Make sure your dog doesn’t get into trouble in the water this summer. Karen Bush advises...
Going for a swim is a terrific low-impact exercise; it gives your dog a whole body workout, and for water-loving canines it is quite simply the best fun. But safety is essential if what should be a pleasurable outing isn’t going to end in tears…
Places to swim
The seaside is probably everyone’s favourite swimming destination but unless you’re familiar with local regulations, check before setting out that dogs are welcome. Make sure you know the tide times too.
Lakes are often calm, with safe, shallow places where your dog can take a dip; shallow and slow-moving rivers and streams can be lovely places to visit as well. But dogs can have a significant adverse impact on rivers, streams, and ponds; repeated disturbance as they run in and out can cause erosion, damage plant life, and affect light for plants and animals living below the surface. With this in mind, in some areas local authorities have created special ‘dog dip’ sites to minimise damage, so stick to these places where indicated.
Where NOT to swim
- CANALS the water quality may be poor and conceal hazards, plus your dog may be unable to climb out, and be in danger of being hit by passing boats.
- RESERVOIRS can look tempting, but may have hidden hazards and their depth can mean the water is very cold, even on hot days.
- FAST FLOWING AND FLOODED RIVERS can quickly sweep your dog away, cause difficulties for him in reaching shore again, and he may be hit by fast-moving debris caught in the current. Also keep away from features such as weirs.
- ROUGH SEAS crashing waves and strong currents won’t just damage your dog’s confidence, but may physically put him in danger.
- HEED SIGNS WARNING YOU NOT TO SWIM; they apply as much to dogs as they do to humans.
- THE SAFEST PLACE OF ALL TO TAKE YOUR DOG SWIMMING IS A CANINE HYDRO POOL, as it will be easy for him to enter and exit, and has clean, warm water all year round.
You may also be able to hire a buoyancy jacket while you’re there, and can get expert advice on fitting it if you’re considering buying your dog his own. Many pools off er fun swim sessions as well as therapeutic ones, and very often you can join your dog in the pool!
Choose swimming places with ease of exit in mind; the sides of riverbanks can be steep and slippery and your dog may struggle to get out without assistance. A wet dog weighs more and is harder to get hold of than a dry one, plus he’s lower down than you, which all adds to the difficulty of extracting him.
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