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Keeping Cool (and Active) This Summer

In the middle of summer it’s sometimes hard to keep dogs active in the heat. But if you’re lucky enough to have a pool in the backyard, know someone who does, or be close to a lake or other body of water, there are plenty of water activities that will not only cool dogs off, but have them burn off some energy too.

A simple game of fetch, standing at the shallow end of the pool and tossing the toy to the other end, will get a dog excited to leap in and bring the toy back. Another game is keep away, which requires two people and a toy or ball. The two people will either stand or float a distance from each other, making sure to keep the dog in the middle who will be trying to catch the toy. Make sure to let the dog win from time to time so they don’t get bored. Hula hoops are fun for everyone, which can include dogs. Start by teaching them to walk through a hula hoop on land by using treats. Continue to raise the hula hoop inch by inch until they can jump through it by using more praise and treats. Once the dog understands that the hula hoop is a source of fun, pet parents can start using it in the water for the dogs to swim through. Or you can add another word to their training, using, “Catch me,” as a way to teach them how to chase you through the water.

Have pool rafts? They’re a great way to include a dog in family pool activities if the dog wants to join, but isn’t good at swimming. Take time to get the dog used to the raft on land first that they will be lounging or floating on before just tossing them into the water. Pet parents can do this be putting a treat on the raft and praising the dog when they get on until the dog understands that the raft is ok to get on. Once this is accomplished, you can move to the water and again praise the dog once they get on the raft. Pet parents can also purchase kiddie pools for dogs who aren’t good swimmers. That way, they still get to enjoy the water and can do all the same activities in a more comfortable space for them.     

Then there are games for accomplished dog swimmers. Some dogs love to dive for toys that sink to the bottom of a pool. To teach them this, start by putting their favorite toy in shallow water so that it is easier to retrieve. Each time they dive, reward them with praise and treats. Once the dog learns to retrieve from shallow water, the water depth can be increased. For dogs who love water and parents who have docks, dock diving is another game. The goal, even though the dog doesn’t know it, is to have the dog jump as far as they can off the dock. The game can be recreated in a pool as long as the pool is deep and long enough.

It’s always important to keep in mind safety tips. Dogs, especially dogs who haven’t been around water a lot, need to be introduced to it slowly. Go at their own pace and praise them for when they get closer and closer to the water. As a precaution, a safety vest can also be utilized, remember some dogs are natural swimmers whereas some breeds like bulldogs and pugs just aren’t. If in a pool, they also need to be taught how and where to exit it. The most important thing is that if a dog doesn’t like water, don’t force them in. If they love water, that’s great but all dogs still need to be supervised. If they aren’t, they can get injured or worse. Dogs will also need to be bathed at the end of their water games, due to them possibly ingesting harmful pool chemicals when they groom themselves.

With so many games and other options where water can be found, dogs will no doubt be endlessly entertained this summer.