Happy wet havanese dog in an inflatable poolWhile there are certain breeds that absolutely-must-have-access-to-water-play-or-else, there are also pets who are shy, skittish, or downright afraid of water. The enthusiasm shared by water-loving dogs is often at odds with knowing what’s at stake on shorelines, boats, or by the pool. That’s why The Pet Experts are here to help you brush up on pet swimming safety.

Don’t Assume

Sure, there are some pets who have no interest in splashing about while others love the idea, but don’t know how to stay afloat. The doggie paddle is a bit of a misnomer; certain breeds that are heavier or ones with broad chests are poorly built for swimming. As an owner, it’s imperative that you teach your dog how to paddle effectively with all four legs.

Get Ready

Whether your pet is still a little water-shy or you’re training an overzealous swimmer, the best thing you can do is to be prepared with tactics for pet swimming safety.

Pet Swimming Safety 101

A controlled setting, such as a backyard pool, is the best place to teach and train your pet (the pool should be fenced in or have a safety cover when not in use). Public settings offer too many distractions, and your pet could end up in trouble.

  • Enter/Exit – Most pets must be taught how to properly enter and exit a pool. Many pets fall into pools accidentally and cannot find a way out. Placing a marker, such as a large potted plant, by the exit ladder or steps is helpful.  
  • Getting Comfortable – Once in the pool, encourage your pet to move around in the shallow end. Provide lots of affection and praise if your pet displays signs of discomfort or stress. Opt for another day if you sense he or she isn’t up to the task right now.
  • Over Time – A calm, confident pet will likely want to explore more of the pool once he or she becomes comfortable in the water. With your supervision, there’s no reason to hold back. Depending on your pet’s progress, you may encourage him or her to swim away from you for a bit. Constantly swimming from deeper water to the shallow end is a great way to remind your pet how to find a safer spot. Reinforce his or her understanding of exit points by repeatedly swimming back and forth.
  • Other Tips

    A life jacket or pet flotation device is essential to pet swimming safety. The Pet Experts also recommend brushing up on ways to prevent heatstroke. Keep an eye out for distressing symptoms, such as dark pink tongue and gums, staggering, or other physical impairments. Do not hesitate to seek emergency care.

    Fun in the Sun

    Pet swimming safety can be reinforced by spending time with other water-loving pets. Playing together (and following the safety rules) will also satisfy your pet’s need for socialization and exercise. Definitely a win-win situation!

    If you have additional questions about pet swimming safety or need a recommendation for swimming instructors in the area, please contact us. Enjoy!