Fire and rescue service throughout the country will often mention rescuing dog walkers when we discuss drowning prevention. So, it seems an appropriate time to give some safety advice for dog walkers as part of drowning prevention week. This advice is in addition to the general advice for walkers which CFOA has mentioned previously. Hopefully some simple advice will stop dog walkers and their four legged friends getting into trouble near water.
Not all dogs are good swimmers and not all dogs love water. Some dogs seem to be built for swimming with such as a Labrador with water repellent coats and webbed feet whilst others such as short legged and short haired breeds are more likely to struggle in water. Be mindful of your dogs abilities but also please take into account their age.
Most commonly fire services are called to dog walking incidents because an owner has entered the water to rescue a dog but there have been cases where people have entered trying to retrieve a toy for the dog.
Dog walkers safety advice
- If your dog loves the water make sure you have control of it. Keep it on a lead until you are ready to let him in for a swim. Make sure your dog won’t pull you into the water, if you can’t hold him back and stop him jumping in maybe reconsider walking near water
- Be careful about throwing stick or toys in for the dog to retrieve – there could be currents or hazards under the water
- Don’t throw things out too far – your dog may tire and struggle to make it back
- Most dogs can only swim for a short time – they can become tired quickly. Not only can they get into trouble in the water they may then find if difficult to scramble out.
- Look at the edges – rocks, wet river banks, steep edges can all make it hard for a dog to get out of the water.
- Don’t try and lift your dog out of the water. You can easily over balance and fall in
- Be very careful following a dog over mud or sand. Many fire services have had to rescue people from sinking into mud or ‘quicksand’
- Never enter the water to try and rescue a dog. Call for help. The chances are if you follow the dog in it will be you that need rescuing. Sometimes the dog manages to scramble out but the owner is not so lucky
If your dog has struggled in the water and has managed to make it out it is worth getting them checked by a vet. Just as with humans, if water has entered the lungs drowning can occur at a later stage.