Puppy Swimming Lessons

Tips for dog owners who want to take their dogs swimming

Not all dogs naturally know how to swim, and it is up to you to teach them for safety’s sake. Expecting them to be able to handle themselves in an aquatic situation can be dangerous, especially if you have a pool or visit lakes or rivers during camping trips with your canine companion.

So, how exactly do you teach your dog to swim? While they quickly learn how to stay afloat, it is crucial that you target a few specific points and techniques to ensure their safety and make the experience fun for them. After all, fun is the best teaching tool of all.

For most owners, getting them adjusted to the water is a good start. You don’t want them to panic when they enter a water environment (river, lake, pool, or even canoeing) because they can easily get confused. So, how old should a puppy be before they begin any kind of swimming lessons? Generally, it’s good to start early, around seven months, to get them accustomed to a water environment. It’s good for safety purposes, just in case they fall into a swimming pool or get excited and jump in (dogs are renowned for their desire to save their friends and will often jump in to try to save you if you’re in the pool).

Teaching your dog to doggy-paddle

You may want to start with a doggy pool. They’re inexpensive and are great for cooling them off during the hot summer months. In a shallow environment, they’ll be able to move around in the water without being afraid.

Once accustomed to getting wet, it’s time for swimming lessons. Don’t just put them in the pool. There are some handy tools, such as pool ramps, that give your dog a boost out of the water. This is mainly because dogs cannot climb out of a pool like we can. Just keep in mind that swimming can be disorienting for them, and knowing their exit point is important. Dogs can panic, so be careful that they don’t pull you down or scratch you.

Place them in the pool at their exit point and allow them to get a feel for the water environment. Then you should guide them around the pool and have them follow you. At the end of the lesson, guide them back to the exit and let them get out on their own.

Precautions when swimming

Protecting yourself is just as important. Wear a shirt and shorts that will cover your torso and legs. Dogs can easily scratch you with their nails, especially when they’re paddling or even panicking. It is likely that first time swimmers will want to grab on to you for safety, so this can save you from unnecessary nicks and scratches.

This brings up the importance of hygiene. Something to consider before introducing your dog into a pool is your dog’s nails. Many people know how much it hurts when they stub their toe or hand when swimming or just getting out of the pool. Dogs are just as susceptible, and can easily crack or shatter a nail, which could easily become infected. This is where additional tools like the doggy ramp can help out.

You must also be cautious about a pool environment, since chlorine can be hard on their eyes or dangerous to ingest. Sometimes it’s not good for them even to just inhale it. Consider the use of a salt-purified pool. Salt actually makes the water denser and things in it more buoyant (so your dog will find it easier to float) and is softer on their skin and eyes. Keep in mind that their fur can be hard on your pool filters, so don’t be surprised if you have to clean your filters more often.

Swimming lessons for your dog

There are of course a range of doggy swimming training facilities available to help train your dog. Because this is all about safety, there are a few questions to ask before you enlist in any classes. How will they train your dog? Do they teach through positive reinforcement or through discipline? How you train your dog will affect their outlook and attitude towards water. What safety precautions do they take? Is their pool a safe environment and dog-friendly? Consider that it is also important that trainers be aware of the risks of an aquatic environment and are able to take measures to ensure your dog’s complete safety (such as resuscitation). Then consider what type of environment they will be in. Remember that chlorine pools can quickly irritate their eyes.

As your dog’s owner and protector, it is up to you to ensure their safety at all times. Though we do not always think about how dangerous a pool can be to our dog, it is important to understand that without proper training, your companion could injure themselves or even someone else if they don’t know how to swim safely.

Keeping up with your pet supplies can be just another thing you don’t want to have to remember.  After a long day at work and going to the store, the last thing you want to do is have to go “to the store” again.  Consider home delivery of your pet supplies!

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Creating a First Aid Kit for Your Dog

Create the perfect dog care kit

In most situations, we can always take our dog to the veterinarian when something unexpected happens. But, what happens when it’s up to you to ensure your dog’s health? We don’t go to the doctor when we get a little scratch, so why would you take your dog to the vet? There are even times when a veterinarian isn’t available, so it’s up to you to be prepared.

There are plenty of emergency medical kits available on the market, and while these make for good starting points, you can create your own companion-specific medical kit for your dog as long as you know what you’re going to need when a situation comes up.

Know your stuff

Start by getting a book that covers how to deliver first aid to a dog. Some are available through ready-made med kits and are often specific on how to use the medical kit contents properly as well as deliver artificial respiration to a canine. Keep in mind that injuries aren’t the only thing to prepare for, so it’s crucial that you understand how to deal with heat-stroke and shock. It’s also important that you know what signs to look for especially since your dog can’t really tell you what they’re feeling.

Medical supplies

There is a wide range of medical supplies that you might need. The question is always what is needed and what type of situations will a dog be presented with. Take into consideration the environment and your dog’s already present conditions. Do they have any medical conditions, such as seizures or diabetes? Certain situations call for specific medical attention, so it’s up to you to develop the right emergency medical kit for your dog. Even pregnancy is a medical condition, so be sure you’re ready for anything.

A basic kit:

A large roll of gauze is good for wrapping a wound or even a muzzle. Remember that a wounded animal can become hostile and bite out of fear and pain. Even though they love you, they may feel threatened when hurt badly enough.

As far as flesh wounds go, powdered antiseptics are the best solution to minor cuts. Don’t use alcohol on your dog because it’s bad for their skin and they’ll be inclined to lick their wound, which is bad because alcohol is extremely poisonous for dogs. Powdered antiseptics are your best choices and are easily applied, but hydrogen peroxide can be used as well.

