Why Would a Dog Wear a Buoyancy Aid?
I’m not sure there is a busier time of the year than the week before Christmas. Throw in the start of kid holidays, and my guess is that your houses are just as silly as ours is right now.
Clare’s article about looking after dogs in a water environment is just the right timing for the holiday fun we are “getting ready” to have, especially if the rain stops.
In health, Becky
Why Would a Dog Wear a Buoyancy Aid?
by Clare Cosson
This is a question I would have asked myself five years ago before I became involved with D-fa Dogs. My pedigree was more along the lines of designing outdoor clothing and equipment for two legged animals, but when we began to look at the idea of providing floatation for dogs it started to make sense.
As a kayaker I wouldn’t think about approaching white water without my floatation device: it boosts the natural floatation of my body and, designed well, it can help me survive in difficult situations such as swimming a rapid.
Dogs are short duration swimmers; if you watch them at play down at your local swimming hole, they will chase a stick out into the water for a short distance and then return to land. They, just like us, will tire during a big swim. So if you are taking your pooch out rafting or on the boat fishing, think about the type of swim they may be facing if things go wrong.
We are changing the behavior of our dog to suit our adventures. The on-water environment has some new challenges for your dog. Balancing on an SUP or kayak, different smells and sounds, the changing energy of the people around them as adrenaline rises and falls these all affect your dog.
So what should you be looking for in a buoyancy aid for a dog?
Look for a buoyancy aid that fits well and can be adjusted to fit well without having to be cinched up so tight it makes the dog uncomfortable. A jacket that is shaped to fit your dog will work better than a flat slab of foam that you try to wrap around your dog. One thing we have found is that dogs have big chests in comparison to their waists, which makes the jacket a challenge production-wise and doesn’t always lead to the most economic use of foam and fabric. However dogs aren’t shaped like tubes, so don’t buy them a jacket that looks like one!
You will want a jacket that allows your dog to swim unimpeded. This means leaving the shoulders free to move, and making sure that smaller dogs with shorter legs don’t get legs caught in gaping leg holes.
Rescuing a struggling dog from the water can be difficult. Dog-overboard rescues are easier if you have some kind of secure, well-fitted lifting harness around the dog in the water. Having a jacket with an inbuilt handle and a cradling harness will make it much easier to hold and lift the dog, reducing the risk of them swamping you. And most importantly will make the whole experience more comfortable and reassuring for your dog!
Finally look for something that is robust. Your dog isn’t thinking about taking care of its jacket when it is having fun! Chunky buckles and Cordura fabric take some of the maintenance stress out of the equation.
When we designed our jacket at D-fa we used the same skills and life experience we used to design buoyancy aids for humans. Initially this seemed a little strange, but made sense once we realised that dogs need the same stuff we do!
Clare has 2/3rds of a Fine Arts Degree, but she was diverted from the final third by a sudden and overwhelming affair with the world outside. She explored it in her kayak, allowing the flow to take her all over the world. Over a decade as a clothing and equipment designer for a major label segued into starting and running her own business with her husband, which they eventually sold (the business that is). She now lives in Hokitika on the West Coast of the South Island, working from home part time for her business D-fa Dogs, designing outdoor apparel for discerning pooches and their owners. Clare has two girls, Georgia (5) and Abby (3) and a husband who loves her deeply.
Re: Leanne’s Soap 101 article last week:
I’ve tried my hand at soapmaking. Did an evening course (4 nights jammed into 3, so very rushed!) and have made a few batches at home. Which is why I can totally appreciate the master skills of Leanne and find myself more content purchasing hand made soaps! Karen C.
Joy all creatures drink
At nature’s bosoms…
~Friedrich von Schiller, “Ode to Joy,” 1785, translated from German