Author Topic: Water Retrieving Safely  (Read 224 times)

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Online Moonsong

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Water Retrieving Safely
« on: September 01, 2017, 07:00:04 PM »
Sorry if this is in the wrong place, but I wasn't sure where would be better.

So I had a friend over today (a fellow service dog handler), and I was talking about Max's lack of motivation in training despite his drive to herd/water retrieve. She warned me to be very careful with water retrieving because she'd read an article about dogs who'd drowned from swallowing too much water during the retrieve.

I was wondering how I can prevent this/watch out for it.
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Offline Ariel

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Re: Water Retrieving Safely
« Reply #1 on: September 01, 2017, 07:12:47 PM »
Swallowing too much water is really only going to be an issue with a dog who is drowning or exhausted. A drowning dog will have no interest in retrieving as they will be trying to swim for their life. An exhausted dog who is a good swimmer may have issues with this. I have to watch Jubi for signs of exhaustion when we're practicing at the dock because she won't tell me. If I kept throwing her bumper she'd keep jumping after it and dragging herself up the ramp until she collapsed - be that in or out of the water.

When she's swimming I watch for gurgling. If she's making a gurgling sound when she's swimming she's tired even if she won't tell me. She'll also be panting quickly and constantly when she's exhausted from swimming. At that point I take her out and walk her or crate her until she is able to close her mouth between panting (sometimes she whines or pants out of excitement but she can still close her mouth then as panting is not a necessity). It's really only when the dog is too tired to retrieve and breathe efficiently while swimming that excessive water ingestion becomes a concern.

If Max is already a proficient swimmer and is doing water retrieves or you plan for him to do them soon, I wouldn't worry too much. Most dogs will lose interest in retrieving or get out of the water all together before they reach a point of exhaustion where excessive water consumption even becomes an issue. Regardless, keeping an eye on him and giving him rest breaks is going to be the key to health with any dog sport or activity.
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Online Moonsong

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Re: Water Retrieving Safely
« Reply #2 on: September 01, 2017, 07:18:51 PM »
I have to watch Jubi for signs of exhaustion when we're practicing at the dock because she won't tell me. If I kept throwing her bumper she'd keep jumping after it and dragging herself up the ramp until she collapsed - be that in or out of the water.

When she's swimming I watch for gurgling. If she's making a gurgling sound when she's swimming she's tired even if she won't tell me. She'll also be panting quickly and constantly when she's exhausted from swimming. At that point I take her out and walk her or crate her until she is able to close her mouth between panting (sometimes she whines or pants out of excitement but she can still close her mouth then as panting is not a necessity).

This is Max to a T. He'll keep going until he drowns without telling me he's tired. I listen for when he starts breathing heavily and then forcibly restrain* him until his breathing evens out again. He also wears a life-vest (his sharkie suit!).

*Usually this just means holding him, but sometimes if someone else is with us and they go under water he wants to go chase them, so then he struggles just a little, but it's not bad at all and after the initial struggle he lets me hold him


Thanks for the information! It sounds like I was already doing what I needed to be doing.
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Offline Summertime.and.Azkaban

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Re: Water Retrieving Safely
« Reply #3 on: September 01, 2017, 08:29:15 PM »
You can make sure his life jacket has a chin rest. This will prevent even a tired, collapsed dog from dropping his head underwater and drowning. Doggles makes one but the dog's head can fall off the rest. I prefer Guardian Gear's version better. I've had my hands on one and the rest is much wider and would be difficult for a dog's head to fall off.

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Online Moonsong

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Re: Water Retrieving Safely
« Reply #4 on: September 01, 2017, 08:40:53 PM »
That does look very nice, but wouldn't that make retrieving difficult?
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