There is nothing more fun than having a dip on a hot day with your best friend. That includes the furry ones! While not all dogs are ready and raring to jump into the water on a summer day, that doesn’t mean all hope is lost. Together we will explore the options and safety measures that can make this next summer one to remember with your pet. Please keep in mind, while many of these tips and tricks apply to swimming in general, remember to always ensure that the water your pet is swimming in is safe when venturing outside of the pool and into a lake or ocean.
Food motivated pups have a cheat code: treats. This isn’t news to any dog owners but when introducing your pet to a new environment including pools, it can be a great reminder. Even a soggy treat is a treat. Rewarding your dog for safe reactions during the pool training process will ultimately make the process much easier. Creating the known energy of learning a new trick can help with the familiarity and confidence your dog will enter this new training with. Consider introducing a leash early on if you plan on using one when you begin to fully enter the water. Remember that practice makes perfect in these situations.
INCREASING WATER SUBMERSION
We all know the struggle of bathing a dog who hates water. It’s important to create trust around water. A gradual approach can work well for many pets. This can be handled in many ways when beginning to build that trust; be it having fun with a sprinkler and hose, or simply getting your pup to stand (and sit) in a puddle. Eventually, during this process, you will want to increase the amount of submersion with your dog in a calming and fun way. While in the bath or even a small pool, increase water levels until your pup is comfy with the highest level you can achieve before entering the deeper waters of the pool. This can be achieved through using treats (peanut butter is a treat), toys, and a good attitude! With luck, you will have a new water loving friend, ready to start paddling away with you.
Of course, signing up for lessons is a sure fire way to get your doggy paddling. That being said, creating that calm environment around water first can make the lessons progress much smoother and keep your pup excited about the next jump into the water. It doesn’t hurt to check in with the instructors and see if you can stay and learn the best way to interact with your dog in the pool as well. More than likely the trainers will be able to give some insight into the mood and level your dog is ready to take on with the water which is some invaluable information when learning a new thing!
The average offerings with most local options include:
- Group or individual lessons
- Supervised pool time up to 30 minutes a day
- General etiquette training sometimes included
Check out your local doggy daycare or dog training facility for more info.
While certainly a fashion statement, life jackets are a great way to keep your dog safe while out in the water. This is recommended for the beginning pups, or for any pets that just seem more confident with the vest on, as well as always recommended when swimming in deep or open waters. Bonus points for choosing a life vest with reflective trim for any night excursions into any water. It is always important to supervise your pet. The truth of the matter is that not all dogs are natural swimmers, and a life jacket is the best way to get your less than water inclined friend paddling with you. It is occasionally the permanent uniform for a dog dip, so no worries about progressing past this point! There is no need!
Don’t be afraid of jumping in with your pet as the training doesn’t end once they hit the water. It’s supposed to be fun! Consider taking a couple toys and treats out to encourage a fun environment that will get your pup excited to spend more time with you in the pool.
Giving your dog a safe and comfortable form of entering the water will prevent unwanted cannonballs. Solidifying the idea of taking the stairs to your dog is another safety measure that shouldn’t be dismissed. As cute as a dog jumping into the water is, it can be a safety hazard. Pools with steps or installing steps is one of the best ways to keep a pool safe for dogs. It is top priority to ensure your pet is able to enter and exit the pool easily, and ladders aren’t made for quadrupeds. Cement blocks may be a slightly more affordable option with traction, but make sure to consult an expert before doing so. There are some floating stairs available for certain pool ledges, but exercise caution when ensuring a stable entry for your pet. It is important to keep in mind that a shallow, gradual entry is easiest for your dog to handle on it’s own.
A great and cheaper alternative to installing stairs into your existing pools, is a ramp. When selecting a pool ramp for your dog; keep in mind stability, size, and ease of setup. A ramp like the PetStep pool ramp kit is a fantastic option especially for dogs that are older or simply cannot easily use a potential set of stairs and the ramp will create traction, with the help of rubberized treads, even when it’s wet! This can include elderly dogs (it’s easier on the joints) that are looking for some low impact exercise in the water or a shorter dog that dunks under the water before they make it past the first step.
The PetStep pool kit offers easy assembly for any pool. Simply attach the legs with included hardware and the ramp goes from dry to wet land in moments. With easy assembly, storage, the ability to set the ramp on any pool ledge, and a weight limit of 500 lbs; your Pet will be a pool pro in no time. While getting your pet used to using a ramp for pool entry, consider using a leash and treats, as suggested above, to foster the confidence of your dog on the new platform. The new platform can be used for safe entry into cars, furniture, beds and much more when the pool closes!