Dog swimming

Tips for Taking Your Dog Swimming

Summer Fun for Your Senior Doggie

Part 2 of 2 in the series

Just like senior humans, living an active lifestyle with your senior pup is paramount. Go for a swim. Swimming is good for all dogs, but especially for older ones. The benefits for older people and older dogs are pretty much the same. It’s easy on their aging joints and ligaments. It’s excellent overall conditioning for both humans and pups. Many dogs love and take to the water like a duck, finding it comforting, and you needn’t worry about them. But, as a senior, you should always keep your eye on them.  Just like humans, they can encounter an unpredictable event. That can happen even to the experienced old swimmer.

I know, because it happened to one of our dogs who could not make it out of our pool, and he’d been swimming in it for years. We just couldn’t get to him in time. So just because your old boy is a great swimmer, always be attuned for the unexpected. Always! You never want to have to go through what we went through. It was one of the worst days of our lives.

It’s always good to train them when they’re young, if possible. But even old dogs can learn new tricks. So, if having a pool or living on a lake or the ocean and you’re going to be taking them there, then I advise you to sign them up for swimming lessons. Here are some other tips to consider:

  • Before you venture off for a new experience for your old guy, please be certain he’s safe and comfortable. He’s more likely to be receptive and comfortable with things that elicit positive experiences and all too eager to avoid adverse outcomes. The old “sink or swim” method is not a guaranty that it will trigger your dog’s survival instincts. More than likely, it will result in a frantic doggy paddle and a fear of the water, forever. And you’ll undoubtedly NEVER get him near it again.
  • Try this instead. Gently guide your dog toward the water. Think about using a life jacket for dogs, giving your pup the added sense of security. Maybe even during their bath time, you might consider giving your dog some treats, thus, associating something they love with being in the water.
  • If near the ocean or lakeshore with your doggie, always face the water. I’ll repeat this: ALWAYS FACE THE WATER! Why, you ask? Waves can pop up out of nowhere and without warning, and they could potentially carry your dog far out into deeper water – a rule of thumb: Keep pets away from turbulent waves. Even calm waters can produce deadly sneaky waves. Just be vigilant.
  • Be thoughtful and careful before throwing their ball or stick into the water. Playing fetch is an excellent way to coax him into the water, but don’t throw it too far. Their ability to choose safety over desire to fetch their toy may be compromised by their desire to play; hence, putting their lives in danger as they venture out into water that is too deep.
  • Always be cognizant of the amount of water he is swallowing. Just like when you take in a mouthful of pool, lake, or ocean water, and swallow it, you soon discover it’s an uncomfortable experience. The same holds true for your doggie. Keep your swimming sessions short. Doing so will keep your pups from throwing up due to water toxicity.
  • Be sure to swim in familiar places that you know are safe. Fishing sites are not the best because of bait and hooks hiding beneath the water’s surface. Swimming here could cause your dog to become ill or injured from these hidden hazards. Also, avoid places with a large amount of marine wildlife, as well.

Swimming is a great summer activity for both you and your dog. You’ll experience such joy as you watch him paddling confidently about in the water. In the fall, when summer yields to the cool nights of autumn, and winter hovers on the horizon, and the two of you are curled up on the couch, his head resting in your lap as the fire roars before you, you can reflect on those magical days of summer as you played and swam the days away. These are memories you will cherish forever. You and your faithful old companion. It doesn’t get much better than that

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