Just Keep Swimming, Right?

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In a previous post we discussed that dogs need regular exercise in order to maintain a healthy lifestyle. In the summer months, swimming may seem like a great exercise option. It’s fun and effective and just generally all around good. However, with that being said, it’s important to qualify that statement by stating that not all dogs are naturally disposed to swimming— a mistake many people make. 

A very common misconception about dogs is that all dogs are natural born swimmers. This is a big generalization that may actually be harmful for your pet. 

Not all dogs are cut out for swimming and, beyond that, like people, not all dogs like swimming. So, if you innocently assume that your dog would enjoy a dip in a pool and take her in, without any prior indication or proof, you may unintentionally cause your dog slight stress. 

For an idea of how your dog might feel just think about a time when you were forced to do something that you really had no interest in. It’s not the worst feeling in the world but it certainly is not the best either.

Instead of making a false assumption that your dog will like swimming, wait for her to show you that she does. For example, if you have a pool at your house or a local swimming facility that welcomes pets, slowly introduce your dog. Expose her to the general environment first to see how she interacts with the pool. If Stella stays far away from the pool and actively tries to avoid it, then she probably doesn’t want to go in it. Conversely, if Stella is walking around the pool and sniffing it, or showing any curiosity, maybe sit with her on the steps of the shallow end. Based on her reaction to this take the appropriate step forward or backward. She may like it and jump in herself, but be prepared to help her out at all times. 

For Further Consideration: 

Not all dogs are physically built for optimal swimming. Some breeds of dogs have shorter legs or natural breathing issues that may impair their ability to effectively swim. Pugs combine both of these traits; so, if you happen to have a pug (or a similar breed) invest in a life-vest for extra flotation support. 

Not everyone has pools available to them.  If you don’t have a pool at your disposal but go swimming in lakes, rivers, or natural bodies of water, make sure that you are familiar with that body of water before introducing your dog to it. In addition to that be cognizant of the current. If the current is strong for you to handle, then you won’t be able to successfully manage your dog. Again, consider a life preserver (for you and your pet).

Keep in mind that swimming is unexpectedly more fatiguing than other forms of cardio and exercising. It’s easy to underestimate because it is so fun, but just because you can walk with your dog for an hour straight does not mean you’ll be able to swim with her for the same amount of time. Try to be aware of signs of tiredness like excessive panting, slower movements, and swallowing water. 

Lastly, as long as you and your pooch are having safe fun, enjoy! #bullyfambam @bullyfambam