Q: My dog has never been swimming. Should I let him jump in the lake?

A: Swimming may seem natural for dogs, and most of them love it, but even natural-born swimmers need to be trained. Here's how your dog — and you — can make the most of the heat with a few water safety tips.

Building confidence is important. Not all breeds are natural swimmers, and even those that are may be afraid the first time they enter the water. Be sure to take it slowly in shallow water and praise your dog every step of the way.

If your dog begins to dog-paddle with his front legs only, lift his hind legs to help him float. He should quickly catch on and keep his back end up.

Don't overdo it. Swimming is great exercise for your dog, but don't let him do too much. As with any workout, swim time should be increased in small increments. He will be using new muscles and may tire quickly.

Rinse off your dog, especially if he's been in a pool. Spray your pup with a hose right after he gets out of the pool to rinse off the chemicals from the pool water.

Take care of the ears. Dab your dog's ears with a dry towel or use a blow dryer on a low, cool setting to get rid of excess moisture. Most infections in dogs with floppy ears are caused by too much water and dampness.

Never leave your dog unsupervised while in the water. Your dog may need your help and be unable to bark to grab your attention.

American Kennel Club