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Swim Tips for Dogs

The Main Point: Learning to swim can be fun for dogs. Safety should come first.

Word Count: 532

Read Time: 2 minutes

Swimming is great exercise for dogs. It is also lots of fun and can cool them off on hot days!

Before swimming in any body of water, from ocean to pool, ensure your dog is a strong swimmer and knows how to get out! Go in with him and lead him to the exit from several different locations.

Go Shallow: Get paws wet first. Then, slowly tempt with treats into deeper water. When you feel your dog is ready, gently pull into deeper water, a short time at first. Gradually increase time of swim with you.

Go slow and gently. Never force a dog to swim by throwing her in the water or suddenly pulling her out. Lots of encouragement, praise, and perhaps some high value treats is the path to success. Floats and doggie life vests can add to the ease of learning.

Swimming does not come naturally for all dogs. They may not know to use the hind legs as well as the front. To teach your dog to use them, simply hold them up as he paddles with his front ones. He will soon catch on! Using four legs gives your dog a stronger swim stroke.

True Story: Our son used to take our first labradoodle. Coco, along on most adventures. He loved to fish. We lived in Texas then, near Austin. Reiner's Ranch, where the Perdenales River winds through a cliffy area, is a great fishing spot. My son waded across the river at a low spot, then hiking upstream to a high rock, cast his line. I walked up on the opposite side, Coco following me. Suddenly Coco stood up, on the alert. She had caught sight of her best buddy! Without pause, she dove into the swiftly flowing current. It was about ten feet deep here. She paddled across, being the loyal labradoodle she is. She'd never been swimming other than wading! Determined, she made it to the other side!

The moral: Teach your dog to swim, or bring a life jacket near water! Your dog may risk everything for the love of you, and being close to you.

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