You would think that naming a swim after the canines (ever heard of the doggie paddle?) Would mean that all dogs are excellent swimmers. On the contrary! Swimming is a learned skill – a breed that is never fully mastered. When the summer begins and the pools open, many dogs need to be taught a few things before you let them into the garden. Even puppies in areas where swimming pools are open all year round can use a refresher course. Your dog’s safety is at stake, so don’t stop this training.
Try to teach your dog what a pool is.
For people, swimming pools are of course large water basins made for entertainment. We swim for fun or practice or cool down. Swimming pools are also safe to be in, as long as you know how to swim. Stepping into the water does not hurt. You also cannot breathe under water. Again, facts that we all know are true. For dogs, however, these facts are not always intuitive. Tie them in so that they can observe you safely while enjoying the swimming pool.
And show teach them what a pool is not.
A swimming pool is not a scary void to bark. It doesn’t swallow you very much. A swimming pool is also not a huge water tank for drinking. The experts at the Banfield Pet Hospital do not notice any serious health problems while slurping chlorinated water. It is not good to have your dog form a swimming pool drinking habit. At the very least your puppy is likely to have a dry mouth or stomach irritation, which can lead to diarrhea. Be strict when they drink the water and treat them instead when they drink from their actual water bowl (not the huge chlorinated ones in the middle of the backyard).
Teach your dog to get into a pool.
Some dogs love water (look at you, Labrador retrievers) and will jump right into it. Others are afraid of it, perhaps because they don’t like what it looks like or because it feels uncomfortable to be immersed in water. Anyway, dogs need to know how to get out of a pool when they fall into it, so it’s smart to show them how they can get into it. Familiarity with the whole concept increases the level of safety when it comes to swimming pools.
According to PetMD, it is best to start slowly (and ideal to start if the dog is still a puppy). Stand in the shallow end with a line that connects you to your dog. Lure her in the water with a treat. Even if she only puts one foot or two inside, that is a success and must be rewarded. Slowly and steadily this race wins, people, especially with dogs who are very nervous about swimming. If the pool is too big a problem, drag an empty children’s pool to the back garden and throw in a treat to get them back easily. Next time add a few centimeters of water before you throw in the treat. Work your way up in time to a full children’s pool and reward her every time she makes the decision and steps into the children’s pool. After she has conquered that little water, a larger one will seem less daunting. This can take a few weeks, so be patient.
If you live near a lake or the ocean, this process might work better on a beach. Gradually entering the water can be less scary than taking big steps or giant splashes in a puddle.
Never push or force your dog into a swimming pool. This is not only common, but it can also be a negative association with water, that is-hello !, Stollen, the exact opposite of what you are trying to achieve.
And how to get out of a pool.
Even if your dog decides for himself, he does not like swimming and does not get into a pool, it is important that he knows how to get out when he slips and falls. This is relatively easy if your dog likes to swim. Simply plop him in the pool and take him to the steps with treats or commands (followed by … treats). Practice from different places in the pool. Being in water can be disorienting and dogs need to know how to navigate to the steps of the shallow and deep ends.
If your dog prefers dry water to flush water, you should wear it in the pool and help him swim up the stairs. Fortunately he will be pumped up to get out of the water, he will probably be pretty happy with this aspect of training. Again, keep the treats and rewards (toys, abs, etc.) on! The goal is to associate pools with positivity.