On July 8, my dog Kuma turns 1 years old. He officially moves up the canine ladder from the ranks of cute little puppy to adult dog. And I think, with that transition, come certain expectations.
Allow me to digress. As some readers know, I very much enjoy the hiking, biking, camping, kayaking side of life and—because I've taken him with me since he was a puppy—Kuma enjoys these activites too.
But during our trips to Battle Creek Dog Park—a park that includes three or four sizeable ponds—I've made a concerning realization: Kuma can't swim.
He plays in the ponds and chases the other dogs in and around the water but once he reaches neck level, he abruptly stops.
While he's not exactly a Lab, Retriever or Spaniel, I know several Shepherds that love swimming. In fact, the three Shepherds we owned growing up all loved the water. I guess I assumed swimming was an innate ability for most dogs. Perhaps that's naive.
Kuma's inability to swim would not really be a huge deal if dog parks and walks around the block were the extent of our adventures. But because his breed is a very active one, that type of limited exercise is an impossibility.
If we're hiking and come across a nice shallow lake, I'd like to be able to play fetch with him. More importantly, if we're canoeing or kayaking and for some reason we capsize, Kuma's inability to swim could have truly disastrous results.
So, as the summer wears on and the lakes get warmer, my plan is to run him through a series of dog swimming lessons.
Just like I would a child, I'll hold him up while he gets used to moving in the water and gradually allow him to navigate—admittedly this would have been much easier to start when he wasn't 60 pounds of flailing limbs and sharp teeth.
Does anybody have any experience teaching their dog to swim? How about any recommendations for non-crowded lakes?