It’s a common misconception that dogs are natural swimmers. In fact, some breeds can’t swim at all! Even for breeds that are known as water dogs, it’s always a good idea to give your puppy some basic swimming lessons. To help them learn and to keep them a little safer, choosing the right puppy life jacket is an important part of it, too.
Here are some tips & tricks to help your puppy get used to the water.
1. Never leave your dog unattended
You never know how your dog is going to react to going into the water for the first time. That’s why it’s important to always stay with her, even in shallow water, to make sure she feels safe. Think about it: If she feels safe, she’s more likely to have the confidence she needs to learn what she needs to learn. The last thing you want is for your dog to get scared. She may not ever want to get back into the water again if she associates it with fear.
2. Start small and quiet
Always start in the shallow end like you would with a child. It’s not a good idea to just throw your dog into deeper water and see what happens. Don’t assume that nature will take over! Start in calm water on the edge of a lake, river, or pool. Stay with your dog and keep her on a leash just in case she gets overwhelmed. You should keep the leash on until your dog can not only fend for herself in the water but can also return to you when you call her.
Don’t start somewhere where there are a lot of other people or a lot of noise. Your pup needs to stay calm and focused and too much activity will be too exciting and distracting for a puppy that’s just starting to learn.
Start by slowly walking next to your dog and encouraging him to get her feet wet and wade out into the water as she feels comfortable.
3. Don’t give up if she’s reluctant
Bring some of her favorite toys or treats to try to entice her further into the water. Praise her and use an excited, happy tone of voice just as you would when training her to do anything else. Lead her deeper into the water as she feels comfortable. As she gets to a depth where she has to start to paddle, put your arms under her belly to support her. This will help her stay afloat if she’s still not sure what to do plus it will give her more comfort. It will also encourage her to start to paddle.
4. Getting out of the water is just as important as getting in
Spend some time making sure your dog knows how to get back to shore, too. Lead her slowly back to shore until she gets his footing and can get herself out. This will vary a lot depending on the breed. For example, a puppy that’s a little larger like a lab or a German shepherd is going to have a much easier time getting her feet back on the ground than a dachshund or a bulldog.
Make an after-swim ritual, too. You should rinse your dog with fresh water to get off any chemicals from a pool, salt from the ocean, or algae from a lake. Give her a lot of praise and attention, maybe even a treat. The happier she is with the whole experience, the more likely she will be to try it again!
5. Use a puppy life jacket
It’s a good idea to get a puppy life jacket for any breed, even those that are from breeds that are known to be avid swimmers. That said, if your dog is small, lightweight, or is a breed with short legs, you definitely need to have a puppy life jacket. Another thing to consider is where your dog will be swimming. If you’re planning to take your dog out on a boat into deep lakes or in the ocean, you should get a life vest even if she seems like a strong swimmer.
This jacket is a good choice for so many reasons. First of all, it’s available in a wide range of sizes, from XS to XL. As your puppy grows, you can get a larger size that fits them and you’ll already know how to use it! It’s also available in 7 bright colors—Army Green, Blue, Pink, Yellow, Exceeding Bright Green, Exceeding Bright Orange, Exceeding Bright Yellow. The material is also reflective to add even more visibility. This becomes more and more important as your pup gets more independent and begins to wander out into the water on her own.
It’s important to mention that you shouldn’t just assume what size your puppy is—you actually have to measure her. Vivaglory gives specific information on how to do the right measurements so you’re sure to pick the right size. These life jackets were designed for dogs of all shapes and sizes, but you need to know your dog’s measurements before you can choose the right one.
These puppy life vests have extra padding for increased buoyancy and the heavy-duty Velcro fasteners will make sure it stays in place and secure. Adjustable nylon straps make sure you can adjust the fit as your puppy grows. There are a lot of other great features, too, like a top grab handle if you need to pull her out of the water and a D-ring so you can attach a leash for those early swimming lessons.
Set Up Your Puppy for Success
Most people assume that all dogs can swim, but that’s not the case. Even if you have a dog that’s known for being a strong swimmer, you should still start off slow with your puppy. It’s the best way to set her up for success and the only way to make sure she’s always going to be safe.