It is that time of year again! When we are surrounded by the sights and sounds of summer and every member of the family is enjoying Living Poolside. Often, the “family” includes our pets. It may sound surprising but, not all dogs are fond of the water. If you are a pool owner with pets, a bit of proper planning will go a long way to ease your mind and keep your pet safe & happy poolside this summer.
1) Give him a gradual introduction into the pool. Holding him snugly, slowly walk into the water. Let him get wet a little at a time and eventually allow him to swim to the exit. Make it a positive experience with lots of encouragement and praise. NEVER toss your pet into the pool.
2) Teach proper swimming technique. Dogs will instinctively paddle when submerged in water. As with any inexperienced swimmer, many dogs try to rely on their front legs and do little with their rear legs. This results in an almost vertical swim technique as well as a great deal of splashing. It’s exhausting and your pet can easily become over-tired this way. Practice will help improve their skill.
3) Dogs do not have good depth perception. Use a large potted plant to mark the pool steps and make sure he associates the plant as the exit marker. No steps? Then you may want to provide a non-slip ramp. Spend sufficient time training him to enter an exit the pool either by steps or using the ramp.
4) Life jackets give your dog the extra ability to stay buoyant. Muscle bound breeds like bully breeds exert more energy due to their weight and can tire more quickly. Breeds with short legs may not swim as proficiently. Be mindful of your breed’s body type and consider the use of a life jacket.
5) Keep safety floatation devices nearby, just in the case. If your dog gets into trouble, a life preserver attached to a long line is the best course of action to take. Dogs panic easily in the water when trouble hits, and a panicked, flailing dog can be difficult to assist. Get the dog to grab out to the preserver first and try to pull him in closer before physically trying to help him out of the water.
6) Training your dog to be obedient poolside is a must. Train them to “Wait” at the pool’s edge or to always use the steps or the ramp. Also teach that the “Come” command is universal and applies to the pool as much as it does to dry land.
7) A dog’s nails can quickly wear down as they excitedly race around the pool’s exterior. Keep a watchful eye on the nails as well as the pads of their feet. Repeated launching from pool steps can wreak havoc on paw pads; especially if your dog spends most of their time on grass.
8) Always keep plenty of fresh water around so your dog can drink without attempting to drink from the pool. You will want to make sure you give your dog many opportunities to relieve himself after a swim as he is likely to ingest water while he is in the pool and may need to urinate more often.
9) Remember that a dog's skin is sensitive to the sun. Sunscreen applied to pink or white exposed skin will help prevent sunburn. Rinse your dog off after a swim. This will help to remove chlorine and other pool chemicals from their coat. Also take care not to let your dog sit in a wet collar as hot spots can develop. Be mindful of areas where water can collect, like ears, groin, and armpits and work to prevent moisture-induced infections by towel drying those areas well.
10) Unless your pool cover is solid and strong enough to support your weight, do not leave it on when your dog is unattended near the pool. If your dog needs to spend time in the yard unsupervised, a pool fence should be in place.
From the point of view of pool maintenance, an average sized dog is equal to three humans so, pets in the pool will require you to be extra vigilant with monitoring and cleaning but should not overly impact your equipment. Discussing this and any questions you have about wear and tear on pool finished with your swimming pool builder in advance to prevent any suprises.
As with all family members, it is a good idea to check with your medical professional before adding new activites to your routine and swimming is no different. Discuss plans for your dog with your vet before allowing him to spend time swimming in your pool. Weight and age should be considered as well as your pet’s activity level and your veterinarian will be able to guide you best.
We wish you and all your family members happy and healthy days enjoying an active lifestyle of Living Poolside!