To prevent infection, you’ll also want to invest in dog-approved antibiotic ointment. While triple antibiotics can be used in emergencies, it’s recommended that you locate ointment that is designed specifically for canines.

In addition to surface injuries, you’ll also want to have some cold packs available. These can help reduce swelling and are great for any hot situations. Any medical kit should also include some cotton swabs, latex gloves, scissors, and tweezers.

Specific needs

Certain medical conditions will require proper preparations as well. For situations in which diabetes and shock might pose a problem, honey or bee pollen make for convenient and very effective tools. They will help regulate sugar levels that can become a serious issue in shock situations that result from a range of causes.

Another addition to your medical kit is antihistamine capsules for allergic reactions. Be sure you consult with your vet on what brands can be used and what type and dosage are safe for your dog.

Extreme conditions

There are also the more extreme conditions, such as camping, hiking, and long-term outdoor experiences. Be sure that you consider your situation and what preparations will be appropriate in case of emergency.

Dogs are a very curious breed, and poison is always a constant threat.  Charcoal and a laxative such as mineral oil can help reduce the threat of danger, but you should always seek medical attention as soon as possible.

Socks or protective paw covers should be given to keep their paws safe in case of debris or broken glass. Just remember that if you wouldn’t walk on it with your bare feet, it probably isn’t going to be safe for your dog’s paws either.

Consider anti-venom for outdoor situations. Snake bites can be deadly to people and dogs. Understand the territory and wildlife you’ll be visiting and consult with your veterinarian to ensure that you have what you need to keep your dog safe.

With your medical kit contents organized, you’ll need to find a place to put them. A small waterproof satchel is ideal, but an old lunchbox can make for a great container as well.

As your dog’s owner and protector, it’s up to you to always ensure their well-being and safety. It’s crucial that both you and your dog are ready for anything, because it’s always better to be prepared for the worst than have to deal with the consequences of not knowing what to do when it matters most.

Keeping up with your pet supplies can be just another thing you don’t want to have to remember.  After a long day at work and going to the store, the last thing you want to do is have to go “to the store” again.  Consider home delivery of your pet supplies!

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Seat Belts for Dogs?

Every time you get into your car, the first thing you do is buckle up. It’s not only the law; it’s also for your safety. And while seatbelts are specially designed to help keep us comfortable and safe, they don’t seem to readily configure to your dog’s body. And so, dogs don’t usually buckle up. Instead, they might just sit in the back seat, or hang out the window and let the wind blow in their faces, and in some cases, they might even sit on your lap.

The problem with this is that a loose dog can move around in the vehicle and do whatever they want. They might see something exciting and rush to the window, possibly blocking your view. They might get down on the floorboards or interfere with your steering, and they can even become a projectile if you get hit, turn, or stop too fast. A loose dog isn’t safe for either of you.

Distractions

Having a dog distract you while you’re driving is perhaps one of the most dangerous scenarios and can even cause accidents. While your dog is loose in the vehicle, it can be irresistible to take a second to pet them, give them a treat, or divert your eyes just to check on what they’re doing at the moment (hopefully not chewing on the seat). Though you may not notice it, turning your attention away, especially your eyes often makes your brain tell your body, and thus your will, to move in that direction, resulting in merging into another lane or onto the road’s shoulder.

Not a place for a lap dog

For many dog lovers, having your dog enjoy the comfort and closeness of sitting on your lap seems like the caring thing to do. But sitting on your lap is one of the biggest concerns for road safety. Smaller dogs may seem cute and comfortable relaxing there, but it can become physically distracting, and even dangerous if you’re in an accident. Though smaller dogs don’t seem like they’d interfere with steering or even the operation of the vehicle, there’s no way to be absolutely sure that they won’t do something radically different, like jumping on the steering wheel or climbing down towards the throttle or brake pedal.

In an accident, a dog on your lap could be seriously injured and hurt you as well. Many new vehicles utilize airbags, which are sensitive to impact. Even if you’re in a small accident, the airbag could deploy and seriously injure both of you.

A moving dog

Perhaps the most dangerous aspect of an unbuckled dog is that they can become a danger to others in an accident. Just like a person, a dog would continue to move at the same speed of the vehicle in an accident scenario. In a sudden stop from as little as 35 mph, anything unsecured could be thrown from a vehicle, causing injury to anyone in the path. Because there’s no telling when or where an accident might happen, it’s best to never take a chance with you or anyone else’s safety.

Harnesses come in little variety, but have their innovative ideas that make buckling up easier and more comfortable for your dog.

• Kurgo’s Trufit Smart Harness: This harness has padded straps for added comfort and latches into the vehicle’s standard seatbelt system.
• Kurgo’s other product, the Auto Zipline, can be turned into a seatbelt by attaching the zipline to any two stationary points in the vehicle.
• American Tourister also has their own safety harness, using padded mesh to keep your dog comfortable and safe.
• Top Paw’s harness features an auxiliary tether, for added safety and stability.
• Pet Buckle is another maker that appeals with a fully padded cross harness.

Some manufactures use harnesses that aren’t padded, and might do their job, but won’t be as comfortable for your dog, which means they may not like being in it. But the great thing about a seatbelt harness is that they can double as a leash harness, so when you get to the park, you can just unbuckle and start having fun.

So the next time you get ready to go down to the park or over to a friend’s house for a doggy date, make sure that everyone buckles up. With a comfortable harness that fits properly, your pup can buckle up just like the rest of the family and stay just as safe. And remember, the best way to stay safe is to prevent any accidents from happening by buckling your pup up!

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