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July 3, 2013

Let’s Go Swimming!

Hooray for summer! This wonderful season comes with lots of dog friendly activities to add to your list for play times with your pooch.  New England has lots of beaches on oceans and lakes and ponds and streams to cool off and go swimming with your dog.  Sounds simple, right?

Although swimming often seems to be a carefree activity, there are a few general water safety tips to help keep your dog healthy and happy this summer. While it’s a lot of fun to splash around with your pet,  it also brings potential danger  you should be aware of to help keep everyone safe.

Basic Rules

The most basic thing to always keep in mind when you’re around water with your dog is that supervision is required. A cardinal rule is that you should never allow a dog by a body of water without supervision.

Supervision is the number one way to prevent any sort of mishap that could happen when water is involved. You cannot assume that other people or a lifeguard will be watching your pet;  it is your responsibility to keep an eye on him. Just like children, vigilance is the number one way to keep your dog safe.

When you are by water and you’re tired, sick or have been drinking, do not allow your dog to play in the water. It is your responsibility to keep your pet safe, and this should be taken seriously.

Also, not all dogs naturally know how to act when they are presented with water. Some may take to it by nature, but, before you know if they will, you should spend some time to train them to help make a safe and fun experience. Never just toss your dog into water for their first time — it can lead to disaster.

Teach Your Dog

Instead of forced learning, take a more relaxed and positive approach to teach you dog about entering water. Start at the shore and get the dog used to being wet and how it feels.

Then, using simple commands, such as “swim” or “come,” slowly go out deeper with your dog. This way you are not only teaching the dog to swim in water on your command, but you’re also right there if anything should happen.

Environmental & Weather Related Dangers

Another thing to be aware of is that while the oceans, lakes, ponds and streams are a wonderful resource, they can also at times be dangerous to use.  Make sure you are aware if there are swimming advisories for the water you are using. If there are, do not let your dog swim.  If the water is not safe for you, it is not safe for your dog.

It is just a sad fact that in today’s world there are a number of waterborne health risks that you should be aware of. These are things such as toxic chemicals, large algae blooms or insecticides. Exposure to any of these things can cause adverse health effects for a long time in your dog, so make sure you are aware of any advisories that may be in effect.

Other water hazards to watch out for are things such as strong currents, high waves, aggressive animals and manmade hazards such as pipe lines and debris.

Over Your Heads or Way Out?

Finally, just like people, when a dog is in water where he cannot touch or reach shore easily, he should be fitted with a safety vest. This will help a dog who is a weak swimmer keep safe, prevent a dog who gets a cramp or tires from being unable to reach shore safely and make your dog easier to keep track of when he is in the water because of the vest’s bright color.

A dog safety vest my look somewhat goofy on your pet, but they are life saving devices that prevent tragedies. It is an investment that is a must if you’re going to be in water with your dog. Erring on the side of caution is never a mistake.

A Few Additional Hints

In addition to the above precautions, there are also a innumerable other factors to take into account. Things to consider include keeping your dog hydrated, deciding where they can go to the bathroom, assessing how busy the water spot you go to will be, how hot the weather will be and noting if other dogs will be in the water at the same time your dog will.

While it seems like a lot to keep in mind, being prepared usually leads to peace of mind.  Have fun!


How Am I you ask?  from Ernestine

Fine, fine, fine, better than fine. How about fine ally? At the beach! Lots to share, but who wants to be typing when I can be outside?!? Here are some highlights: Hilda is amazed! She gets to be with her family all day, and she loves to chase the waves.  And, Sunny (aka Sundance) is being super brave for all of his 4 lbs, and walking down the trail to the sand! Plus my Mom and Dad have calmed down a little– haven’t heard the words ‘Crate Escape’ for at least 45 minutes!

drakes ernie tennis balls-2

Think this is funny?!? hmmm…

Later,  Ernestine



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