Life jackets are essential for water-faring doggos, but getting a canine comfortable with one can be a "ruff" ride for pup parents. Whether your doggy is a swimming "pawfessional" or still learning the strokes, a personal floatation device is crucial. Even expert swimmers like Retrievers and Labs get tired before they can make it back to dry land. Having a life preserver can keep them afloat and prevent exhaustion.
If you're the pet parent of a clothes-hating dog, you may be thinking "how on Earth can I convince my dog to wear this contraption?!" Don't worry. We'll cover how to train your dog to wear a life jacket in three different ways.
First, decide what type of floatation device is best for your dog's needs. A common misconception is doggy life jackets are the same as life vests. Life jackets are often bulkier and may interfere with swimming. Life vests, on the other hand, provide less protection but allow more mobility. Keep in mind that life vests aren't recommended for open water and should be used under careful supervision.
After deciding the appropriate style for your dog, you'll need to find the right fit. Use a tape measure to find your dog's length from neck to hind, then the circumference of the broadest part of their chest. Compare your measurements to the size charts to find the correct size. Don't guestimate your dog's measurements — life jackets must fit precisely to work correctly.The final defining step in training a dog to wear a life jacket is introducing the equipment the proper way. It's crucial that the dog makes positive associations with the life jacket; this will minimize stress (for you and Fido) and make them want to wear it again.
You'll need to have a few things on hand before you start training. First and foremost, a quality life jacket.
Things to look for in a good doggy life jacket:
A bright, reflective, or neon-colored life jacket that's easy to spot.
A handle, lead or strap to help you maneuver your dog in the water.
A life jacket that fits properly in both length and width.
A D-ring where you can clip Fido's leash
A design with adjustable straps.
Other things you'll need:
A tennis ball