Like any other breed of dog, some Westies like to swim, and others may not like the water so much. However, even if your Westie loves to swim, one thing is for sure; it should never be done without adult supervision! Some dogs are just natural swimmers, while others take some time to adjust and get used to it. And then some dogs simply will not like swimming. Now, which category your dog belongs to, is for you to find out.
Important Things to Keep in Mind When Your Westie is Swimming
There are some crucial aspects regarding Westies (and dogs in general) and swimming that you have to keep in mind. These aspects include safety, training, supervision, benefits, and risks that are all part of the experience when you let your Westie into the water. Let’s breakdown these crucial factors so that both you and your Westie can have a stress-free time in the pool!
That’s right, your dog’s build can determine how good a swimmer he or she will be. Breeds with short muzzles and short legs aren’t usually built for record-breaking swimming styles. Since Westies do have somewhat shorter muzzles and thighs compared to, say Labs, not all of them may be natural swimmers.
But this is no reason why they shouldn’t learn swimming. With the right training and direction, Westies can learn to love the pool.
Start Young and Start Small
Experts agree that the best time to let your dog start learning is when he/she is still a pup. And with low doses of water and depth depending on your dog’s size and nature.
A good idea here is to reward your Westie with treats when they step into shallow water (a bathtub or shallow area of the pool works). Then, gradually go slightly deeper as they start to learn to paddle. Remember that this should be done over a period of time (weeks if needed). Don’t overburden them with too many things.
Swim Only Where It’s Safe
Take precautions to make sure that your Westie is not exposed to stagnant waters or outdoor ponds that may be unsafe and contain infectious stuff. The last thing you’d want is to let your Westie fall sick or contract a disease after a fun day out in the water.
Minor infections can usually be treated at the vet, but as in most cases, prevention is way better than cure.
Should Your Westie Wear a Life Jacket?
If your Westie is still learning how to swim, a life-jacket can be a life-saver! It isn’t the most convenient thing in the world, but strapping it on can make the difference between a refreshing swim and a life-threatening accident.
Doggy life-vests are especially helpful because they help your dog keep their head above water (this is crucial for taking breaths). Also, it makes it easier for you to guide them if you’re swimming alongside.
Control Access to the Pool
Remember what we said about ‘Never without supervision?’ This means you should not give your Westie unfettered access to the pool. If they decide to take the plunge (pun intended) while you’re not around, they get exposed to risks on their own.
If you have a backyard pool, make sure the door leading to it is always closed if you’re not at home. Additionally, some people prefer putting up removable fences around the pool. This allows your kids or pets to still play in the backyard without having to go into the pool. Either way, it’s not advisable to let your Westie get unsupervised access to the pool or any other water body.
Train Your Dog to Swim
We’ve touched on this already, but it’s important to elaborate on something so crucial when it comes to your Westie’s safety. In addition to treats, make sure you are there alongside them when they’re taking those critical first steps. Westies are intelligent, and they can be encouraged when the owner is right there in the water urging them forward.
Since they’re small dogs, they may have trouble finding the stairs when they’re starting out. If you’re there with them, you can gently guide them out of the pool when needed.
Need the Exercise
As you’re already aware, your Westie needs a regular and adequate amount of exercise. Depending on your Westie’s personality and age, this may range anything from under an hour to a couple of hours. If your Westie is comfortable with swimming, this can be a great alternative to other forms of exercise.
Swimming strengthens and exercises every part of your dog’s body. And it gives them crucial cardiovascular activities that boosts their overall health. Better mental health, longer lifespan, better rest, etc. are just a few of the several benefits your dog can get form swimming.
Westies are known to be very individualistic. You’ll find that each has its own personality and inclination. Moreover, they come with different health conditions and metabolism. So, if you’re unsure about what your Westies swimming needs are, don’t hesitate to consult your vet.
Westies are fun little companions who come with a lot of brains and a lot of energy. This means they need a lot of exercise too (this will depend on their age and personality). But whether or not swimming is the best choice depends on your particular Westie.
Remember, the right safety, training, supervision, and knowledge about your Westie can go along way in making sure they don’t merely swim, but enjoy it thoroughly!
If you’ve had fun or memorable experiences swimming with your Westie, leave a comment below. We’d love to hear about your Westies and how they learnt how to swim. Remember, each Westie is special and unique, and each story you share makes us all better off!