Swimming may seem natural for dogs, and most of them love it, but even natural-born swimmers need to be trained. Summer is coming, and you and your dog can make the most of the heat with a few water safety tips. The American Kennel Club offers the following advice for properly teaching your dog to swim and keeping him safe around the water:

Build confidence

Not all breeds are natural swimmers, and even those that are may be afraid the first time they enter the water. Be sure to take it slowly in shallow water and praise your dog every step of the way. You can also begin training with a life vest and stop using it once your dog is a confident swimmer.

Start with the dog paddle

If your dog begins to dog-paddle with his front legs only, lift his hind legs to help him float. Your dog then should quickly catch on and keep its back end up.

Provide constant supervision

Never leave your dog unsupervised while in the water. Your dog may need your help and be unable to bark to grab your attention.

Don’t overdo it

Swimming is great exercise for your dog, but don’t let him overdo it. As with any workout, swim time should be increased in small increments. He will be using new muscles and may tire quickly.


As with any workout, swim time should be increased in small increments.

Watch the exit

Exiting a pool can cause your dog to panic. Dogs are not used to using the human stairs or ladders and will need to be taught how to use them.

Don’t forget the rinse

Spray your pup down quickly with the hose after he gets out of the pool to rinse off the chemicals from the pool water. (This also applies to lakes and rivers, where bacteria in the water can make your pet sick.)

Take care of the ears

Dab your dog’s ears with a dry towel or use a blow dryer on a low, cool setting to get rid of excess moisture. Most infections in dogs with floppy ears are caused by too much water and dampness.

For more tips on dog ownership, visit the AKC at www.akc.org.

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