Spring is in the air! If it doesn’t seem that way in Kansas City, rest assured that no matter what the weather looks like today, spring is without a doubt right around the corner! And summertime is hot on its tail!
The warm weather months bring fun in the sun and playtime around water, which is great for adults and children, but could be dangerous for your new puppy.
Read on to learn about water safety for your puppy dog and how to have a fun, worry-free spring and summer!
There are two kinds of dogs in this world. The kind that can swim and the kind that can’t. First and foremost, however, never assume that your dog knows how to swim, even if he belongs to one of the breeds that “can.”
Swimming Dog Breeds:
- Chesapeake Bay Retriever
- Portuguese Water Dog
- Standard Poodle
- English Setter
- Irish Water Spaniel
In addition to the specific breeds listed above, there are even more dog breeds that can swim within the Setter family, Spaniel family, Retriever family, and others. But again, just because your puppy belongs to one of these “swimming breeds” doesn’t automatically mean that he will know what to do and how to stay afloat if he accidentally falls into (or jumps into) a pool.
The following are breeds of dogs that simply will not be able to swim even if you tried to teach them. As a general rule, breeds with “flat” faces, and small “stocky” breeds are not natural swimmers. For example, your pug will never be able to swim and therefore you should regard all bodies of water as potential hazards to your pug!
Dog Breeds that Can’t Swim, Period:
- Basset Hounds
- Chow Chows
- Shih Tzus
If you happen to have a puppy, or adult dog for that matter, that belongs to one of these breeds that can’t swim, then you’ll have to be especially watchful if and when you bring your puppy to the beach or on a boat. By using firm training and only taking your puppy off leash once he’s trained and trustworthy, you both can have a fun, relaxing time at the beach. But until he’s trained, it would be best and safest for him if you kept him on a leash.
So, let’s get started. If your puppy belongs to a dog breed that can swim, here are 5 safety tips you can use to keep your fur baby safe.
1) DON’T ASSUME HE’LL BE ABLE TO SWIM, YOU MUST BE WITH HIM
We’ve already touched upon this important tip, but it bears repeating. Just because your puppy comes from a swimming breed does not mean that he will know what to do if he falls into a body of water.
Now, hey, you might discover that as soon as he sees a lake, he wades in, goes out a little farther, and floats like a natural and starts paddling. The point we’d like to make here is that this should occur under your supervision. Never turn your back on your puppy or let him out of your sight when you’re at the lake, beach, or pool.
Instead, take the time to introduce him to the water, and teach him how to swim. Don’t push him to do more than he’s ready to do. You don’t want him to develop fears around water. But if you’re gentle, protective, and nurturing, he’ll soon learn how to float and swim.
2) DON’T LET YOUR PUPPY DRINK LAKE WATER OR OCEAN WATER
This tip obviously doesn’t relate to the risk of drowning, but you need to know it nonetheless. If your puppy drinks lake water, or worse, salty ocean water, he’s going to either vomit, get diarrhea, or experience an uncomfortable version of both.
If your puppy or adult dog ingests ocean water, give him fresh water to drink immediately. At the same time, work on getting him to the vet, especially if he’s a puppy. Depending on how much ocean water he consumed, he could have “salt poisoning” which will have to be treated by a vet.
Lake water is a slightly different story if your puppy ingests it, and it won’t be as dangerous. However, lake water could have bacteria and parasites due to ducks, geese, and birds “relieving themselves” in the water. Ever heard of “duck itch”? If not, you should Google it. You’re in for a real treat! Snails also release delightful bacteria into lake water that you definitely don’t want your puppy consuming. If your puppy drinks lake water, the protocol is the same as if he drank ocean water. Give him fresh water to drink and work on getting him to a vet.
3) DON’T LET HIM GO OFF INTO THE OCEAN, HE WON’T BE STRONG ENOUGH FOR THE NATURAL OCEAN CURRENT
This next safety tip is relevant to adult-aged, full-grown dogs as much as it is relevant to puppies. Never let your dog go off into the ocean, even if the waves seem “calm.” The ocean is unpredictable. Even when the waves are small, there could be a strong undercurrent at play beneath the surface.
No matter how large and strong your dog is, the reality is that he simply won’t be strong enough for the natural ocean current. This means that if you take your dog to the ocean, he must be very well trained to understand not to go in the water. He must also have a flawless track record of obeying you immediately when you call him. If you have a willful dog who you foresee won’t listen to you when you call him back from the shoreline if he goes too close to the ocean, then you either shouldn’t bring him to the beach, or you should keep him on his leash while he’s there.
