Wouldn’t you assume that swimming is an integral part of being a dog? If so, that assumption is way wrong. Not every dog instinctively knows how to swim and some cannot swim at all! Most dogs enjoy the water every bit as much as we do but many have to be taught how to swim!
The pool is open at Holiday Barn, Glen Allen, and many of our guests are signed-up for a swimming package (Bow-Wow Luau, anyone?). Our Pet Care associates must keep many things in mind when leading a dog to the pool for the first time.
First of all, knowledge of the breed is important. Among the dogs that enjoy the water are setters, retrievers, most poodles, and many spaniels. Any dog who’s breed includes the word “water”, as in Portuguese or English Water Spaniel, are generally as comfortable in the water as a pig in mud! Stocky dogs, especially those with short legs, often find swimming difficult. Bulldogs, Dachshunds, Pugs, and Bassets are among the more notable “sinkers”. It is absolutely necessary for this group to wear a life vest or jacket. Good life vests also come with handles on the back which could come in handy when you need to haul your pet out of the water.
Secondly, “sink or swim” is NOT the correct technique! Don’t force the dog into the water. They can panic and drown just as easily as humans. Lead them into the shallow water slowly, and let them get used to having wet feet. If your dog is reluctant, don’t make him venture into deeper water with you. Don’t get frustrated or lose patience, and remember that every dog learns at his own pace. Stay calm and positive.
Support your dog’s weight as he learns. Many times dogs can paddle their front paws immediately, but it takes awhile for them to learn to use their rear legs. Use your arm to provide support under your dog’s belly if he appears to need the extra support. He will soon get the idea that he needs to kick those back legs in order to keep that form.
Bring an accomplished canine swimmer to the session. By using your dog’s natural pack instinct, you provide a situation where he can “follow the leader”. Seeing another dog swimming with ease will help to encourage your dog as well.
Lastly, never let them out of your sight. Keep your dog close to you, especially when swimming in the ocean or a lake. If you have a dog that tends to wander, use a light lead to keep him near.
Have fun! It will be worth it! When your dog is an accomplished swimmer, you will be able to have years of water fun with him! Your dog will be happy to be included in those family outings to the beach too!
Find out how you’re dog can start becoming more comfortable around the pool by participating in our doggie day care in Richmond, VA!