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6 Tips for Dog Swimming Safety

Updated: Oct 11, 2022



Here’s the good news: Your dog enjoys spending time in the water just as much as you do. The bad news? Your pup is irresistibly drawn to it, too. And while it can be tempting to take your dog with you when you head to the local lake or pond, it’s not such a smart idea. Swimming can be dangerous for dogs even if they appear perfectly happy and relaxed – let alone if they have no experience whatsoever. Even if you have the right dog-friendly gear, there are a number of other factors that make water unsafe for dogs, too. Check out The Pets Universal guide to learn more about swimming safely with your pup so they can join you without risking their lives.



1. Keep Your Dog Ready to Swim

Before you rush your dog into the water, you’ll want to make sure they are ready for the activity. If you’ve been letting your pup swim around at the park, they may be more than ready to go. However, some dogs may need a little bit of extra help in this area, too. A veterinary behaviorist can help you determine if your pup has any learning challenges that could make them more prone to accidents. If your dog is having trouble learning how to swim in the water, you may need to work with an obedience trainer to help your dog learn to trust you. You can also try making a few modifications to the water-related activities you do with your dog. For example, instead of taking your dog for a swim right after you come home from the lake, take them for a swim the following week. This way, your pup won’t have the experience of seeing water and them the following week.


2. Know the Signs of Swimming Anxiety in Dogs

Although swimming may look like an activity that a dog would love, it can actually be hugely anxiety-provoking – even for dogs who are jumping into the water enthusiastically. So how can you tell if your dog has swimming anxiety? First, you’ll want to look at how your dog responds to water. Does your dog avoid going near the water’s edge? If so, they may have some issues with swimming. If they do want to get near the water but seem tense or anxious, they may not be able to relax around water. Another sign that your dog has trouble with swimming is avoidance or shyness around other dogs in the water. They may avoid being in the same room as other dogs unless they are supervised.



3. Teach Your Dog to Trust This Activity

One of the most important steps in helping your dog learn to swim is to build trust with them. If your dog trusts you and is comfortable with the activity, they will be able to relax around the water. If your dog doesn’t trust you around water, you may have a difficult time building their confidence. The best way to get your dog to trust you is by spending time near the water with them. Let your dog investigate the water together and take steps to acknowledge and reward your pup’s curiosity. When your pup looks interested in water, get them in the pool or basin and reward them with treats. When they seem less interested, get them out and reward them with cuddles and play.


4. Be a Careful Instructor

Swimming is a very different activity from hiking or playing fetch in the yard. And while your dog will likely be very excited to get into the water, that excitement may cause them to become overwhelmed. Your best bet is to keep your dog calm and relaxed while in the water. Your dog may become overwhelmed if you try to force them to swim when they are nervous or anxious. If your dog shows signs of swimming anxiety, use the steps above to help them build trust in you around water. Try to keep your dog as calm as possible during this process. If they become panicked, they may struggle to stay afloat, making things even more dangerous.


5. Be a Prepared Instructor

Swimming can be a great activity for dogs with mobility issues. However, it’s important to remember that swimming is different than walking or hiking. Swimming can be fast-paced, and it is usually done in a pool. Therefore, swimming can be challenging for dogs with any kind of hip or joint issue. When choosing a swimming facility for your dog, be sure to check that the pool is suitable for their specific needs. Some pools may be too large for dogs who can’t walk easily or who have mobility issues. In these cases, you may want to look for a smaller pool that can accommodate your pup’s needs.



6. Don’t Forget Lifesaving Gear

Swimming can be a fun activity for dogs to enjoy. However, it is important to remember that it is a different kind of activity than hiking or running in the park. If a dog were to get into trouble while swimming, there is a chance that they could become trapped in a dangerous situation. To make sure that your dog is safe while swimming, make sure that they have the right lifesaving gear. Most dog parks will have lifesaving gear available for you to use. Make sure that your dog has a lifejacket, whistle, and leash so they can be rescued if they get into trouble while swimming.


Swimming is an awesome activity for dogs, but it can also be dangerous. Swimming is different from hiking or running in the park – it is much faster-paced, and it is usually done in a pool. And while your dog may be excited to get into the water, it is important to keep them calm and relaxed while in the water. If your dog doesn’t trust you around water, it can be difficult to build their confidence. To make sure your dog is safe while swimming, make sure that they have the right lifesaving gear. Keep in mind that swimming is a different kind of activity than hiking or running in the park and should be considered a dangerous activity for your dog. Your best bet is to keep your dog as calm as possible and use the steps above to build your dog’s trust around water. Swimming is an awesome activity for dogs, but it is important to remember that it is a dangerous activity and should be treated as such.

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