Springtime Water Safety for Dogs

So, at last it’s spring! The almost all of the snow has melted in our mountain town and across the country, people are getting out more and enjoying the warmth and sunshine. But don’t forget that along with warmth and snow melting, comes higher rivers and even flooding in some areas. Add to that, the fact that not all of the ice has melted in some colder places, you have a potentially dangerous situation that could affect you and your dog.

We all want to take to the trails and hike, now that we can get around easier and the weather has changed, but before you head out, whether it’s for a little stroll around your neighborhood, or a hike in the woods, make sure you can control your dog and that you keep your eyes and ears open at all times.

There are two issues you need to keep on your mind in order to keep your dog safe and yourself too; fast, deep waters and weak ice.

Fast rivers and streams can deceive the most careful pet owner, simply because you might not think that your dog would head into something flowing that hard, but not only is that not the case, a lot of dogs head down to the water’s edge and fall in. Some dogs just don’t judge the velocity and jump on in because that’s what they did last summer, and then they find themselves in a lot of trouble. The fast moving water isn’t really the problem; it’s the objects in the water that can cause the hazards. Strainers are obstacles in the water that water can flow through and over but you (and your dog) can’t, causing the swimmer to be pushed up against or under them. Not all strainers are visible above the water, but the most common are logs and trees. Another hazard is a hydraulic (or Maytag or washer). When the water flows over an object, it creates a strong churning on the other side that is like a recycling motion, continuously pulling the swimmer back under water.

No matter what the obstacle, you need to be constantly on the alert and keep your dogs away from the edge of fast moving rivers and streams, and don’t forget, they can slip in just as easily as the rest of us, so keep them away.

Many people are aware of the dangers of ice breaking and someone falling through, and this isn’t any different for animals. Sadly, we’ve been involved in several ice rescues of pets and very often, we were too late to help. Right about now, some bodies of water can still be ice covered and look just fine to a pet, but the ice can easily break, causing them to fall in and most likely under, some intact ice.

All of these water hazards have 2 things in common; they can kill your dog, and they can kill you when you try to rescue them.

So in conclusion, please prevent the problem by watching your dogs carefully and monitoring the conditions around you while you’re out and about in this beautiful weather. Let’s all make this a safe and fun spring!

Spring Water Danger for Dogs

alhailthedog.com

So it’s almost spring or, it already is, depending on where you live. Additionally, like those of us in the northwest, it’s spring as we know it. And while that means more fun; more walks, agility OUTSIDE (woohoo), trail rides, dog soccer etc. it also means some increase in dangerous conditions. For my area, that means melting snow making rivers much, much faster with enough ice still around them to make them even more dangerous.

Many of us are well aware of the danger of frozen water; who hasn’t seen the news stories with the daring rescues or devastating losses of life, both animal and human? Only last year, a young woman from our area lost her life when she jumped in a rushing, springtime river to rescue her dog. The dog died as well, and I know full well, that even though I’m armed with all the facts and water rescue trained from my job on the fire department, I would jump in to save my dogs too. Kind of a bad thing all around, so what can we do?

Well I would have to say that prevention is the key action here; for all the training or swimming ability one might have, our best bet is to keep our dogs from getting into danger in the first place. You need to know your area, you have to have sufficiently trained your dogs and you need to be aware of the conditions near you at all times.

While we usually know our “spot” where we walk or hike with our dogs, we can also get a little complacent, especially if it’s an after work walk or you’re in a rush. Situational awareness is something we firefighters are always trying to maintain, but everyone can benefit from it; keep aware, read up on weather alerts, water levels and just pay attention.

The training issue is another matter entirely. I could, (and will, some other time), go on and on about how a trained dog is happier, has a better life and has happier owners. However, for the purpose of this article, let me just say that at the very least, a recall command is the simplest lifesavers around, literally. One of my training trademarks is the “this way” command. Accompanied with a wave of the arm, it’s such an easy command and can teach dogs to dramatically alter their course; sometimes all they need to stay out of trouble. “This way” is not a substitute for a recall command, but instead a quick alternative. It’s also very beneficial because when you’re teaching it, it’s incorporated into a fun activity; as in “hey, lets go up this path” or “look, I’m throwing a ball for you” vs. being put back on the leash (not always super enticing).

One more, oft repeated word; know your dog CPR.  To find a class near you, ask your vet or go to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0AFrUiRIeVo  or any of the great site you can Google Any way you look at it, for us to stay safe and keep our pets safe, we need to take a little time to focus on safety, not just

cute dog accessories, dog treats and the latest toys. Have a happy spring day!