Monday, August 12, 2013

Does Your Dog Know How To Swim?

"Klondike Playing in Pool"
(C) Anna Grob

Most dogs love water. They like to play with the water hose, splash in a doggie pool, or catch rain drops in their mouths. But, do all dogs know how to swim? Believe it or not, the answer is no. 

Dogs have the instinct to paddle and kick their back legs, but not all dogs do it correctly. Some dogs will paddle with their front legs to high, making a big splash which causes them to get water in their nose, eyes, and ears. Paddling incorrectly will also cause the dog to tire faster. Some dogs paddle correctly with their front legs, but not with their back ones, causing their back end to sink.

Here are two examples. Klondike our big male Alaskan Malamute, was
"Kia Helps Klondike Relax
While Swimming"

(C) Anna Grob
fascinated with water. The first time we put him in our pool, he splashed very hard getting no where. Our dog Kia who is an excellent swimmer, coached him with her silent animal communication, making Klondike more relaxed and later, he paddled correctly which lessened the amount of splashing.
On the other hand, we thought Klondike was doing very well swimming from one side of the pool to the other; but he was cheating. He was using the floor of the pool to walk on while he paddled with his front legs. When Klondike was in deeper water,he paddled with his front legs, and didn't 
"Klondike Swimming with a Noodle"
(C) Anna Grob
move his back ones which caused him to sink. To correct this, we put a swimming noodle under his stomach. This made his body level, getting him used to not walking on the floor of the pool. We also placed our hands behind his back legs. When he felt our hands touch his legs, he started to kick with them. Klondike is now a excellent swimmer.
Dogs can learn how to swim by watching other dogs do it. An 8 week old Chesapeake Bay Retriever pup,Rugor, visited us one day. We took him to Lake Michigan with our dog Kiana for a swim. Rugor followed Kiana into the water. Kiana nuzzled him with her muzzle, positioning him to swim correctly, then later guided him out of the water for a break.
Dogs can learn from humans too. My husband Don wanted our dogs to jump off the platform into the pool. Neither dog knew what to do. Don dove into the pool 

"Don Teaches Kia to Go In on Her Own"
(C) Anna Grob
thinking that maybe the dogs would understand what he wanted them to do. Klondike soon dove in after him. Kia is an excellent swimmer, but is not as confident as Klondike is about going into the pool herself. We are still working on this with her.

Be sure to teach your dog where the latter/stairs are in the pool so they know where and how to get out if they accidentally fall in. Also, it is a good idea to let them rest often by bringing them close to the stairs or latter.

Many people like to take their dogs to the beach. If your dog goes for a swim, be sure to watch out for rip tides and high waves. Be prepared to go into the water with him. Some people like to use a light weight harness that floats, with a long nylon leash attached to it. The nylon leashes float which is great because it doesn't get in the way or tangle with the dogs legs while they are swimming. Having them on a leash makes it easier to bring the dog in if he tries to swim to far, or if a shark is spotted near by, which by the way, happened to a friend in Florida. If you go boating, always make sure your dog has a doggy life jacket on. Especially if you have a small dog, or one with tiny legs like the dashound.
Swimming is a lot of fun for both humans and their dogs. Be sure you teach your dog how to swim properly, and have a safe and enjoyable summer.

About the Author: Anna Grob has worked with animals for over 25 years as a vet assistant and professional all breed pet groomer. She studied the art of grooming for competitons and attended many workshops and seminars, while working side by side with well known groomers and judges. Anna participated in a study for many animal related projects such as animal behavior, skin and coat health and animal enrichment. Anna is a docent volunteer at Brookfield Zoo near Chicago. She has studied wolves, coyotes, and related canids. She is an Award winning artist, and an author and illustrator of Childrens Books. Anna's first book A Coyote Who Wished He Lived In A Zoo was released last year. Her second book A Wild Dog Without a Patch will be released 2013.

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