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Swimming with your Pet: How to make it fun and safe!

Although not all dogs like water or swimming, they should be exposed to it for their own safety.
Here are some simple steps to help teach your dog to be safe and enjoy swimming…

Avoid excessive noise: Take the dog to a quiet pool or the shallow part of a lake. Avoid busy times, try early morning or early evening when there is less going on as it can be scary or distracting.

Put the lifejacket on the dog: While it is not mandatory, it allows you to take your hands off the dog without fear of drowning while practicing. It also prevents accidental drowning if a dog is in the water and out of your reach.

Use encouragement: Keep your voice upbeat and positive. Use treats and toys to entice your dog to go in the water.

Never throw them in: You want it to be a positive experience. If they don’t want to do it, don’t force them to do it. Slowly lead them in the water and get their paws used to it. Go a little bit farther each time. If the dog is learning to swim in a pool, use the stairs to the pool. Put him in the water at the same spot.

Support their weight until they paddle: Hold your dog’s middle and hind end and allow him to paddle using all four legs just like he’s running. Make sure he is not just using his front two legs which can cause him to sink. His rear end should extend up and his neck should point down. Be mindful of the specific needs of your dog’s breed. Each dog’s physical structure and body type will greatly impact their swimming ability. 

Show them how to get out: This is especially important in a pool since there may only be one way for the dog to exit. Spend time practicing the exit process. Dogs can panic if they don’t know how to get out of the water. Reinforce the command “Come” in the water so they respond as well as they do on land.

Keep an eye on them: In open water they can get lost or go too far for their abilities. You want to make sure that you watch where they’re going. Things can change quickly if they run into trouble you will need to act fast. Keep floatation devices nearby, as dogs can panic and accidently injure a person trying to rescue them..

Wash the dog: Wash off with shampoo after swimming. You want to remove chlorine or any other irritating substances. Dry them off and remove wet collars etc, Pay special attention to their ears, groin and armpits as hot spots can occur.

Cats that enjoy water can use similar techniques to encourage swimming. Swimming in a confined area is likely the safest option so they don’t run off. A harness and leash under the lifejacket would also be beneficial.

Don’t let any pets near the water unsupervised or when the pool cover (soft) is on. If they jump on top of the cover they can easily drown.

* Ask a Clappison staff member about ordering a lifejacket for your pet. *

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