Doggie Paddling

Dogs have humans beat in a variety of areas – sniffing out crooks, unconditional love – and maybe something you hadn’t thought of – swimming!

Dogs naturally have low centers of gravity, four legs to propel them through the water, and a higher lung capacity than humans, and of course, the doggie paddle.  Breeds like the Lab, Newfoundland and others who historically worked in the water may also have waterproof undercoats and webbed feet.

Need proof? Labrador Retriever Peaches could try out for the Coast Guard:




Here are a few safety tips if you’re planning on taking your dog swimming this summer:

- Start in shallow water, and call your dog’s name.  You can also try to coax him in with a treat or toy – but always keep your dog within reach.

- Another way to introduce your dog to the water is with a familiar dog that already swims.  Let your dog follow his friend.

- If your dog begins to dog-paddle with his front legs only, lift his hind legs and help him float.  He should quickly catch on and will then keep his back end up.

- Swimming is a great form of exercise, but don’t let your dog overdo it.  As with any work-out, swim time should be increased in small increments. He will be using new muscles and may tire quickly.

- Be careful of strong tides or under currents that are hazardous for even the best swimmers.

- Whether swimming in a pool or natural body of water, always rinse your dog after swimming to rid your dog’s coat of harmful chemicals or parasites that he can pick up while swimming.

Do you have any photos of your dog swimming? Send them to and we’ll share them on the blog!

-- Stephanie