If your dog truly loves the water, it’s okay to allow them to swim unsupervised as much as they want, right? No way! Sure, there are dogs you probably don’t have to worry about as much as others around the water’s edge, but all pets deserve close observation any time they’re close to a pool, lake, river, or ocean.
This summer, don’t allow dog swimming safety to drift away. Be prepared, stay aware, and prevent water-related accidents or injuries.
No Unrestricted Access
Even dogs with significant skills can find trouble in the water. If you have a pool, pond, or other type of water feature on your property, do not allow your dog to have unrestricted access to it. A fence around it is ideal, and some even have alarm systems that alert you if trespassed.
Similarly, pool or hot tub covers are critical when sharing the backyard with a curious canine. Ramps can come in handy if/when a dog goes in the water and needs help getting out. Train your dog to always exit the water the same way every time, so they can easily remember how to get out.
A major boon to overall water safety involves basic obedience. If your dog can demonstrate an understanding of commands, like sit, stay, leave it, heel, down, and come, they’ll remain safer than those who abandon any discipline when near water.
Know the Score
Some dogs are simply built better for doggy paddling than others, such as heavy, barrel-chested breeds. Bulldogs, Basset Hounds, and Pugs have greater difficulty staying afloat when their legs cannot touch the bottom, exposing them to greater risk of drowning or aspirating water.
A personal flotation device, or PFD, is vital to dog swimming safety. Even if your pet can swim, they can tire out quickly and may not be able to find their way out in time. As a general rule, it’s a great idea to get your dog accustomed to the idea of a PFD prior to them needing it, and the sooner the better.
Other Elements of Dog Swimming Safety
Before heading out to a natural body of water, check the weather. Conditions on rivers and oceans can change quickly, and tides sneak up when unprepared. Likewise, underwater hazards can become dangerous when the water picks up speed.
It’s a good rule of thumb to never allow your dog to drink the water they’re swimming in, but it’s especially toxic to swallow certain kinds of algae or pollution. Always bring fresh, cool water for your pet to drink while out and about, and be sure to encourage breaks from swimming.