Features April 2009 Issue

Canine Swimming Lessons, The Perfect Exercise For Your Dog

Swimming is the “perfect exercise” for you and your dog.

For those of us who regularly swim for fitness, we know why swimming is often referred to as “the perfect exercise.” In addition to the physical benefits shared with other forms of aerobic exercise, swimming offers some unique benefits. It eliminates the effects of weight-bearing on the joints, exercises the entire body – upper and lower – at the same time, and, in most cases, is something we can do for our entire lives, even if age precludes us from taking part in other forms of exercise. The physical benefits of swimming are the same for your canine companion as they are for you – that is, if you have a dog who will swim. Even though they actually have a stroke named after them, the notion that all dogs are “natural swimmers” is an erroneous one. Some breeds were developed to work in water and are more physically adapted for swimming than others. The problem here is not getting these dogs into the water, but keeping them on terra firma when we want them to stay clean and dry. However, occasionally, even a water breed shows disdain for water – yes, there are some Labrador Retrievers who hate swimming. Conversely, there are dogs you’d never imagine taking kindly to the water who become devoted and skilled swimmers. Although not blessed with the physical advantages of a water breed, and despite sinking rear ends or heavy, wet coats, these Boston Terriers, Rhodesian Ridgebacks, and Siberian Huskies have learned to enjoy swimming. They don’t know or care that they have to work a little harder than a Poodle, Cocker Spaniel, or a Newfoundland – they just want to have fun!

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