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    1. #1
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      happy_blackbird's Avatar
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      Water Safety At The Ocean

      Hi, everyone. I am not sure if this is the correct place at which to post this, but it seems like it could fall under training.

      We live pretty close to the Pacific Coast. Ellie is 7 months old now and we've been to the Bay numerous times (she dunks, but doesn't swim yet). I took her to Muir Beach last month for the first time, which is a cove beach on the Pacific, but still a much rougher shoreline that the Bay. The waves looked pretty big to me, even in the somewhat protected landscape (though nothing like the northern California Coast, which is truly a washing machine). She was really excited by the waves, but I, honestly, was terrified she would get sucked out by a undertow or get pummeled in the surf. I also felt unsure if her first experience swimming should be rough surf. She was VERY frustrated that I wouldn't let her off leash at the waterline (she zoomies when she is frustrated, so it's easy to read). There were dogs in the water, but they were all much older and larger than the Belly Monster. Our last lab was a strong, beautiful swimmer, but was too ill by the time we moved to California to ever experience the Pacific (she did fine in the Atlantic).

      Here is my question. What is everyone's approach to taking your lab to an ocean beach (as opposed to a lake or pond)? Do you put a floaty vest on your pup? Is there any specific training protocol for beach fun? How do you ensure their safety? Is seven months too young for the Pacific? Am I being over-protective?
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      The Belly Monster!

    2. #2
      Senior Dog
      ChoppersDad's Avatar
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      Here are a few safety tips while on the beach with your pup:

      - There is nothing wrong with putting a safety vest on your pup. It is better to be safe than sorry.
      - Respect the ocean. It is very strong. Watch our for the undertow of the ocean.
      - Be prepared to get wet. Many people take their dogs to the ocean and are not prepared to get wet.
      - Watch the water temperature. The ocean can get very cold during the winter months.
      - Watch the sun during the summer months. Dogs can overheat.
      - Avoid letting your dog drink salt water. It will make him vomit.
      - Make sure you bring a leash. There are many distractions at the beach. Your pup may not always listen to your recalls.
      - Don't forget his collar and tags.
      - Keep your dog in site at all times.
      - Rinse the salt from your dog after romping in the ocean.
      - Bring towels to dry off your pup.
      - Don't forget the poop bags.

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    4. #3
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      barry581's Avatar
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      I know a few hunters who use these. http://www.cabelas.com/product/Cabel...tor/732700.uts They give the dog a bit of buoyancy and helps them retain body heat. I'm sure the water in Nor Cal is pretty chilly. I've never used one of these, and I'm sure a few of the members who hunt will chime in!!!

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    6. #4
      Senior Dog
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      POPTOP's Avatar
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      Great list Chopper's Dad. Our closest big body of water is Lake Michigan and waves are rarely a concern. However, I keep Archie on a long lead. This could be attached to some type of vest.

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    8. #5
      Senior Dog
      ZoeysMommy's Avatar
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      I keep mine on long flex leads if we go to CA. The ocean is quite different compared to the lakes that they are used too

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    10. #6
      Real Retriever
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      I guess I am the odd man out. I let my labs learn through the school of hard knocks. Sunshine's first trip to the Outer Banks was when she was a year old. She had been in salt water many times before, estuaries, the sound... Waves were 1' to 3' tall at most. She spent most of her time RUNNING up and down the beach in the wash. She had no troubles learning to time her jump over the breaking wave as she went out for something.

      Out on the Banks, she got bowled over a few times by not paying attention to the breaking waves. She also learned that if she didn't bring items far enough up the beach, one wave later they were gone. I do NOT let her swim in the ocean out there though, we go to the sound side for swimming. It is excellent fishing there but all that feeding brings in the predators. I've seen folks reeling in a good sized Drum, all of a sudden it stops fighting. They reel in half a fish.

      If she did go out, and got stuck in a rip, I would just direct her to one side or the other, then in to me. I couldn't see her ever needing a flotation vest, she is a strong swimmer as she swims a lot. If I am fishing and she gets bored, she will grab a stick and take it for a long swim out in the lake.

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    12. #7
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      TuMicks's Avatar
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      30 foot line. You can haul her back if necessary.

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    14. #8
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      kelsyg's Avatar
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      I take my girls to the beach regularly. I use those long cotton training leashes when in the ocean. They are very good swimmers -the instinct just kicked in the first time they hit the water. I use the leash for my comfort because I am afraid of riptides. On the boat, I think a harness is important in case you need to "retrieve your retriever" Learned this the hard way! (Most vests are harnesses)
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      Cornerstone's Lady Rebecca, CGC (Reba)
      Born to love and be loved on July 31, 2010

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    16. #9
      Senior Dog
      Jeff's Avatar
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      I would recommend lakes and ponds first so she learns how to swim and is comfortable swimming. At her age she will have a ton of energy but not a lot of strength as she will next year. Now not to say she shouldn't go in the ocean just that fighting waves are hard and a lot more work and they have to learn that even when their feet touch they can't sit still, a wave is coming right behind them. Then the other thing I do not let Hemi go into the waves unless I am with him and swimming. I just don't. I have had to real him in to the beach for a rest before. He wouldn't know to stop because it is too much fun.

      The other thing if you are driving there, get a tarp for your seat. I think half the beach sand comes right back into my truck.

      Also just a thought, if you have not thought of dog back packs. They are great. I make Hemi carry his towel and mine, spare leash and treats and poop bags. I carry the water. It can really be rough with with wet excited lab and your hands are full.

      Hemi going to the beach.


      Hemi at the beach
      http://vid1251.photobucket.com/album...pshll3qzni.mp4

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    18. #10
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      When we lived in CA, Charlie swam at Carmel Beach nearly every day. He was fine. He also swam in Big Sur and Asilomar Beach, and other areas along the coast.

      I wouldn't recommend using a life jacket in the ocean. I honestly feel like it would make him less safe. It could get caught on something, the waves could carry him out making it harder for him to swim, who knows. That being said, he does have a vest for swimming up at the lake.

      Charlie is a strong swimmer, so is my husband, so when husband came to the beach Charlie got to swim out much further than I ever allowed with just me. Just be safe, be smart, do what you are comfortable with.

      Burton never ventured far out into the ocean water, though he loves swimming elsewhere.

      If you feel uncomfortable or your pup isnt taking to swimming with the waves, then try something easier like a pool, lake or pond.

      Have fun! My boys are both so happy in the water, you'll enjoy it too! :*)
      Charlie and Burton


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