Friday, April 22, 2011

The Dog Days of Summer

Summer's finally upon us! While you're busy dusting off the barbecue and breaking out the bathing suits, don't forget that summer is also the best time for your dog to learn to swim! Swimming is the easiest and most effective way for Fido to beat the heat, so he'll be a lot more willing to get into the water. Many people (including myself initially) mistakenly assume that all dogs are naturally predispositioned to swim and that once they get in the water, they'll do it and enjoy it. Unfortunately, that's not always the case, and simply tossing your dog into a pool or a lake will likely make him hate the water forever. It took Leo almost a month to discover that he really really loves to swim. We hope this post will help your dog discover his love for the water, too!

Can I get in yet?
For this post, we documented one of Leo's friends, Amadeus, in his quest to conquer the water. Deus (day-us) is a scrappy 3.5 month old Siberian Husky male who is always keeping Leo on his toes. :)


Hi, friend!

  • It's much easier to get Fido into the water when he sees other dogs swimming around. Dogs don't like to be left out of fun, either!
  • If your dog is nervous, wading into the water with him will make him feel less frightened. You're his security blanket, after all! But whether you elect to join him is entirely up to you. 
  • Some dogs take to the water REALLY quickly. Others take a lot longer. Your dog's breed combined with the level of his desire to cool off in the water will dictate how long it takes him to get comfortable with the idea of don't give up too soon! :)
The following steps most likely aren't all necessary for your pooch. Leo was pretty nervous at first, which is why it took him so long. The following summarizes the month it took to teach him to swim...but it only took Deus a day!!

1. It's easiest to start at a lake or a pond, where there is an incline into the water so that your dog can gradually wade in. Be sure your dog has had all his shots before getting into the water. Stairs leading down to water (like a pool), are much more intimidating, and you'll be less likely to achieve your goal: a happy filthy wet dog.

Zoolander's got nothin' on me!

2. Initially, your dog might shy away from the water, or gingerly stretch his head to take a drink while ensuring that his paws stay dry (the coward!). At this point, you should already be in the water facing him. Say his name, pet him...anything to make him feel like you being in the water is normal and that him being near the water with you is no cause for concern.

3. If he is still really anxious, don't force it. Tell him what a good boy he is, get out of the water, and continue on your way. You can come back another day!

4. Only when you see him start pacing back and forth along the edge of the water (maybe whining) should you consider getting your dog into the water. Keep in mind, there's a difference between fear and nervousness. If his ears are pulled back and his tail is tucked, do NOT force your dog into the water. If he is standing by the edge of the water, and he seems like he wants to get in, then that's your cue to help him out.

5. Gently take his front two paws and place them into the water. He'll immediately back away, but if he doesn't run away and comes back to the edge, try it again. If he does run away, chalk it up to a good effort, and come back some other time! :)

6. After he gets comfortable with standing in water, you can start encouraging him to venture into deeper areas. Do so by finding a stick that's lying around somewhere. As mean as it sounds, start taunting him with it until he really really wants it. Toss the stick a couple of feet from the edge of the water. If he goes to it, he'll likely bring it back so he can chew on it. Take the stick and throw it a little further than before. If he doesn't go after it, no problem! Just find another one and don't throw it as far.

7.  Keep throwing the stick out further and further until he it reaches a point in the lake where he cannot stand, and he has to start paddling. Once he comes back to shore, toss the stick again...and hopefully he'll know to swim after it! :)

Swim buddies

Getting wet is a really great way to keep your dog from overheating in the summer. Deus and Leo both have double coats, which makes them incredibly heat sensitive and far more prone to heat stroke. On hot days, always be sure your dog has access to water to drink (and swim in!) and shade to chill under.

Weird phenomenon: Almost always after dogs get wet, you'll notice that they will have a sudden burst of energy...and playtime is on!

Swimming Pools

A lot of people wonder whether swimming pools are safe for their dogs to splash around in. The answer is...YES! So long as the chlorine levels of the pool are regulated and you hose off your dog thoroughly after his swim, pools are GREAT alternatives to lakes. Chlorine can cause itchiness that can lead to hot spots (skin infections) only if you fail to rinse off your dog. As for ingesting the water, do not worry about chlorine poisoning. The amount of chemical in the pool will not make your dog ill. But don't just take my word for it! We've asked a couple of vets and other dog owners. Check with your vet, too!

Good luck! Doggie swimming is SO MUCH FUN! We hope you have a blast this summer with your pooch. :)


  1. soooo cutteee thanks for posting this!

  2. AWESOME :D :D :D deus and leo both look so darn handsomeeeeeee. i'm really glad you wrote a swimming post.

  3. A husky!!! yay =)

    and Leo looks like a lion in the last photo haha

  4. Cutest husky puppy ever.