Although Labradors are natural swimmers (and the breed I have shown for 20 years)–and I know many of you have many kinds of water dogs–BUT..there are still logical, common sense rules that some people don’t think of when swimming season begins.
First of all, if you are in “big water” it is advisable to use a floaty–that way if your dog gregariously begins swimming towards the other shore (a mile away?–yes, it happened to us once), you don’t have to worry about them getting fatigued and sinking. Although you are encouraging them to swim without one, I would NEVER be without one. In researching the top 5 life vests, I readily decided on this one for the quality and the price. The Vivaglory life vest.
I have one for puppies when they are learning, and for my adults. They come in a variety of colors and sizes and seem most comfortable for the dog. I also like the reflective parts and the bright colors to be sure I can see my dog well in large bodies of water.
Also, please watch this video about how to properly introduce your Labrador to the water. I’ve used this method for over 23 years. You can either make swimming a lifetime love for your dog or new puppy, or ruin it for them, for life, in just a few minutes, if not done properly.
Never, never force your dog into the water (or nudge them from behind). The video above will show you exactly how to introduce them properly to water.
Never, never allow your pet to jump repeatedly into a pool–above ground or inground. This slipping and sliding and running rapidly around a pool can put extra wear and tear on the newly developing joints (between 8weeks to 24 mos especially, while the growth plates are developing), and to avoid an ACL tear. Teach them to enter the pool by the STEPS ONLY and you will save yourself much grief, and your dog much pain and possible injury.
Always rinse their coat after swimming in chlorine or salt water to avoid drying of the coat and the skin.
Although sticks can be easy, readily available items to throw in the water for your dog to fetch, they can splinter and damage their mouth when they grab that stick out of the water–sometimes at strange angles. I highly recommend the Water Wubba which is specifically designed for fetching in water. It has a bright color so you can find it easily, it is the only Kong product that floats, is rugged and dries quickly after use.