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Discussion Starter #1
Can dogs drown? That's what I asked my hubby last night when our pup was in the middle of a goose flock in the middle of the lake for 10 minutes.

Cooper is 7 1/2 months old and 7 weeks post recovery from surgery for a fractured hind leg. He has only had short swims/retrieves in the water. He has been to this lake before with the geese and ignored them. Well not last night. He saw the geese and took off crashing into the water and becoming "one" with the flock. They didn't mind as they could stay a safe enough distance away from him. The water is still fairly cold 50 - 55 degrees and his hind leg still has minimal hair. He was so far from shore I'm not sure he could even hear us calling. If the flock had chosen to swim to the opposite shore I am completely confident Cooper would have followed. Finally he seemed to tire and looked toward shore as I was tossing his orange float in the air and flailing my arms like a mad woman and he swam in ran out of the water tail a waggin and proceeded to scarf down every goose turd he could find on the return walk to the truck! UGH

My heart rate has just begun to return to normal this morning.
 

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I would have been so scared! I'm no expert, but I think they could drown if they got too tired to return to shore. Especially a young pup with a compromised physical condition. If I were you, I'd keep him on a long line until he has a better recall. I wouldn't take the chance again.
 

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I'm inclined to agree with joflake on the check cord (long line), at least until you're sure about recall.

I'm so glad this had a good outcome for both of you. (UGH to the goose poop snacks!)
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Ya, he won't be swimming free anytime soon. He is the most intelligent but impulsive lab I've ever had. As for recall, he LOVES treats/food and it works if he is mildly distracted but I swear he does not hear us when he gets fully distracted. How do others handle this?
 

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Thank God he's Ok!!

If I were you, I'd keep him on a long line until he has a better recall. I wouldn't take the chance again. I use a 50-footer when I take my gang in the river. They can all swim, and it's not wide, but I'm always afraid the current will take them away. :)
 

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Yes, they can drown as they do not always know their ability or are able to judge how far the shore is. Dogs live in the here and now moment so first thought on their mind is for some hey cool ducks/geese...I'll go see them...then oops...I'm out too far. Some retrievers can also water freak where they just take off in the water and keep swimming straight out....just like running away on land but in the water....they just keep going until they get too far. Another option is to get a dog lifejacket -- PFD--- that way he can swim as long as he wants and it does also add a little warmth. Swimming is great exercise and does help with muscle condition and strengthening after an injury. I have a PFD for my lab because even though he is a strong swimmer I like to be safe and he is often far away from shore when out canoeing with me.

They also do not know enough to 'stay' out of the water when it is cold...they'll drop of hypothermia before they'd stop retrieving. That is my worries with my boy as he loves water so much that in the winter he'll want to get in the water and retrieve continuously, so I'll have to keep him on leash to keep him out.

I'd also opt to just keep your boy on a long line until he has a reliable recall,but remember not to let him go out too far on the long line so that you can untangle it in case it should get caught on something. Floating line/rope works well if you want him to get in the water a little.

Field/hunting dogs have e-collars and that his how they are able to control the dog when out numerous yards and hunting ducks/geese. They also use a whistle for the recall and they are conditioned to drop everything and get back in no matter how much they want to drive to the bird....just some insight as to how the hunting dogs are trained to call off birds.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
We have the PFD from our previous lab (used it on her as she got older and we would be on the lake in our boat) and I agree that it would be a good idea with this guy as well. When using the long lead in the water, can I use a whistle to cue him to come and then tug on the lead to bring him in treat and repeat, repeat, repeat then repeat some more?
 

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When using the long lead in the water, can I use a whistle to cue him to come and then tug on the lead to bring him in treat and repeat, repeat, repeat then repeat some more?
The whistle recall was one of the best things I taught Daisy, and it is really easy. Start the training in your home, or backyard. All you have to do is buy some extra special, yummy treats that you give your dog ONLY when you blow the whistle. It is simple Pavlov theory. Blow the whistle, give the yummy treat. The dog will learn that whenever he/she hears the whistle he's going to get the treat. Daisy will come immediately when I blow the whistle. You have to be sure that you always give the treat when the whistle is blown and also try not to overuse it (after the dog is trained).....save it for emergencies or it will lose it's magic.
 

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Dogs absolutely can drown. I once had to jump into a river when my previous lab, a very strong swimmer, got caught in a current and kept trying to fight it to get back to the island where we were camping. I swam down to him and then started to shore. He followed me in. I'm not sure what he would have done if I hadn't jumped in to show him the way to shore. I think he would have kept fighting the current until he was exhausted.

I'm glad your dog is OK!
 

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I would of freaked out if my lab did that. I normally keep Cody on 75ft rope when were at the river or lake. I do let him free swim for training purposes. I do have a life vest for him, when he rides the seadoo with me. It doesn't bother him at all when he is swimming with it.

Here is a pic of Cody's new life vest... I bought it this winter and he was testing it out in the pool.

 

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Gotta love the RUFF WEAR life vests...they are the greatest and look really nice. Sandy has the same one as Cody....looking pretty spiffy there Cody :D...Sandy's jealous he'd like a pool like that.

The whistle recall is a great idea and sounds like you have a good plan to train it. The whistle also comes in handy if ever your lab should get out of sight or lost you can blow on the whistle to draw him in or to help him find you. I'm glad things turned out well and sometimes we learn or realize new things as we go along...each dog is different so you just never know what they might teach us. I know Sandy continues to teach me a few things or two once in awhile....

Happy Training
 
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