If you are heading away with your dog and plan on staying near a river, beach or other waterway, it is really important to keep your dog safe. Here are my top tips to keep your dog safe in water.
1. Not all dogs can swim, try out in shallows first
Dog’s aren’t always natural swimmers and can drown as fast (or faster) than a person, so don’t assume your dog will take to the water and be able to stay afloat. Try him out in shallow water before a big excursion to keep your dog safe in water.
2. Use a Floatation Device
If you are heading out on the water in a boat or kayak, for example, even if your dog can swim it should be wearing a floatation device. It will not only keep him or her afloat, but it makes them easier to spot and gives you something to grab if he jumps or falls in.
3. Beware of heavy / panicking dogs
Dogs that are heavy on land are way heavier in the water when you’re trying to pull them back into your boat. They may also panic, so make sure you can handle your dog out of your and his natural environments to keep your dog safe in water.
4. Keep your dog close
Even dogs that swim well can tire very quickly, even faster than you, because they don’t understand the concept of resting or treading water – they just swim and swim, until they can’t anymore. When swimming with your dog, don’t let your him swim too far away from you, because he could get into trouble quickly.
5. Don’t force your dog into water
If your dog doesn’t like the water, don’t force him go in! It could scare him and will create a negative association with water. Given you are going to need to wash your dog at some pint him their life, that’s not a good situation to create.
6. Slowly introduce your dog to water positively
If there is a reason that you must have your dog in water and you want to start getting them used to it, remember as with any training you need to use treat, praise or whatever they respond best to, to create a positive association with being around water.
Then use very small, positive steps to get closer to your end goal of having them cope and possibly even enjoy with being in the water. This can never be rushed and literally should be just one small, positive step at a time.
7. Tie them up/keep crated when not around
If you are caravanning or camping near waterways, make sure you don’t let your dog out of your sight when near water, even if they are a good swimmer to keep your dog safe in water.
Always tether or crate them when leaving them alone to help avoid any accidents.
8. Check the area for hazards
If staying near any waterways where people may have been fishing, keep an eye out for fish hooks that may still have scraps of bait on them.
Others don’t always think about the threat they might be posing to dogs when they discard unwanted rubbish.
About the Author: Lara Shannon is a NDTF certified dog behaviourist and trainer, Executive Producer and Host of Pooches at Play on Channel 10 and editor of Poochesatplay.com. Lara also runs her own dog training and boarding business in Melbourne’s Bayside area and is the Author of Eat, Play, Love Your Dog.