If you own a Labrador Retriever, Irish Water Spaniel, or a Portuguese Water Dog, doing some type of water activities is one of the best ways for you and your dog to spend time together. Whether he is playing along the rolling waves of the ocean or fetching a stick in a shallow creek, spending time in the water with your canine buddy is a great way to enjoy the great outdoors.
Make Safety # 1
When you and your dog are both paddling in the water, it is very important to think about safety as your number 1 rule. While many dogs can easily plunge into the water like a duck, some canines are a little apprehensive at first and need time to get used to the experience.
Below are 5 tips to ensure that both you and your dog can have a fun and safe time in the water.
1. Before your dog hits the water, make sure that he is healthy and in good condition. Consult with your veterinarian if you have any doubt abouts his health or fitness level.
2. When taking your dog to the water for the first time, do it slowly and go by his pace. This is especially true if he is still a puppy. Never assume that, just because he’s a Labrador Retriever, that he will naturally know how to swim and will automatically tread the water safely.
3. Pick a warm, shallow body of water, one that will be easy for your first-timer to maneuver through. Take him to the edge of the water and let him explore at his own comfort levels. Do not splash him or drag him to the water before you are absolutely sure that he’s ready. Give him a few minutes to get used to this new experience. Forcing your dog to go into the water before he is ready will just scare him off and lessen the chance of him trying again.
4. As he gets more curious, try taking him to the water by going in first and call him at the same time. Lure him with a treat or throw a toy into the water (making sure it is at a short distance and within his depth). Eventually, he will feel more confident about going further out, especially when he knows that you are having fun.
5. Before taking your dog to a large body of water, such as the ocean or a deep river, it would be wise to gear him up with a canine life jacket. This is particularly important if he is still new to swimming and/or if he gets too excited while playing in the water. Make sure that the life jacket fits him properly and let him get used to having it on while swimming before going deeper into the water.