Teaching dogs to swim, or at least teaching swim safety, is a must in the Lowcountry. Even if your dogs are not swimmers, teaching them to overcome fear of the water, pool safety, toy retrieving or just playing in the water is part of living in coastal South Carolina.

Starting in June and every Friday until mid-August, weather and tide permitting, dogs weighing more than 35 pounds descend on local beaches, pools, rivers, creeks and the like for Get Wet with Your Pet, a get-together that includes dog swimming lessons.

There’s an exception on size for puppies and dogs who will be larger when fully grown and would like to learn to swim, or small breeds who live in homes with pools.

Dogs can learn how to get out of a pool without panicking, a very important skill in this environment where dogs drown each year by accidentally falling in and not knowing how to find the steps.

We can even teach certain types of dogs how to rescue people who are drowning by pulling them ashore, or how to take a life preserver in their mouths and pull in a drowning victim.

Some dogs will even learn to take a rope and pull a boat to safety.

Retrieval of a paddle, dock diving, underwater retrieval – all these skills can be learned with relish by all kinds of dogs.

These are not all Newfies, Labs, Goldens and Doodles as you might think, but plenty of mixed breeds also. Some are too small to pull a boat but will still retrieve toys and romp with their buddies.

We are so blessed to be surrounded by water, and summer offers us a great excuse to get in the water with our dogs.

Sessions are always held after 4 p.m. and as late as 7 p.m. on Fridays in different locations in Hilton Head, Bluffton, and Okatie.

The get-togethers are fun and free.

For more information on equipment needed, times and locations, and to get on the weekly mailing list to join the group, contact me at ajbird@hargray.com.

To find out the time and location each week you must email as they are NOT published. This will also be helpful with changes due to weather or location.

The first session will be held at 4:30 p.m. June 8; email for location.

This is a great way to have summer fun in the water with your pooch. There is no requirement to be there each week, just come when you like. On weeks when passes are needed, sign-up is required and might be limited.

We hope to see you and your four-legged pal at Get Wet with Your Pet in the Lowcountry.

Abby Bird is owner of Alpha Dog Obedience Training. ajbird@hargray.com