Saturday, November 7, 2009

Dogs and Swimming

This charming new entry in The New York Times' Puppy Diaries series reminds us that many of our pooches love to swim. Dogs that range from Portuguese Water Dogs and Retrievers to Poodles and Newfoundlands were literally bred to paddle their paws, and swimming can be great exercise for pooches. Nonetheless, although it may seem to us humans that the dog paddle is hard-wired into every canine brain, not all dogs like swimming or know what to do when they enter the water.

Thus, swimming safety is as critical for Fido as it is for people. So, whether you live somewhere that permits swimming year-round, or you can only bring your furry friend to the beach during the summer, keep these safety rules in mind:

  • NEVER let Fido swim unattended or unsupervised.
  • Verify that your dog knows how to exit the water.
  • Be realistic about your dog's fitness and agility level and her desire to swim. Some dogs are perfectly happy walking around in ankle deep water, some dogs could spend all day paddling around the deep end of a pool and some are terrified at the mere thought of putting paw to water. Listen to your dog!
  • Don't toss Fido into the water, introduce him gradually so he doesn't panic and sink.
  • If you own a pool, be sure it is securely fenced in and covered when not in use.
  • Use safety equipment like entry and exit ramps and canine life jackets.
  • Wash your dog after his swim. Chlorine and lake or ocean water can leave stinky and irritating residue.
And, as Jill's grandfather used to say, don't let Fido swim on a full stomach.

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