by Cindy Horsfall
A dog will usually arrive at your pool in order to regain full range of motion, to build confidence, to build muscle and strength. I personally don’t often use a flotation device as I want to be able to support the dog, feel his movement and have access to his entire body for massage, however, for those dogs who don’t need this hands on approach, a floatation device MUST first and foremost be of utmost comfort and not impose on the dog’s full range of motion.
The most common poor design flaw that I see is the flotation device that restricts the forward movement of the shoulder.
The other important characteristic of a good flotation device is one that inspires confidence. In canine water therapy, we often are in need of nurturing confidence and the spirit of a dog who has ‘given up’… the last thing we need is a flotation device that rides up in back (like the ones with only one strap under the body) or that cuts into the belly (like the ones without a protective belly flap), or where the belly flap rides back (like the ones where the belly flaps don’t have proper guides for the 2 straps).
Finally – we need a flotation device that is easy to put on and take off. We are often in the middle of a session and need to be able to put this device on quickly … or perhaps we want to take it off quickly to assess movement or work the muscles in a different way… the plastic quick release buckles are wonderful… as opposed to the flotation devices where one has to place the front feet through little holes… or the ones that zip down the back…. we don’t usually have that kind of time to put one of those contraptions on.
Our needs will be slightly different than the needs of the boat owner looking to secure his pup from drowning – our needs are most importantly to not restrict movement, to be comfortable, to fit well and to be easy to put on and take off.
I’m sure there are many on the market that would work well … but these are the 2 that I have used recently most often…
K-9 Float Coat – Canine Life Jacket
In addition to the flotation features, this PFD has reflective trim for visibility and a practical assistance handle for helping your dog. Rock Lockster® release buckles allow for easy removal — even when the dog is soaked or reluctant to cooperate.
- Durable, high-visibility 1,680-denier ballistic nylon fabric.
- Variable thickness buoyancy cells. Reflective trim for low light visibility.
- Ergonomic cut for fit, safety and mobility
- Rock Lockster® side release buckles
- Concealed D-ring attachment point
- Low profile handle up top for assisting dog
Outward Hound – The Safe and
Secure Life Jacket for dogs
This design allows for fast size adjustments and a flexible comfortable fit. A high performance dog flotation device, providing flotation and ultimate buoyancy.
- Quickly adjusted for a good fit, with quick-release buckles.
- Water repellent neoprene and cordura nylon construction provides warmth and protection from abrasion.
- Fits under the belly to keep it securely in place.
- Convenient top grab handle for easy rescue by hand or boat hook.
Example of what not to use as a Canine Flotation Device!!!