How to keep your dog from drowning -

How to keep your dog from drowning

Every year, hundreds of dogs are killed in their own or neighbor's backyards. How? They fall into a swimming pool, struggle to get out, and drown. Our pet pro is here with an important training technique that could help your dog save his own life.

Dog paddling: It's the first stroke kids are taught when learning how to swim. But a lot of dogs need to be taught to swim, too. People think it's instinctual, but not all dogs are natural-born swimmers. And for a dog that can't swim, a pool can turn deadly in an instant.

"Bean" is a one-year-old Great Dane. Bean doesn't know how to swim. And that's a problem, because he just moved to a house with a pool in the backyard.

It's important to expose your dog to water for his own safety. If he falls into a swimming pool and doesn't know how to swim, he's going to panic. And if nobody's there to rescue him, he'll more than likely drown.

What you want to do is train your dog to save himself. Teach him how to get out of the pool if he falls in. To do that, you'll need the help of a friend, a collar, and two long leashes -- about 20 feet in length.

It helps if your dog knows how to heel. If he doesn't, place him in the heel position at the edge of the pool. Give him the command "in the water" and have your friend on the other side pull your dog into the pool. Once your dog is in the water, he will instinctively start to paddle. But as an inexperienced swimmer, he may rely only on his front legs and do little with his rear legs.  He's just treading water and it's exhausting. Eventually, he'll get too tired, give up and drown.

The key is to teach your dog to use his rear legs. This might not look like the nicest approach. But remember, this is all about teaching your dog how to save his life if he falls in the water.

What you need to do is teach your dog where the "exit spot" is. It's in the shallow end, or a pool's steps. Temporarily place a big potted plant near the steps so your dog begins to associate the plant as the exit marker. He'll quickly learn that's where he needs to swim to get out of the water.

Of course, there are several dog breeds that absolutely love being in the water and take to it like ducks. Golden retrievers have incredible aquatic abilities. If you've got a dog that enjoys being in the pool and it's okay with you, that's great. Swimming is a terrific low-impact exercise that will work all your dog's muscles without hurting his joints. Plus, it's a lot of fun. What better way to beat the heat than taking a nice, refreshing dip together? Throw a toy around, challenge each other to a race or just hang out together. It's all cool in the pool!

If your dog can't swim, take the time to teach him how. Not only could it save his life, it could open up a whole new world of outdoor fun for both of you.

Copyright 2011 America Now.  All rights reserved.



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