Summer is a time of jubilance and expectation. Dog owners and their canine companions fill parks, and pools open, both public and private. Dogs may be drawn to the water, especially if they see their human friends splashing about, but what happens if your dog finds himself in trouble in your above-ground pool? How can you get him to safety, and how can you avoid a possible disaster?
A dog in trouble in the water can be a dangerous situation. A flailing dog will eventually tire, and larger breeds -- such as bully breeds, which are more muscular and less buoyant -- will tire quickly. The use of a flotation device, on a long lead, may help you pull your dog to the edge of your pool. Do not use the dog's front legs to pull him from the water, as this can cause injury. If your dog is unable to pull himself from the pool, and you enter the pool to assist him, use caution. A panicked dog can drown a would-be rescuer. Handle the dog gently, use a calm voice and place your hands beneath his bottom to lift him.
Proper training is as imperative to keeping your dog safe in the water as it is when he is on land. Introduce him to swimming by taking him into shallow water, while leashed, with you by his side. Gradually lead him into deeper water until he needs to use his legs to paddle. Dogs won't always use their rear legs to paddle, but gentle support beneath his chest may encourage him to do so. Once the lesson is complete, lead him out of the water, as this will teach him to exit safely. Using praise and treats will encourage your dog to see swimming as a fun and happy experience.
Safety implements are beneficial to keeping your dog out of harm's way, in and around the pool. Fencing will keep your dog away from the pool when it's not in use. During swim play, it's helpful to mark the exit of the pool clearly so your dog knows how to get in and out safely. Dog ramps, made specifically for pool and water use, can assist your dog in entering and exiting the water. A properly fitted safety vest will help to keep your dog buoyant, especially in open water.
Never throw your dog into the pool. This isn't the way to introduce him to swimming. Use a calm voice while teaching your dog to swim. Yelling or using a loud voice to execute commands will frighten him, and swimming should be an enjoyable experience for both you and your dog. Dogs can and do drown, so never leave your dog unattended in or around the water.
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