A new K9 Water Sports facility opened near me (Paws Aquatic Water Sports and Rehab) that offers self and assisted swimming for therapy and fitness. They also have a regulation deck for dock diving with a pool 41ft long. WOW! I am so excited to have something so close to home, that my dogs LOVE. We used to swim as much as we could but time and distance kept us from doing it with any regularity. To say that my "big" dogs (Stan, Force, Riley and Drama) love the water would be an understatement.
Swimming can be a GREAT addition to any K9 Conditioning plan as long as the dog enjoys swimming and they swim efficiently using all four limbs. "Continuous" swimming is where the cardio benefits are - 5 min of continuous swimming is said to be equal to a 5 mile run. If the dog is retrieving - out and back, start and stop - it is not the same type of workout. Not to say that it isn't beneficial but it depends on your goal.
It is also important that your dog turns in both directions as well as drives out straight. You want all four feet to assist in turns. Watch that your dog doesn't use just their front limbs. :) What is nice about this wonderful pool is that is it 41' long and 21' wide so there is a lot of room for most dogs to get big wide turns as well as long straight swims.
So how does swimming fit into my fitness plans??
I love trying new things and of course enjoy watching my dogs do something they love.
My oldest who is almost 14 yrs old, truly loves "water". He is a very natural swimmer and genuinely is so happy when in the pool. He is my slow methodical swimmer that swims for the joy of swimming. He does not need toys and will tread water. For his age he is doing pretty good and I want him to get to have the joy of swimming as much as he can! (no dock diving)
Crazy, 11.5 yrs old Force, loves to swim but it is all about the toys and not very calm. He is an erratic swimmer until the toy is in his mouth and then he smooths out on the return trip to the ramp. If he carries a toy into the water, he is much smoother and I find that when I am in the water with him, I can get him to calm down. Force's general comfort in daily life is better when on a regular swim schedule. (no dock diving)
At 9.5 years old Riley loves to swim, loves the toys, and is a very smooth swimmer who can tread water. Riley loves everything he does and he does it with a smile on his face. He has no issues jumping off the dock for dock diving but has a bit of a confidence issue doing it at speed. He runs all out to the end of the dock and stops, then "plops" in the water. We will keep working on it, just for fun. (no swimming for Riley for a couple week as he is still healing form abdominal surgery - and definitely no dock diving for a while)
Mr Motor boat (15mo old) - Drama has turned into a little fish who loves the water and more than anything loves to save the chickens (rubber chickens). He LOVES to jump off the dock and after just a couple weeks, consistently jumps about 13' or so. He is a strong swimmer and clearly enjoys it. It is really fun watching how excited he is to jump off the dock.
Little dogs: Kaos (5yrs old) and Jack (17mo old)
They can swim, but so far they both would really rather stay on land.
Bobbie Lyons, CCFT, KPA CPT