Following on from our blog on dog obesity, if you’re looking to improve your dog’s fitness or help her lose a bit of weight, introducing her to dog swimming is a great option.
Why is dog swimming so good?
The viscosity of the water also means the dog has to work hard to move forward. This burns energy while building muscle strength and cardio fitness. It’s a great all-round exercise. Swimming is also a gentle way for overweight or less mobile dogs to increase activity levels. As well as burning calories to aid weight loss, swimming helps increase fitness, strength, muscle definition and flexibility. Because it is difficult to move quickly, the water provides protection for joints unused to moving.
Can all dogs swim?
Many dogs can swim instinctively and don’t need to be taught how to enjoy water safely. Breeds with shorter legs and longer backs often find it harder to swim, so a flotation device can be useful. Dogs learning to swim will often do doggy paddle with their front legs only, and their back legs are likely to drop down as they try to find the floor. A buoyancy aid will keep your dog horizontal, which allows her to use both front and back legs equally. It will also be there to keep your dog afloat if she suddenly tires.
How to teach your dog to swim
It is best to introduce your dog to water as a puppy, but whatever age you start the key is to go slowly and use praise and reward to build confidence. Never force your dog into water, but begin by letting them paddle in a stream, lakeside, beach or even in a paddling pool at home. Use a toy or treats to encourage them a little deeper each time. Support their tummy if you’re not using a flotation device to help keep them horizontal. Unique Pets’ Pool for Paws is a great way to introduce your dog to swimming.
Things to remember
Swimming is exhausting – 5 minutes in the pool is the equivalent to a 5 mile walk! Make sure that your dog swims in short bursts and takes lots of breaks. A flotation device will give you peace of mind if your pup suddenly tires while out of depth.
If your dog is swimming in a lake or stagnant water, watch out for algae which can make your dog sick. If your dog is swimming in the sea, be aware of tides and any dangers under the water. You should also be aware of weirs, rapids or locks depending on where you are swimming. Wherever you have been in the water, it is a good idea to rinse him off when you get home.
Pool for Paws
For more information on fun swims, check out our Pool for Paws page here and fill in the contact form to book your dog in for swimming lessons.