Doggie Swim No-Nos

Doggie Swim No-Nos

A few years ago, I took one of the DDL Product Testers (Chewy) to two doggie swim days, and we had a great time. But I saw a lot of room for improvement, so I thought I’d create a follow up to my previous post, 7 Tips for End-of-Summer Dog Swim Days.
Here are 7 things NOT to do at a Doggie Swim Day:

Don’t assume that all dogs know innately how to swim, especially when they are in distress.

I watched multiple people literally throw their dogs into the deep end of the pool and watch them struggle to get to the edge. I also saw a dog playing near the edge of the pool, and he slipped in.  Although he had been swimming fine earlier, he started to panic, and was flailing and not getting his head above water. Luckily the owner was nearby and watching and jumped right in. Even if your dog is an experienced swimmer, let him enter the pool in his own way – whether that’s jumping in or walking in at the shallow end.

Bonus Tip: Invest in a doggie life jacket (available at many pet supplies stores) if you want to play it extra safe. They are usually in bright colors so you can spot your dog easily, with handles so you can pull him out quickly if you need to.

Don’t force your dog to stay in the water if they don’t want to be there.

I saw several dogs that were clearly not happy about being in the water and were trying to get out, and the owners wouldn’t allow it. I saw a woman with scratches all over her neck and shoulders from her dog digging her nails into her; she was so scared about being in the water. I know many dog owners want their dogs to try new experiences to see how they will respond, but once it’s clear they are truly scared or averse to being in the water, get them out.

Don’t assume someone else is going to pick up after your dog.

Many doggie swim days have pooper scoopers to help keep things clean, but that’s in the event that a dog manages to do his business when his owner isn’t watching. If you see your dog poo, be sure to pick it up. The last thing you want is someone else stepping in it and then getting in the pool. Which leads me to my next tip:

Don’t forget to walk your dog before going to a doggie swim day.

Let’s just say…clearing out a pool of all humans and dogs to clean up a mess is no fun and takes a long time. Don’t be the party pooper. (Sorry, I couldn’t help it.)

Don’t let your dog bully other dogs.

For the most part, people were great about correcting their dogs’ behavior, and I was happy to see people apologizing when their dog did something rude. Most instances of humping or herding were stopped immediately. But unfortunately, some people let their dogs terrorize other dogs repeatedly, and that forces the dog-victim’s owners to address the situation with the dog-bully’s owners. It’s uncomfortable, it’s a downer, and it’s unnecessary if everyone makes sure their dogs play nicely.

Don’t put the responsibility for watching your dog on someone else, particularly a child.

This actually happened at a dog swim: a young boy (maybe 10 years old) was swimming in the pool with his little dog for at least two hours. The dog was tiny, maybe 3 pounds soaking wet. I watched the dog paddling and padding while the boy held him, and for a while, everything was fine. But eventually the boy made friends, and would let the dog paddle on his own for a while before holding him up again. Many bystanders were starting to get concerned, and one young man stopped and talked to the boy about making sure to keep the dog’s head up high and not letting him get too tired.  He even picked up the dog and let him out of the pool and for a few minutes, the boy and the dog stayed on dry land. But less than 5 minutes later, they were both back in the pool, and the dog was clearly exhausted. The adult who was supposed to be watching the little boy and the dog was taking photos and typing on her phone, and oblivious to the dog’s fatigue. A few minutes later, I saw the little dog on his own, paddling toward the side of the pool, and going under. The boy was nearby, but he was playing and not watching the dog. I couldn’t take it anymore – I jumped in the pool (fully clothed, unfortunately) and got the dog and took him over to the adult, and spoke with her about the dog’s condition. The family left the pool immediately. The point is, watch your kids and your dogs and make sure they are safe at all times.

Don’t overdo it.

At the end of the summer, there will be many dog swim days as well as other dog-friendly events and it will be tempting to try to attend them all. Just make sure to know your dog’s limits and take him or her home when they’ve had enough. You don’t want a fun event to turn into a tragedy. You know your dog best, so just make sure to call it a day when the time is right.

Above all – be safe and have fun!