4) ALWAYS SUPERVISE YOUR DOG WHILE HE’S SWIMMING AND DON’T LET HIM GET TOO FAR AWAY
In the event that your puppy or adult dog has learned how to swim and you’re on a fun outing at the lake or pool, you will still need to supervise your dog while he’s in the water, and never let him get too far away from you.
Dogs are enthusiastic and swimming dogs can’t necessarily stay mindful of how far they have swam. Also, if water is splashing around their heads, it could make it more difficult for them to hear you calling if they get too far away.
For this reason, it’s always a good idea to stay in communication with your dog while he’s swimming, and to call him back when he starts going too far. If you’re on a boat and your dog is taking a little swim, you might need to be prepared to jump in and retrieve him if he doesn’t come back when you call him.
We also recommend that you be prepared to use both positive and negative reinforcements, depending on whether he behaves or disobeys you. If you call him back and he doesn’t listen, then an effective negative reinforcement to use is to not let him go into the water again and not give him any treats. Essentially, give him a time out where he has to stay seated or lying down for the remainder of the boat trip.
5) NEVER LET YOUR DOG SWIM IN A SWIFT RIVER
This next tip is very important. No matter how strong of a swimmer your dog is, never let him swim in a swift river. Similar to how the ocean is unpredictable, rivers can be just as surprising. In fact, the strength and speed of a river can be far greater than the undercurrent of an ocean, depending on the river!
For this reason, it’s better to be safe than sorry, and simply never let your dog swim in a swift river. Dogs should not accompany you on river rafting trips, either, or be involved in any river activities that are dangerous.
Instead, find a lazy river, or stick to ponds and lakes. Bring your dog in a canoe or sail boat if you’re on a lake. Keep the environment safe for your dog to ensure that you both have an excellent time and make positive memories.
And now, for dog breeds that are not swimmers, here are 3 things you can do to ensure your puppy’s safety.
1) STAY AWAY FROM OCEANS
This might seem like a severe tip, but we have to state it anyway. If you have a puppy or adult dog that is not a swimming breed, don’t bring him to the ocean. These types of dogs could drown in an inch of water. It’s very scary. This is due to the fact that if they inhale a wave’s splash of ocean water, it could go into their lungs.
Even if your puppy or adult dog has established a track record of staying in your lap, it’s still dangerous to bring him to the ocean. At the end of the day, dogs are dogs, which means they’re animals and can be impulsive. With a dangerous body of water nearby, such as the ocean, if your dog gets overly excited and can’t control himself, even though he has a long track record of obedience and loyalty, it could be the one mistake that ends it all. If you have a Pug, Corgi, or other non-swimming breed, it’s best to relax in the sun at another location than the ocean.
2) IF YOU HAVE A POOL, MAKE SURE IT’S FENCED IN AND THE GATE STAYS CLOSED WHEN YOU AREN’T THERE
This tip falls under the category of general pool safety, whether you have a puppy or not. Your pool should have a fence around it with a gate that can reliably stay closed. This will ensure that no domestic animals or children fall in and get hurt, including those from the neighbors.
If you have a gate already and you recently got a puppy, be sure to check that the slots of the fence itself aren’t so wide that your puppy could slip through even if the gate door is closed. It could take some time to check the perimeter of the fence, but it’ll be worth it. Also, puppies as well as adult dogs are “diggers” by nature. You’ll need to keep an eye out and make sure that your puppy doesn’t dig near the fence a little bit each day until he Shawshank Redemptions his way into the pool area.
3) USE A PLASTIC KIDDIE POOL IF YOU’D LIKE TO GIVE YOUR PUP A POOL TO COOL OFF IN THAT WON’T PUT HIM IN DANGER
A fun alternative to bringing your new puppy to the beach where dangers lurk is to get a kiddie pool. You can fill the kiddie pool with as much or as little water as you deem safe. And watch your puppy while he’s cooling off in the pool. You would be surprised at how much fun your puppy will have splashing around with some toys in just a few inches of water.
You can also set up a sprinkler in the yard that your puppy can jump through and play around on a hot summer’s day. In fact, there are many alternatives to going for a dip in a pool, lake, river, or ocean. Just because it’s hot out doesn’t mean you have to go to one of these dangerous locations. You can have just as much fun staying in the backyard. It just takes a little creativity and ingenuity!
That about wraps it up for all of our water safety tips to bear in mind as we head into the spring and summer this year! What are your warm weather plans for your puppy?