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Topic: Doggie swimming safety

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Subject: Doggie swimming safety
Date Posted: 4/5/2008 10:00 PM ET
Member Since: 7/19/2006
Posts: 1,947
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My dog loves the water, and I try to give him as many opportunities to swim in the summer as possible. Unfortunately, for safety reasons I am rarely able to allow him to swim off leash. Usually I use a 20' rope clipped to his collar. This way he has the space to swim, but he can't really go anywhere. I'm concerned that clipping the rope to his collar isn't really the safest thing. First of all, I have to work really hard to keep the leash from getting tangled under his legs. Second of all, I can't really drag him away from danger because I'm pulling on his neck. I'm thinking about getting him a harness to wear, but that makes me concerned about chafing. Has anybody let their dog wear a harness swimming? Did it cause chafing? I have a GSD mix, and he has very thick hair so I don't think he would be particularly prone to chafing, but I want to make sure.

Second question: does anybody take their dog kayaking? I enjoy kayaking and I was thinking it would be a great way for my dog to get exercise. Obviously, he would be swimming alongside, not riding. He would never, ever sit still for riding. As I mentioned, I can't trust him off leash. So, my idea is to get him a doggie lifevest and use his 20' rope. Any thoughts on that? Good idea? Bad idea? Am I just asking for him to drag me across the lake or flip my kayak? On the odd chance that he would actually get tired of swimming, is it feasible for me to tow him along behind the kayak until we get back to shore?

Date Posted: 4/6/2008 11:30 AM ET
Member Since: 7/14/2007
Posts: 8,942
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BC - I have a life vest for my dog, but she's much smaller.  I've also taken her out in the kayak, and swimming.  It took her quite a while to get used to the life vest, and she still doesn't trust it to support her.

I think the concerns with kayaking are your distance from shore when the dog tires.  The life vest helps with that, once the dog is accustomed, but if he panics, what can you do?   Then there's the general tippiness of the kayak.  A sudden course change by your dog can tip you over and present you with a decision on dropping the leash or righting the kayak.  What you may be able to do is tie floaties (like the kid arm kind) along the rope to keep it afloat.

It sounds like fun for you and the dog - I hope you can get it to work out!

Date Posted: 4/6/2008 5:49 PM ET
Member Since: 7/19/2006
Posts: 1,947
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hey, those floatie things on the rope is a great idea. I'd've never thought of that.

Date Posted: 4/9/2008 10:01 AM ET
Member Since: 5/30/2007
Posts: 404
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or you could do it along shore so if the dog need to rest. I take my dog in a canoe at first she was real paniky and would jump out but then she would cry when we made her swim o shore. it was funny. she is getting used to it though.