Most dogs love water, that is, if it’s outdoors and muddy or smelly!
It’s amazing how many dogs love to run and jump in any rivers or streams on a walk, then react with horror when a bath is suggested at home. Many develop tactics for avoiding baths, such as never setting foot in the bathroom, or quietly vanishing whenever the ‘B’ word is mentioned.
Teaching a dog to enjoy playing in the water is easier the younger they are. An older dog has had more time for any fear to become ingrained, and may have issues such as arthritis, which are agitated by moisture. Older dogs with unknown pasts may also have had bad experiences, and sometimes avoid all water.
Puppies love to play in water, and using hoses, taps and paddling pools to introduce a young puppy to water safely can allow their natural curiosity to blossom. Never turn a powerful hose onto a dog or pull them into deep water, as they may panic or perceive water as threatening.
Playing alongside another dog that loves water can really help some dogs to realise that there is nothing to be afraid of. Even older dogs who normally avoid water may join in if they see a friend enjoying a good splash.
If taking your dog to a beach or river, it is ok to allow them to swim and play freely in the water, however, watch out for strong currents and cold temperatures. Many people have had accidents or died trying to rescue beloved pets from water! Ensuring that your dog is as fit and healthy as possible before outdoor swimming is essential, so always use a healthy dog food.
Accessories such as dog life jackets can be helpful, especially for smaller dogs in large areas, as they can be easily seen and the added buoyancy helps them in strong currents. Jackets also help to protect against cold water, however the underside or stomach and legs are often left exposed.
Any outdoor play can result in fleas, ticks and worms so ensure regular dog worming treatments are carried out.