Not all dogs are naturally good swimmers. Especially if Lassie has underlying health problems, such as heart disease or obesity. Never leave your dog unsupervised near water. Consider getting your dog a life jacket. If Lassie falls off of the boat (perhaps getting injured in the process), or is tired or cold from choppy water or swimming all day, a life jacket could be what saves his life. Get your dog a life vest in a bright color. Not only will it help her stay afloat, it will help her be seen by swimmers and boaters. Let her get used to wearing it at home first so you know she’ll be comfortable and won’t fight it.
At the beach be aware of currents and riptides. If a dog gets in trouble in one of these in the ocean, whether swimming or caught in a wave while fetching a ball, she can be swept out to sea in minutes. The same goes for rivers: You need to watch out for currents, even if they’re not readily visible, as your dog can be easily carried downstream.
At the lake be aware of the possibility of alligators, snakes and underwater holes. If your dog steps in a hole she may panic and you will need to help her swim to where she can touch the ground again. Avoid lakes and ponds with stagnant water. There are microorganisms that live in stagnant fresh water that your pet should be kept away from.
At the pool, have an exit strategy. Teach your dog how to get out of the pool by using the stairs with her several times in a row. Whether she’s swimming or accidentally falls in and needs to climb out, she’ll know where the stairs are. Consider putting in a pool ramp in the deep end to reduce any risk of drowning.
If your dog doesn’t enjoy the water don’t try to force the issue. if she sees everyone else having fun she may decide to join in, if not, that’s okay too. Not every dog likes to swim, or even get their feet wet. If you are really determined to coax Lassie into the water, try getting her used to it with an inch or two of water in a kiddie pool. Throw in lots of fun toys to splash and play with and work up from there.
Have a great summer!