Many dogs love water: the ones that don’t enjoy a good splash are few and far between! So let’s see why swimming is good for their health and how we can help our trusted friends have even more fun with games to play in the water.
LOTS OF BENEFITS AND A FEW WARNINGS
Just as for humans, swimming has many benefits for dogs: it would be a shame if our faithful companion were frightened of water. Swimming is excellent exercise because it uses all the muscles in the body without straining the joints. For this reason it is an ideal activity for dogs of all ages, and is especially recommended for growing large-sized puppies and as rehabilitation therapy for animals who have suffered trauma injuries or have problems with their joints. And let’s not forget overweight pooches: taking Rover to swim is an excellent way for him to get back in shape while having fun.
But it must be said that this does not apply to all dogs: it depends on their individual physique. Some are perfectly at home in water while others struggle. The first category includes, for example, Retrievers such as Labradors and Golden Retrievers, the Portuguese Water Dog, Lagotto Romagnolos and Newfoundlands. All these breeds not only have a body type which is particular suited to swimming, but also have more developed membranes between their toes, which helps them move in water. On the other hand dogs with short legs and broad and heavy chests find it harder: breeds such as Bulldogs, Basset Hounds… or Pugs.
AS NATURAL AS … SWIMMING!
In any case, generally speaking, jumping into water and swimming is a natural and spontaneous behaviour for dogs. But sometimes our four-legged friends do not like water, possibly because they had a bad experience as puppies. Introducing puppies to water must be done when they are 3 months old: during their first months it is very important to ensure they have as many experiences as possible so that they grow into balanced and fearless adults.
The experience of water, as all others, must obviously be a pleasant and positive one or the dog could be traumatised and carry this fear forward even as an adult. To make the first encounter with water as successful as possible, the most effective approach is play: no forcing and lots of fun, and you will see that there will be absolutely no problems.
ACCESSORIES AND WATER TOYS FOR DOGS
Water toys for dogs are specifically designed for play and fun in the water with our four-legged friends. These toys are made with a material that floats, they can withstand being bitten without puncturing (and sinking) and they are very visible. All this means that they can be thrown into the water with no problem and our dog will have immense fun swimming to fetch them. And if your dog is particularly dynamic, playing Frisbee is another fun game which is perfectly suited to water as the Frisbee floats and cannot be punctured and sunk like a ball can.
When you decide to take your dog into water, choose all the other accessories carefully, especially the collar and lead as they may get damaged, especially in salt water: any metal parts could oxidise and rust. It is also important to rinse in fresh water any nylon part which has got wet in salt water. If you prefer to avoid nylon, in the Ergoflex range by Ferplast you will find collars, harnesses and leads made of special rubber which makes them waterproof, washable and able to withstand high temperatures as well as being pretty and colourful. But do remember to be careful of any metal parts!
And now all we have left to do is wish lots of fun to all owners and their four-legged swimming friends.