By Alora Busek
Nautical Newfie/Doggy Paddle Swim Coach
There are so many mind and body benefits to taking your dog for a swim. Swimming is a low impact, year-round exercise that is great for working every muscle in the body, without risking injury to joints. It may surprise you to know that for a dog, 5 minutes of swimming is equivalent to about 20 minutes of running. Swimming is an incredible mental health outlet in your 4-legged friend too, not only will your pup have the chance to socialize and play, but swimming is a great way for a pup to reduce anxiety. The benefits are endless!
When introducing a dog to the pool it is important not to force them in if they are too hesitant. If your dog doesn’t jump right in but shows some interest, I suggest starting with a life jacket that has handles so you can walk your dog in step-by-step. Here at Wag Central, when I give a Swim Quest I give a keyword or command every time the dog walks onto a step. For example, I say “step” or “ready” then I reward with tons of praise.
Another technique I use when introducing your pup to the pool is with lots of encouragement from you, the pet parents, on the other side of the pool. Using praise and words of support, your presence alone can be instrumental in making pool time a positive experience for your dog. Often during the first introduction I will secure your pooch to a floating swim tether to direct them around the pool. To discourage dogs from exiting or grabbing the edge of the pool, a simple off command when you pup clings to the side and then being redirected to a safer course (stairs or ramp) of getting out of the pool.
Knowing your dog is the first step in pool safety, making swimming a positive experience they can look forward to is the end goal. Whether it’s utilizing our pool or getting your dog comfortable to use your own at home, we can help make that happen for you and your favorite 4-legged friend.