Guess who has their tail wagging at the sight of water and a happy face while paddling and splashing around in it? Your dog does! (Well, in most cases.) Most dogs love a good swim and it comes naturally to them. Given the chance, some will probably do it all day. Swimming has been an age-old activity and it is amongst the survival traits of the canine. It is suited across all age groups and has endless benefits. Here are seven reasons why swimming is probably the best activity for any dog.
Swimming as a Form of Exercise. It is said, “A tired dog is a happy dog” and no activity tires out a dog like swimming does. It ensures the mobility of joints and stimulation of more muscle groups as opposed to running. In puppies and young adults, it helps strengthen the cardiovascular system and is very efficient in curbing excess energy. If it is an activity performed occasionally, chances are, your dog will be more tired than usual.
Swimming for Joint Problems. Joint issues can concern dogs of any age group and not just puppies and seniors. Swimming engages the entire body but, without the weight. This makes it an impact-free action. Since there is no impact, the joints remain unharmed. For puppies, whose joints are still in their development stage, swimming is an activity which has near-zero chances of slipping or falling unlike in running. As for senior dogs, they tend to lose muscle mass around joints and some senior dogs also suffer from arthritis. Owing to such conditions, it becomes difficult for them to carry their weight and swimming is an activity which takes it off.
Swimming for Fun and Play. If your dog is a water-pup, you can make the activity even more pleasurable by adding a playful twist to it. Hide treats in an encased water toy, or play pool fetch. If your dog is toy driven, attach a toy to the end of a fishing rod and have him chase after it. Better yet, you could also have your dog chase you in the pool if both of you are good swimmers. It serves the purpose of exercise with the added fun of plunging in and out of the water.
Swimming to Aid Recovery. From the orthopaedic point of view, swimming works just like hydrotherapy works in humans. The muscles are quickly warmed up and this relieves muscle pain. It also boosts metabolism and blood circulation. Additionally, it has fewer chances of injuries compared to other exercise forms.
Swimming to Help with Obesity. Obesity is usually viewed as a vicious circle. The vet recommends exercise to control weight, the dog gets easily tired, does less exercise in the subsequent days and ends up eating more thus going back to square one. In such a case, swimming is an activity where it is easier for the human to give the extra push the dog needs from an exercise point of view. Depending on the health and needs of the dog, swims are done as several rounds of short bursts so the dog doesn’t feel very tired during the exercise but effectively burns more calories. With a controlled diet, swimming helps tone the body well.
Swimming for Behavioural Correction. Since swimming largely cuts down on the energy reserve of the dog, he is less likely to engage in disruptive activities. When it comes to over-enthusiastic dogs, a good swim is likely to make them calmer. Our motive, as humans, behind the activity, is for the dog to eat and sleep post-swim.
Swimming to Beat the Heat. Lastly, water activities are a great way to beat the summer heat. Dogs don’t sweat as humans do. A dip helps maintain comfortable body temperature during the hot weather conditions. But it must be followed by thorough drying to avoid infections.
If swims are conducted in open water bodies like ponds, lakes or even at the beach, it is strongly recommended to use safety equipment such as life jackets for dogs along with long leads. The currents are unpredictable, and it is always good for your dog to be able to reach out to you if need be.
Although most dogs are inborn swimmers, some breeds aren’t. The Basset Hound can’t swim whereas Pugs, Boxers, Dachshunds along with Bull Dogs are not naturally good swimmers. However, with the right equipment, support and training, they can go about the activity.
At times, a handler may have to accompany the dog into to pool to support the dog from under the belly or even to simply give the canine a push. This happens in cases where the dog fears enclosed water bodies, or in cases of severe joint pain or extreme obesity.
As summers approach, swimming gains eminence in the choice of exercises. All in all, It’s a fun, multifunctional and healthy exercise. Hope the above tips, trick and insights help you use your canine’s aquatic flair to its maximum.