where you need to stop and allow your dog to calm down.
Heat stroke is a real danger in hot summer weather. Even though the water helps to cool the body, energetic play like chasing after toys can increase the internal temperature to really dangerous levels, even while being in water.
Do all dogs swim?
No. Whether a dog swims comes down to two things: breed and personality. While all dogs instinctively “doggie paddle”, not all of them can actually keep themselves afloat. And some, even if they can, just don’t want to.
Labradors, poodles, Newfoundlands, German shorthair pointers, Brittany spaniels, Chesapeake Bay retrievers, water spaniels and Golden Retrievers are very good swimmers. They lie flat in water and swim very efficiently.
Compare these with shortlegged breeds like the dachshund or bulldog and it’s easy to see how their butt hangs low and their leg length just isn’t up to swimming.
Short-faced breeds like the pug can usually swim, but not for long because they get tired very quickly.
Breeds aside, some dogs just don’t like to go into the water.
And some do go into the pool …and like to walk! Watch, it’s hilarious.
Or, do nothing…
Read more about dogs and swimming on animalplanet.com