07/27/2009 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Dogs Make A Big Splash

Some dogs love to doggie paddle and some don't. While Labs, Golden Retrievers, and Portuguese Water Dogs are natural born swimmers, there are many breeds of dog that prefer dry land. Due to their short legs, heavy bodies, and respiratory problems, Pugs and Bull Dogs aren't swimmers. Dogs with short, pushed in snouts should generally avoid the water as they have difficulty breathing. Canines, like my Maltese Lucky, are predisposed to arthritis and too much water causes stiffness in joints and muscles, this is one breed that does better on shore. Dogs that aren't Olympian swimmers can get wet ... as long as they wear a lifejacket!

If you have a breed that loves the water, encourage them to do so! Since they use the majority of their muscles while swimming, this is the most effective form of exercise for dogs. In particular, dogs that have suffered injuries should swim as a way to help heal, regain muscle mass and flexibility. Many first time canine swimmers may be nervous and timid at first, but there are several tips you can follow to help the process go swimmingly.

- Go in the water with your pet and hold him close to you above the surface so that he feels at ease.
- Avoid cold water - it may cause painful muscle spasms.
- If you're going to take your pet in natural waters avoid choppy and turbulent seas, and make sure he doesn't swallow much salt water, both cause nausea.
- Always show your dog the pool entrance and exit, so he can get in and out easily if he experiences muscle fatigue.
- Toss a toy your dog loves into the shallow end, throwing it close to an exit.
- If your pup becomes uncomfortable and starts frantically splashing, trying to keep his head above water, he's unfortunately not a swimmer. No biggie - and don't force him! There are several canine cabana product lines; your dog can relax poolside in the shade while you take a swim.