Fun water activities with your dog

Fun water activities with your dog 

By Dr. Brent Bilhartz
With Frisco temperatures climbing into the 90s, now is a great time for a dip with your dog. Whether it’s in the pool, lake, a fountain, or the ocean, water activities are a wonderful way to chill out and cool down with your pup.
Before you make plans to play in the water, check local rules to make sure dogs are allowed. Also ask yourself whether your dog is comfortable with the water and a strong swimmer. If you’re not sure how well your pet handles water, purchase a water safety harness for ease of movement by the dog and ease of retrieval should he or she get into trouble.  Always start introductions to the water slowly if your pet is a novice.   A gradual introduction that begins with getting a little wet, eventually leading to a guided swim, and which includes lots of encouragement and praise is the best and most reliable method to foster a love of the water in your pooch. To see a list of water supplies that includes everything from doggie goggles to life vests, check out this collection of outfitter gear

Once accustomed to the water, dogs who enjoying playing ‘fetch’ will love the added challenge of water retrievals. Dock diving is a growing competitive sport, which not only tests your pup’s willingness to jump into the water and bring back what you throw, it also scores canine athletes on agility, speed, and jump length from the dock’s edge to where their nose touches the water. This is one of the most popular dog sports and is fun and easy for dogs to learn.  A gentle reminder: whatever you throw should float so your pet doesn’t get lost under the surface searching for the toy. 
Want something a little more extreme? Did you know dogs can surf? If your pup is a really strong swimmer (and you are too), catching waves may be loads of fun—professional instructors even teach dog surfing classes! Not up for surfing? Then paddle boarding, similar to surfing, may be a better option. This equipment lets you and your pup share a board and enjoy calmer waters; once your pup learns to balance on the board, you can both enjoy smooth sailing together. Canoeing and kayaking are even easier than paddle boarding, require no special training and are less taxing to pets who are older, tire easily or simply not coordinated enough to hang 18!
Want a little more relaxation in your water activity while still giving your pup a fun aquatic work out? Then let your dog take the lead with towing. Towing lets you train your pup to tow objects—or you lounging in an inner tube—through the water.  Some breeds like the Newfoundland have competitions in towing, A day of boating is another fun option.  Despite being surrounded by water, remember to offer your dog plenty of fresh water to drink whether you are in salt or fresh bodies of water. (Intestinal parasites can ruin a water excursion quickly.)  
Most importantly, never forget the pure joy of a good, old fashioned swim. Free styling with your dog is always a treat and gives you both great exercise. Please remember that swimming is an athletic activity and dogs, just like people, need frequent rests and plenty of water to drink to remain both hydrated and to stay cool. 
If you have any questions about training, conditioning or obedience to enhance your water fun, please visit us at LazyPaw Animal Hospitals! 
Founded in 2005 by husband and wife team Dr. Brent Bilhartz and Dr. Julaine Hunter, LazyPaw Animal Hospital in Frisco, Texas is a different kind of animal hospital. We are veterinarians without distraction, and ours is a culture of genuine care. 
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