Introducing Your Dog to Water

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How to Introduce Your Dog to Water

How to Introduce Your Dog to Water
damedeeso/Deposit Photos

As a dog owner, you want to be able to enjoy the summer season with your dog, which means bringing your dog along your travels. Your summer excursions will often include a body of water, such as the ocean or lake. To ensure you and your dog enjoy your vacation together, learn how to introduce your dog to water. We dive into the precautions you should take prior to leaving for your getaway.

Not All Dogs Can Swim

It’s important to consider that not all dogs can swim well enough to be completely safe when in or around water, but dog training classes can provide them with useful skills. Basset Hounds, French Bulldogs and English Bulldogs, for example, have very short legs that usually can’t move quickly enough to keep their bodies afloat. Also, dogs of breeds that naturally have a low body fat percentage, such as Doberman Pinschers and Boxers, are more likely to sink. While many dogs love water and can swim without a problem, others really don’t like water or are afraid of it. This can inhibit their ability to swim. Remember: any dog can drown and hypothermia is always a risk.

RELATED: Keep an Eye Out for Signs of Heat Stroke in Dogs

Introducing Your Dog to Water

Assess Your Dog’s Skills

Begin by assessing your dog’s skills in a swimming pool or just off the shore of a lake or ocean. Never throw your dog in the water. Introduce him to swimming slowly without encouraging a negative reaction. If he seems happy and proficient at swimming, you can attempt an outing on your boat or at the beach, but keep your first outing brief.

Use a Canine Flotation Device

Purchase a canine personal flotation device (PFD), as this can help your dog float in case he falls off a boat or gets pulled into the ocean. PFDs are vests that often come with a handle on the back, allowing dog owners to lift their pets out of the water.

When selecting a personal flotation device, make sure to bring your dog with you so you can have him try on several vests. You may also want to choose a vest in a color that stands out, such as neon yellow or orange. This can help you find your dog in the water.

RELATED: How to Keep Your Dog Happy in the Heat

Look Out for Heat Stroke Symptoms

Remember that the sun’s rays and heat are harmful not only to humans, but to dogs too. Dogs can get sunburned (especially those with short fur and/or pink skin) and suffer severe repercussions of heat stroke just as humans can.

Early signs of heat stroke include:

  • heavy panting
  • rapid breathing
  • excessive drooling
  • bright red gums and tongue
  • standing four-square in an attempt to maintain balance

White or blue gums, lethargy or unwillingness to move, uncontrollable urination or defecation, labored and noisy breathing, and shock are all signs of advanced stages of heat stroke.

You can cool your dog down by applying rubbing alcohol to his paw pads, applying ice packs to the groin area, hosing him down with water, and allowing him to lick ice chips or drink a small amount of water. Pedialyte to restore electrolytes is also recommended. If your dog is not cooling down, immediately take him to your veterinarian.

Does your dog like the water? How often do you go swimming together? Tell us in the comments below!

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