Tips to help you and your dog safely enjoy the water.
Most dogs just LOVE to play in the water. In fact, most have an innate ability to “dog paddle” or at least tread water. And during the dog days of summer, when the heat and humidity are high, water play is a great way to help your pooch cool off. Even if you don’t have a pool or a dog-friendly lake or ocean nearby, you can still help her cool off using a garden hose or sprinkler.
But before we discuss ways to enjoy the water with your “bestie,” there are a couple of things we need to cover first.
Water Safety. It’s not just for humans.
Okay – this is really important. If you’re going to take your dog into the water, you need to do it safely. And the first thing to take into consideration is whether or not your dog is a good candidate for swimming and water games. Although most dogs love the water, not all of them do. Neither are all of them good at swimming. In fact, some breeds are known to be quite water shy, including:
- Shih Tzus
- Lhasa Apsos
- Chinese Cresteds
There are also certain breeds of dogs that really just can’t swim well. The most extreme example is the bulldog. Check online or with your veterinarian to be sure your dog is one that can safely swim. And never, ever try to force your dog into the water if she seems afraid.
Also watch for a condition called water intoxication. It’s rare, but it can happen to any dog after a long day of swimming or even playing with the hose if your dog “bites” at the water. It comes from swallowing too much water and can progress quickly, so watch your dog for lethargy, vomiting of water, coughing and “foamy” spit, dilated pupils or difficulty breathing. If she has any of these symptoms after playing in the water, call your vet or get her to an animal ER as soon as possible.
Now, with safety in mind, let’s hit the beach!
Only take your dog to a beach you know is dog-friendly. Start off with your dog on a leash. Look for a shallow area where the water and activity level are calm. You can play around with your dog to see if she is enjoying it. Let her go at her own pace to decide is this is an activity she would like to continue.
If she’s open to it, or if she has enjoyed water games in the past, here are some easy ways to safely enjoy the water with your best buddy.
- Play water games. Most land games can be easily adapted for water play. For instance, playing fetch with a stick, Frisbee, tennis ball or other toy is just as enjoyable—if not more so—when you take to the water.
- Go canoeing. Taking to the river in a canoe is a nice, peaceful way to enjoy the water with your furry friend. Canoeing is relaxing and allows opportunities for your dog to jump out occasionally and splash around. Be careful where you dock, though, and watch out for sharp rocks or strong currents.
- Dock jumping. If you know of a dog-friendly lake that has a dock, swim out to it with your pooch and let her jump off with abandon!
- Consider towing. If your dog is strong enough, teach her to tow you around in an inner tube. It’s equally fun for both of you!
- Go surfing. This is one only for dogs who have proven swimming abilities. If you have a board and like to surf, you may be able to teach your dog how to catch a wave alongside you.
That’s it! Have a safe and happy summer, especially when the “dog days” hit!
Send in your best photos of you and your best friend enjoying the water by tagging us on Facebook, twitter, and Instagram or using the hashtag #biljac! We’d love to share them on our website. Share your comments below about your favorite water games to play with your dog.