Preventing Pet Drownings: How to Train Your Dog to Be Safe Around Water

We know the Los Angeles heat can get pretty intense for us and our dogs. And when it gets to be too much, we love to spend our days lounging by the pool or splashing around at the beach. And what fun would a day in the sun be without our favorite furry friend?

But before you pack your pooch and head for Santa Monica, Venice – or even just the backdoor – it’s essential to make sure your dog knows how to be safe around water. Please keep reading to learn our go-to safety and training tips for your canine’s water safety.

Safety First!

Did you know that around 5,000 dogs die every year due to pool drownings? And that’s not including drownings from other water spots like beaches, lakes, and ponds.

Likewise, it’s important to remember that not all dog breeds can swim, but that doesn’t mean all dogs can’t get in the water! A life jacket is essential when first getting your dog acclimated to the water, but it’s especially important for dogs that are not natural swimmers. A life jacket ensures your pup can cool down and stay safe.

Additionally, if you have a pool, and your dog has free range of the backyard, an excellent addition to your pool set-up might be a pool fence. This way, your dog can roam freely while you rest easy, knowing they’re safe from any accidental drowning. It’s also a good idea to learn canine CPR. You want to know what to do while waiting for emergency services in an emergency.

Start Slow

“Throw them in the deep end! They’ll learn!” While this may be advice your grandpa swears by, it isn’t the best way to train your dog to be safe around – and hopefully enjoy – water.

Like all big goals, you want to start small and work your way up. And like all dog training, you want to provide lots of praise and positive reinforcement like treats or pets! This means that, despite what grandpa might say, you don’t want to get a life jacket and throw your pup into the deep end. Instead, it would help if you coaxed them into the shallow end with loads of encouragement and treats. Please do not force them into the water; you want your dog to be as comfortable as possible.

If you don’t have a pool at home, try taking your dog to a community pool and start them off in the kiddie pool. Let them get their feet wet, then encourage them to start walking and splashing around.

If gentle coaxing isn’t enough to get your dog to step into the water, try using a leash to lead them into the water or entice them with some of their favorite toys or treats. Don’t expect your dog to start swimming straight away. Plan for a couple of trips to the shallow end before your dog is ready to start paddling around.

Pool Training

Once your pup seems comfortable with the kiddie pool, you can progress to a larger body of water, such as a pool (if your dog seems particularly enthusiastic, you might be able to test out the beach, but the rolling waves can be another source of fear, so be wary of taking them out here too soon).

Around this step, it’s a good idea to ensure your dog can get in and out of the pool safely. Show them how to use the steps in the shallow end – or if you don’t have pool steps, think about investing in a pet ramp that you can place in the pool for them to use. It’s crucial that your dog knows how to exit the pool so they’re not relying on you to remove them when they get tired.

Swimming for Beginners

Once your dog is comfortable in deeper water, you can encourage them to swim around. You want to watch and make sure your dog is swimming with all four legs as this is the most efficient way for them to swim. When they first start to swim, stay beside them to offer comfort. You can even put your hand on your dog’s stomach to support their weight as they get used to moving through the water.

Swimming for the Pros

When you feel like your dog is comfortable in the water, you can introduce toys and games to make their water time more engaging! We recommend small or slim toys like discs, especially for the beach-going dog, as this will let them keep their mouths mostly closed and prevent them from swallowing water.

As you train your dog to be in the water, remember to use lots and lots of praise and positive reinforcement. And most importantly, pay attention to how your dog is feeling! If they seem stressed, bring them back to shallower water, or exit it completely. Letting them know they’re safe with you in the water with them will go a long way toward increasing their comfort around water.

By following these safety and training tips, your dog can be your new aquatic companion in no time! We work with clients all around the Los Angeles area! If you want more detailed or tailored training advice – water-related or just behavior training in general – contact us and schedule a consultation! We currently have space available for puppy day school, private dog training, and boarding & training.

Happy Swimming! Where is your favorite place to take your dog swimming around Los Angeles? Tell us in the comments!




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