Thought I'd ask you guys about dog floatation. I wonder how many of you use a PFD-type device for your retrievers and/or at what age did you start using them.
I've an 8 yr old Yellow Lab. We took him to the cabin lake property this weekend where he did a lot of swimming. My girlfriend was freaking out that the dog was going to drown.
In one case, he swam out after my son and 3 of his friends (who were in kayaks) about 50 yrds to the floating dock in the middle of lake. Then tried to get on the dock and failed. Then tried to swim circles round the dock and kids. By then we were on shore calling him back. Towards the end of the swim, he looked to be doing a side stroke-head canted 45 degrees, body canted somewhat less.
In the second case, he kept swimming out after me in my kayak. Tried to get int he kayak, but I pushed him off a few times. He wouldn't go back to shore where my girlfriend was calling him in. He started looking and sounding pretty tired, so I hauled him into the kayak, which promptly flipped. He swam back to shore with me without any problem. Thus ended our swimming for the weekend.
I happened to have a Mack's Prairie Wings catalog at the cabin, and they sell neoprene vests with sewn in floatation. I've decided to buy one, if no other reason than to give a sense of security.
I guess my question is do these things work? Do you use them with younger dogs, or am I seeing this need due to my dog's age? From what I've heard at some of the training events this past winter/spring, some folks send their dogs on 100 yrd plus retrieves. Is that just something I shouldn't let my senior aged dog do? Lastly, is there any specific vest some of you have had good use from, or are their features I should look for? (For example: I see a lot of product descriptions that a vest "adds buoyancy" but doesn't list how many lbs of buoyancy like a USCG approved pfd for boaters.
I plan to order in the next day or two or three and have it fed-exed up. We're going to Tangle Lakes in 2 weeks and the we'll want it by then. (Even though I plan to ptarmigan hunt that week; he'll probably still end up in the water I'm sure.)