Just like people, some pets enjoy lakes or pools while others prefer to keep their paws dry, on land.

If your pet does enjoy running around in or near the water, there are 3 tips you should be following to make sure your pet stays safe this summer.

Tip #1 – Know which breeds can swim

Not every breed is fit for the water. Dog breeds can be grouped into three categories: natural swimmers, can be taught to swim, and non-swimmers; cat breeds can be grouped into natural swimmers and can be taught.

Natural swimmers for dogs include

  • Barbets,
  • Lagotto Romagnolos,
  • Newfoundlands,
  • Otterhounds,
  • Poodles,
  • Retrievers,
  • Spaniels, and
  • Water Dogs (such as Spanish and Portuguese).

On the other side of the spectrum, dogs that cannot swim include

  • Basset Hounds,
  • Boxers,
  • Bulldogs (including French bulldogs),
  • Dachshunds,
  • Maltese, and
  • Pugs.

For cats, natural swimmers include

  • American Shorthair,
  • Bengals,
  • Bobtails (American and Japanese),
  • Maine Coon,
  • Norwegian Forest,
  • Turkish Angora, and
  • Vans (including Turkish Vans).

Tip #2 – Teach them how to swim

A majority of dog and cat breeds are neither natural swimmer or non-swimmers, and instead can be taught how to swim.

If you love the water, you may want to invest some time so your pet is comfortable and can swim. The teaching process can be broken into 7 steps:

  • Take your pet to a quiet area: When you first start swimming lessons, you want to be in a quiet part of the lake or practice when the pool is free of distractions.
  • Stay shallow: At the beginning, you will want to stay in shallow parts of the lake or pool. This will allow you to walk next to your pet and prevent them from trying to push you under if they get nervous.
  • Keep your pet secure: While practicing, you should make sure your pet is going to be safe. Put a life vest on to make sure they stay afloat and use a leash to keep them from swimming too far away from you.
  • Use support: You want your pet to swim with all four legs, not just the front two. Keep one arm underneath them while they get the hang of using all four legs.
  • Bring rewards: If your pet is hesitant to swim farther, try enticing them to swim out with a toy or treat.
  • Go deeper: As your pet becomes more comfortable, you can start to work in less shallow waters. Just remember to keep your head above water, in case of emergency.
  • Teach exit strategies: Whether in a boat or a lake, your pet needs to know the best way to get out of the water. Take time to practice so your pet can remember their own way out for next time.

Remember to keep a positive attitude! Swimming is not an easy process to learn, whether you’re teaching a pet or a child. Your pet will notice if you are getting discouraged and that will lower their motivation. Use a happy voice and words of encouragement.

Tip #3 – Never leave them alone

Many of the stories you hear about that involve drowning or near-drownings occur when a pet is left alone at a pool or a lake.

If you have a pool, make sure to put the pool cover back on immediately after use. To be safe, you can put your pet back inside before you cover the pool.

At a lake, never leave a pet alone on a boat, on a dock, or at the waterfront. They could wander in or fall off and it could be too late to save them if you aren’t in the immediate vicinity.

We want you and your furry friend to have the best summer yet, and we hope these tips will help you enjoy some time at your local pool or lake!