Summers in the desert, or in any extremely hot location, can be challenging to exercise your dog properly. We need to get up to walk early and stay up to walk late at night. I suggest doing it in the morning, since it’s the coolest part of the day and sets a good tone for the day.
In the dog world, there are hundreds of breeds—some breeds were built for swimming, like Labs, goldens, and Newfies. The double coat and webbed feet help them to be great swimmers. Then you have breeds like my bulldog, who have difficulty swimming due to their short legs, buoyant bodies, and short muzzle. Water safety is just as important for our dogs as it is for our kids.
Here are five steps that will keep your dog safe in the water.
1 If your pool is in a yard shared with kids and dogs, it should be fenced, or an alarm system should alert you when something splashes in the pool.
2 Teach your dog to stay out of the pool when not invited. You’re teaching the dog boundaries, like boundaries with furniture and jumping. If you’re having difficulties teaching your dog, then contact a Certified Professional Trainer.
3 Teaching your dog how to get out of the pool if it should happen to fall in is very important. I have seen even skilled swimmers fall in and panic and can’t find their way out. All pools have steps, some bigger than others. This is a good spot to start using positive reward systems like treats, toys, and good old-fashioned love and affection to motivate the dog to come to the step for a reward. Try to keep the dog from jumping out of the pool immediately. Wait for the dog to show a calm demeanor, let it out of the pool, and then bring the dog back in again and repeat these steps until the dog is happy to go in and out easily. Using a leash will help you with this behavior.
4 If you have a breed like my bulldog, buy your dog a life vest for pool time. And if you go boating with your dogs, be sure each dog wears a life vest, even if they’re good swimmers. This tool can be life-saving in case of an accident.
5 Put in a scamp ramp. This is a ramp that floats in the pool and can help your dog get out of the pool if it falls in accidentally. The ramp is a bright white color that would draw the dog’s eyes to it, even if the dog is in a panicked state.
Always ensure that someone is outside with your dogs at all times, just as you would with children. And have a wonderful, safe summer!
EDITOR’S NOTE: Cats need protection, too. Life jackets like this Baltic Maja Cat Buoyancy Aid are made specifically for cats.