Una needs to exercise to get some muscle on her, and to (hopefully) give a signal to her bones that they need to grow stronger to handle the increased load (for background, read my post about seeing an orthopedic specialist).
We went to Onnenkoira in Hyvinkää. They have dogs’ swimming pool and professional assistants to teach dogs how to swim calmly and safely.
There were 3 other dogs sharing the 30 minute appointment, and one professional assisting dogs when needed. The fee for was 20 € per dog.
Una was quite scared about the place, needing some time to stay in the entrance hall, pacing between the door and the swimming facility. I let her take her time, and allowed her to go to the front door as much as she wanted. I could do this standing in one place myself, so I gave Una as calm an example as possible. Didn’t talk to her, just let her get over her fear. When she was able to go into the area next to the pool, it was time to give her a warm shower and put the life jacket / swimming jacket on. She was very worried about everything going on around her: strange dogs, people, noises… But she was very brave and could function, so I decided it was okay to just let her learn that in this place nobody is going to do anything to her against her will – except me, pushing her into the pool…
They had told me beforehand that dogs need to be pushed along the ramp that leads into the water in the beginning. So, I helped get Una in the water, where the professional took lead and guided Una gently to the right direction and the correct swimming position. I walked beside the pool ahead of her to cheer her on. Una was a very good swimmer right from the start – didn’t panic but started swimming to follow me after just a brief moment of insecurity and confusion. She got compliments for her good self-esteem and technique in swimming 🙂 For the last swim, I pushed Una to the waterline and then talked her into gathering the courage to get into the water herself. And she did 🙂
There was a nice lady accompanying another dog, who was willing to take a little video of Una’s performance. This was maybe her third swim.
It was fun! I hope Una will get over her fear of the other dogs, people and noise, and starts to enjoy the whole experience. I’m sure she will 🙂
I’m planning on taking her swimming once a week at least until we have the control appointment at the clinic.
PS. Una was quite boisterous all evening, after the swim! Wanted to play the gentle wrestling she has learned to do, with people’s’ hands acting as the other dog’s jaws, showed happy face a lot, started a tug-of-war with her leash going down the stairs on her late night walk… This has not been very characteristic of her so far 🙂 Made me very happy 🙂