As we head into the Fourth of July holiday, lots of dogs will be traveling to various lakes and beaches with their families. While the dogs swim, run, play fetch and chase squirrels, it’s important for dog owners to keep some safety tips in mind. The following are some ideas to help keep your dog safe at the lake this summer.
1. Don’t forget your ID!
Make it as easy as possible for your dog to get back to you if he ever gets lost. Dogs should always wear their collars with ID tags, but this is even more important when traveling. If your dog gets lost in your own neighborhood, at least he might be able to find his way home. But if he gets lost in a new environment, he won’t know where to go. Likewise, the people he runs into won’t recognize him.
2. Keep your dog on a leash.
Even if your dog normally comes when called, he might not listen as well in a new environment with all the new smells, sights and sounds. If it’s around the Fourth of July, people could be setting off firecrackers or fireworks that could scare your dog and cause him to bolt. Until you’re 99 percent sure your dog will stay close, keep him on a leash or a long rope for safety.
3. Dog life jackets.
Consider using a dog life jacket for safety reasons. While some of us own water nuts (like my Lab), sometimes these dogs will push it too far and swim to the point where they are exhausted. This is especially true if the dog is out of shape or if the dog is obsessed with retrieving toys or sticks from the water. It’s up to us as the owners to recognize our dogs’ limits and keep them safe. You can do this by asking your dog take breaks from swimming and keeping a life jacket on your dog.
Other dogs love to hang out on the dock or on the boat, but they may not like being in the water. They may not be the best swimmers, either. Life jackets are a nice safety precaution for these dogs in case they ever fall in the water. And the handles on the top of the life jackets make it easy for lifting any dog back onto the dock or boat.
4. Take plenty of water breaks in the shade.
Bring along cold drinking water for your dog. Most dogs will probably just drink from the lake without getting sick, but this isn’t exactly the cleanest water for them. When you pack water for yourself, bring some for your dog. You may also want to pack a bowl for him to drink from such as this collapsible dog bowl.
5. Dog training should be ongoing.
I always tell people to work on training their dogs every day. Work on the basics – sit, down, stay, come, heel – in a variety of environments throughout the year. All that hard work will pay off when you visit “exciting” places like the lake and your dog is able to remain calm and under control. A well-behaved dog generally gets to visit more places, experience more freedom and spend more time with his favorite people.