Bosco in a life vest, eager for his first lesson.
Swimming Lessons & Other Aquatic Adventures at the Canine Fitness Center*
Recently a good friend of mine emailed and said that she was taking her young golden retriever for his first swimming lesson. “Swimming lesson,” I thought. “Now that’s new!” She had an appointment the next day with her Beau at the Canine Fitness Center (CFC) in Crownsville, Maryland, where they offer indoor swimming lessons and other aquatic “adventures” and therapies for canines. The very next day outside our clubhouse, I ran into Dianne Harab, longtime CDTC member, and her field spaniel Bosco who just so happened to have his first swimming lesson at CFC. “We had a blast!,” Dianne said excitedly. “They even blow dry your dog after the lesson is over.” With this news, I knew that I, too, had to take Kinsey, my corgi puppy for her first dip in the pool. Here’s what I’ve found out about CFC:
- All breeds are accepted at CFC. The only requirement is that all puppies and dogs must be up-to-date on shots and show proof of current rabies, distemper, and bordatella (I’m not sure if titer tests are accepted in lieu of actual vaccinations).
- You may bring your dog’s favorite water toy for retrieving or other games if you wish, but life vest, toys, towels, and post-swim blow-dry are included.
- Your first appointment should be scheduled for 30 minutes (flat rat of $33.50). This gives your dog plenty of time to get used to getting into the 4-foot pool via a ramp and to be gently guided by one of the training staff members. There are two side-by-side pools at CFC and only one dog per pool is scheduled at a time. Your dog gets his own pool and staff trainer to himself! After your first appointment, a 15-minute swim time is also an option (flat rate of $25.50). Although 15- and 30-minute appointments seem brief, keep in mind that swimming can be quite tiring for dogs in a short period of time. It’s a great way to burn off excess energy any time of year!
- Bring a leash that can get wet because some dogs need on-leash help for their first lesson. This also helps keep your dog safe in case he decides that he’s had enough and attempts to exit the pool’s edge.
- Can you join your dog in the pool? Afraid not, but you can enjoy playing with your dog poolside with encouragement, cheering him on, and helping him to swim laps and with retrieving games.
- Because a staff member is working closely with your dog, make sure your dog is okay with being handled and worked with by others. Of course, you stay with your dog the entire time—having fun with him to offer support (any dogs with reactivity or aggression issues ought not participate until those problems are dealt with appropriately.)
- Appointments for swimming session are available Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday appointments are available 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Do keep in mind that Saturdays book quickly! Same day appointments are usually available Tuesday through Friday, but do fill up in the after-work hours.
The Canine Fitness Center not only provides swimming lessons, but also features canine acupuncture, massage, and an underwater treadmill (a certified technician is on staff). Swimming and water therapies can increase circulation, muscle tone, and ease healing in dogs that are in surgical recovery or have other problems where they can’t take the impact of walking or running on the usual surfaces of the daily dog walk. Canine massage helps reduce stress and anxiety, prevent injury, and even aids in regulating sleeping and eating patterns. Canine acupuncture can help with pain management and other health issues (you must have a referral from your veterinarian). Getting your dog used to water also helps to ensure water safety at the beach, lake, or river. No doubt getting your dog into a new environment and doing a new activity is mentally stimulating and increases confidence in dog and owner alike.
So hop in the car this summer and take your dog swimming. It’s guaranteed that you’ll both have fun! Directions, phone numbers and many other details are available on the CFC website. Take note that CFC is closed on Sunday and Monday.
See the post Beat the Heat…Hit the Water for Summer Fun!.