International Dog Day: Teaching dogs how to dive underwater

SINGAPORE - No pooch ever gets dog-tired inside a water park for canines in Jurong East.

Step inside and you will see that they are on the scent of fun. They dart about, chasing toys and one another, while some paddle leisurely in flotation devices.

Kyra, a two-year-old labrador, retrieving a frisbee that had fallen from its mouth as it was swimming. ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN
One-year-old English cocker spaniel Cupid gripping a frisbee with its paws underwater. ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN
Old English sheepdog Dapper, aged one, catching a frisbee underwater after several attempts as its long fur kept covering its eyes. ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN

For them, everything is just play but, at the same time, they are also lapping up the benefits of low-impact exercise, mental stimulation and being able to keep cool.

These help to stem behavioural problems that arise from having pent-up energy, such as excessive barking or destroying items at home, among other things.

Butter going after its own leash. The three-year-old golden retriever can swim for hours but gets tired on walks after five minutes. ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN
Chocolate labrador Shifu, just 11 months old, enjoying the water. ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN
Three-year-old Mushu chasing a tennis ball during one of its bi-weekly swims at Wag & Wild. ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN

A common misconception is that all dogs can swim. While most paddle instinctively, some breeds have more difficulty staying afloat.

Then there are some that can dip their heads underwater or even dive downwards, either naturally or when encouraged to fetch their favourite toys in the water - proving that you can teach an old dog new tricks.

Two-year-old Teddy looking ferocious as it went after a toy in the water, surprising its owner, who says the toy poodle is cute and harmless on land. ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN
Amber, a golden retriever aged seven, would dive into the water and shake its head. Its owner says it enjoys the sensation of water in its ears. ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN
Duke, a seven-year-old Golden Retriever, is a confident swimmer who could dive beneath the water and hold its breath for several seconds. ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN

Inspired by Seth Casteel's Underwater Dogs, a book of quirky images of dogs caught in the act of diving and generally goofing off in the water, The Straits Times' executive photojournalist Ong Wee Jin has given his own bark of approval.

His series of underwater portraits taken at Singapore's largest dog water park, Wag & Wild, comes four days after International Dog Day on Aug 26.

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