Water safety tips for your dog this summer

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While many may struggle through our frigid winters, there's no arguing that summers in Minnesota are amazing, especially for outdoor activities. Whether you're at the pool or out on the lake, being outside in the water is a great way to beat the heat -- for you and your dog! 

Here are a few tips to keep in mind to make sure your dog stays safe while playing in the water. 

1. Invest in a dog-specific life jacket

For boating, paddle-boarding, or other activities where your dog may fall into the water and have a long swim back to shore, dog life jackets are a great way to keep your pup safe.

Life jackets help keep your dog afloat, and many also come with loops on the back for you to pull your pet out of the water. Look for a life jacket that secures at the chest and underneath the belly, and make sure it’s a snug fit. A life jacket that’s too loose may come off your dog during an emergency.

dog in pool

2. Desensitize your dog to water

Before your dog is ready for the big pool or lake, start with a kiddie pool in your yard. Not only is it fun to splash around in with your pup, but it's less intimidating to learn to swim in than a big body of water. 

Use lots of smelly, high value treats to lure your dog into the pool and reward them every time they step in. If your dog loves toys or to play fetch, you can also incorporate the pool into your games as another form of reward.

Don't be afraid to get into the kiddie pool with your dog and make the experience as fun as possible! 

Remember: every experience is a learning experience for a puppy.

It’s never a good or safe idea to throw your puppy into the water. A puppy that doesn’t know how to swim can drown, so it’s important to start slow and build their confidence with water.

3. Be mindful of your dog's swimming skills and age

Swimming, like many activities, is a skill that can weaken as your dog gets older. Even if your pup could once rival an Olympic athlete, they may need additional support, such as the help of a life jacket, to stay afloat as they age.

For dogs with arthritisswimming can be a great form of low-impact exercise, and a life jacket can help mitigate some of the stress to your dog’s joints while they swim.

Always monitor your dog while they swim, and make adjustments to where and how long they swim based on their ability -- this is important no matter what age your pup is. You never know how a dog may respond in a new situation or to a change in their environment, like a new boat going past. If your dog is near the water, make sure you keep an eye on them no matter what. 

Bonus tip: Make sure your pet's identification tags and microchip are all up-to-date before bringing them anywhere they'll be off leash. A collar with ID tags can make all the difference if your pet goes missing. 

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