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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
We're thinking of ways to work out our dog and I've been wanting to take her swimming with me (ocean). Today I took her out and she kept just a little behind me and kept up for about 200m, at which point I stopped as it was our first time trying it.

A couple of questions:

1) Do people who swim with their dog have life jackets or simply let them swim?
2) Do you attach the dog to you in some way? I don't want to do a heavy leash tied to me for fear I'd keep kicking it and pulling her under. I'm also not super keen on just letting her free swim in case she veers off (doubt she would, but never know).

Thoughts?

(And for a brief background, the area is fairly protected so while it's technically open ocean, it's in a channel, heavily swum by people, and fairly wave free.)
 

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I haven't done oceans but yes to lakes and rivers. I ALWAYS use a life jacket for my dog if we are spending significant amounts of time on the water (ex. paddlboarding) even though he is super athletic and driven. For just-fetch in a pretty low risk, still body of water, I don't use a life jacket.

I don't tether my dog to me; it seems like a safety hazard. In some instances I've had him dragging a light line. But even with that I see where it could get him stuck in a river so I am rethinking my options for this season.
 

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Only river swimming for a bit. I have the Outward Hound life jackets. Very affordable for the quality, good fit. I did use a biothane lead while swimming because I was kind of letting the dog pull me and it was very clear water with rocky (smooth) bottom. One option would be a traffic lead attached to the top of the jacket, something a bit easier to grab but much harder to tangle or trap.

I would use a life jacket in any kind of moving water or deep open water. Anywhere that the dog could not quickly and easily set food on solid ground if they started tiring out and anywhere that I could not stand comfortably on solid ground in the water while carrying the dog.
 

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I own a pond but it is not a large pond. I do not use life vests. If the water weren't so cold I would swim with my dog.
 

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I think if you're out there swimming with the dog a life jacket would be a good idea since the dog will likely want to stay with you rather than go back to shore, even when tired. Anywhere with a current or riptide I would definitely recommend using a lifejacket.

Pepper loves to swim, but usually we're on shore while she's in the water so she never goes very far and comes back in frequently. She only wears a lifejacket if it's in the river (never done the ocean).

I've only had Pepper on a tether once, but I was on shore and she was in the water. It was an on-leash area so I couldn't have her loose. I would think it would be a safety hazard otherwise since it could catch on something.
 

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I swim with mine alot. Alot. We live about five minutes from a beach where its mostly locals, very few tourists. We also take ours in the boat out to islands and beaches that are free of people. We personally dont do life vests, but we stay out of fast moving water too. An afternoon of swimming and free running on the beaches is about what it takes to actually tire my dog out. Saltwater is good for the skin too ( humans and dogs ). Biggest issue here is stingrays, we make a point to make a ton of noise in the water to scare them off. My dog is my fishing buddy alot of the time, we chill in the boat or on the beach somewhere fishing, then take breaks to both cool off in the water. Beau LOVES to swim. First time he saw the ocean he jumped right in attacking the waves, baitfish, shrimp, birds- everything lol. Now I've managed to teach him to pull me towards shore by his collar;)
He's also got a well made set of saddlebags so when we beach walk or explore islands he carries his and my water, collapsible dish, small first aid kit, and a few other small items. Beats loading myself up with a backpack. I got lucky with this dog- everything I like to do he is also very enthusiastic about, he even seems to love his saddlebags lol. I like to say he has good work ethic.
 

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All the time. I don't use a life jacket for dog playing fetch in relatively slow water from the shore, but ON the water, or both of us out there swimming and playing? Yeah, life jacket and no way tether. I love my dogs but being climbed because they get tired is a thing that has happened. With a 12lb dog, no biggie, a 35-70lb dog, it's going to be an issue.
 

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On a related topic - don't let your dog drink too much of the water when swimming. Water intoxication can be fatal. Pepper always bites at the water as she swims, but we make sure she takes lots of breaks in between swimming. One time when we did take her to to ocean she must have drunk too much seawater because she got really sick. She didn't have any more water than usual, just too much saltiness I guess.
 

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I let Ralphie swim in ponds and rivers. We're typically in on-leash areas for this, so he's on a long line while I stay on shore. I try to keep the lead clear of the water and not let it drag behind him. Solution for lead getting caught on something: pocket knife with serrated edge. In an emergency whip that thing out and cut the dog loose. Also works good to remove fishing line that gets stuck around legs, or other debris that dogs can get tangled in. I actually worry more about fishing line and that clingy plastic stuff that lurks at the bottom than a long line getting caught on something.
 

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On a related topic - don't let your dog drink too much of the water when swimming. Water intoxication can be fatal. Pepper always bites at the water as she swims, but we make sure she takes lots of breaks in between swimming. One time when we did take her to to ocean she must have drunk too much seawater because she got really sick. She didn't have any more water than usual, just too much saltiness I guess.
Stagnant ponds also seem to give some dogs a bad case of digestive upset which results in multiple potty trips in the middle of the night and accidents in the crate while you're at work....Ralphie got into a very large drainage ditch that I thought would be fine, and I dealt with that catastrophe for four days. So, swim in well-drained areas like rivers or actual lakes.
 

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I actually worry more about fishing line and that clingy plastic stuff that lurks at the bottom than a long line getting caught on something.
Geez I didn't even think of that. Add one more worry to the list.



Stagnant ponds also seem to give some dogs a bad case of digestive upset which results in multiple potty trips in the middle of the night and accidents in the crate while you're at work....Ralphie got into a very large drainage ditch that I thought would be fine, and I dealt with that catastrophe for four days. So, swim in well-drained areas like rivers or actual lakes.
Yes they can get sick from algae blooms or other parasites too.
 

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Geez I didn't even think of that. Add one more worry to the list.
Yeah, I didn't either, until he got caught in a huge bundle of fishing line with a gosh darn hook on one end! I had to cut him out, which was terrible with a 1 year old dog who just wanted to go and not deal with me, lol! But yeah, pocket knife, and just keeping an eye out for trash like that.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
One follow-up question:

I went swimming with her today and she was constantly trying to get up on my back. Does anyone have any training tips for getting her to swim alongside rather than on top?
 

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I would say she's probably just not confident in the water yet. Don't allow her to climb on you. Keep a distance away until she's learned it's okay to be on her own. Of course if she's doing it because she's tired then head to shore to give her a little break.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
She seems fine in the water and certainly wasn't tired (I'm not sure my dog can get tired). I would love to keep her at distance but she's just a touch faster swimmer than I am meaning she can catch me. I'm thinking I might swim parallel to shore where I can touch and whenever she gets close stand up and push her to the side. Thoughts?
 

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Just push your dog away and tell him no when he tries to climb on you. Eventually he'll get the message. My wifes lab used to do the same thing. Could swear she was trying to drown you. Funny thing was we figured out she was trying to " help ". One day while on vacation we were swimming in a freshwater lake, she was doing the try to climb on thing- I grabbed her collar to push her away and she immediately headed for shore with me in tow. We did it several more times and each time she would pull me back to shore. She looked pretty happy about it too. She doesnt try to climb on anymore, but she'll still pull someone back to shore if you grab her collar while swimming.
 
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