How To Keep Your Dog Safe In Any Kind Of Water This Summer

Written by: Rachel Crocetti

April 11, 2016

Summer is just around the corner, and that means lots of fun in the water with your pup. While you may think that dogs are natural swimmers with great common sense, this is not always the case.

ralph swim use

Nonetheless, if your talented dog turns out to be a total fish, here are some important safety lessons to keep in mind:

On a Boat:

1. Get your pup a life jacket.

Screen Shot 2016-04-11 at 10.50.43 AM

Even if your pup seems to be a strong swimmer, accidents happen. If they go overboard, a life jacket will keep your dog afloat in case of emergency. Plus they usually have a handle on the back so you can easily pull your pup out if he’s in danger.

2. Be aware of motion sickness.

Dogs can get motion sickness just like humans! If your pup has a tendency to get sick on car rides, they may not like the motion of a boat either. Avoid messes (and an uncomfortable pup) if you’re not sure how hey’ll handle the movement.

3. Test your dog on the boat first.


While the boat is docked, bring your pup aboard to see what they think. If they seem hyperactive and nervous, it may not be a good fit. Some dogs are total water wizards, while others are not so sure. Also be sure to assess their reaction when the motor is turned on. If the noise scares them, a dog could jump overboard (but luckily they’ll have that life jacket on, right?).

4. Have an emergency plan.


Even though it’s rarely fun, planning is key. Have a conversation with the “captain” or driver of the boat about who is going to cut the motor if your pup goes overboard.

On the Beach:

5. Know if you’re at risk for riptides.

Screen Shot 2016-04-11 at 11.05.16 AM

If you are lucky enough to find a dog-friendly beach, chat with someone local or a lifeguard about whether or not there are riptides.

6. Beware of rough water.

Screen shot 2016-04-05 at 8.56.10 PM

No matter how good a swimmer you or your dog are, don’t take them out if the waves look like something even Johnny Tsunami couldn’t surf.

7. Watch for what your pup is putting in their mouth.

Screen shot 2016-04-05 at 8.56.54 PM

There are all kinds of crazy things on beaches (not just the people that visit them). Stinky dead fish, trash, and even the salt water are all things that can make your dog sick. As long as you pay attention to your pup and bring along fresh drinking water, you guys should be good!

Near the Pool:

8. Fences are the BEST.

Screen shot 2016-04-05 at 8.58.28 PM

First and foremost, if you have the option, build a fence around your pool. That way, you don’t have to watch your pup’s every moment in the yard. If the pool isn’t separated from the rest of the yard, it’s recommended to watch your pup to ensure they don’t accidentally fall in.

9. Make sure your dog knows his exit.

Screen shot 2016-04-05 at 8.59.56 PM
If your dog decides to jump in (or in the worst case scenario, falls in), make sure they know where the steps are to exit the pool.

10. Don’t let your dog drink the water.

Screen shot 2016-04-05 at 9.00.56 PM
Even if they give you a look like this. Whether you have a saltwater pool or chlorinated, don’t let your pooch take a sip. Teach them to drink from a nearby bowl of fresh water to avoid getting sick.

In a River or Lake:

11. Keep an eye on your pup’s dock activities.

Screen shot 2016-04-05 at 9.02.21 PM
While it seems obvious not to walk off the end of a dock to a human (or, at least, most humans), a dog might not realize when the dock ends and the water begins. If your canine isn’t a strong swimmer, always leave their lifejacket on when they’re on the dock or anywhere around the water.

12. Watch out for currents.

Screen shot 2016-04-05 at 9.05.11 PM
Rivers and creeks can have unexpected currents that could frighten a dog (or a human, let’s be real). Always check the current yourself first before inviting your pooch to join.

13. Nasty algae = no swimming.

Screen shot 2016-04-05 at 9.06.49 PM
Some sea algae can make your pup sick. To avoid an accidental sip of gross water, avoid taking your dog into the lake or creek if there is a good amount of green-blue algae.

And lastly, when introducing your dog to the water, chose a shallow spot, keep them on leash at first, and make sure you’re by their side and ready to catch them just in case. Oh, and have fun!

black lab shark

Featured image via UberHumor

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Written by: Rachel Crocetti

April 11, 2016

Nutritionist-crafted food for your dog's breed or mix.

Recipes designed for dogs' individuality



A themed collection of BARK-designed toys, treats, and chews.


A themed collection of BARK-designed toys, treats, and chews.