Taking your dog swimming is such a wonderful thing to do. Not only is it fun, it’s great exercise for dogs of all ages and very beneficial for old dogs with joint issues. The question is, are all pools okay for dogs to swim in, or can a dog do some damage?
There’s no problem with a dog swimming in a vinyl lined pool, but it can become an issue with them potentially shredding it when they try and claw their way out. If you already have a vinyl lined pool, the best way to protect it is to teach your dog the right way to get out of a pool.
Can dogs ruin pool liners?
Yes they can, and the number one way to protect a pool liner from your dog is to teach him how to get out of the pool. If they don’t know how, they’ll end up swimming to the side and trying to claw their way out.
Wait, that’s not the only reason to teach your dog how to get out of the pool. Did you know dogs can drown?
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Who knew not all dogs can swim!
I think it’s safe to assume most of us believe all dogs know how to swim, that’s certainly what I’ve always thought. Well, according to Healthy Pets Mercola, that is not the case.
While most dogs will instinctively do some version of what we call the doggy paddle when in the water, that does not mean they know how to swim. In fact, it doesn’t even mean the paddling is enough to keep them afloat. There are also plenty of dogs that find themselves in the middle of a pool, but have no idea how to get to the steps.
How to teach your dog to get safely out of the pool
For your training session you’re going to need your dog to be wearing his collar, and have a fairly long leash as well. I don’t know how long your pool is but start with 20’ and see how that works. You’re going to be holding onto the leash to gently guide your dog around the pool and to the steps.
Your dog may jump right in or will need a bit of coaxing.
◊ Get in the pool first, face your dog, hold onto the leash and gently encourage him to get in using the steps. In an animated voice say something like “come on” and give him a treat, even if he’s just standing on the side of the pool. With some encouragement and treats, you should get him in the pool. Don’t rush this and scare him. If it takes a few tries that’s fine.
◊ Once he’s in, use the leash to guide him in a very small circle back to the steps so he can get out. Then give him lots of praise and a small treat.
◊ Repeat this, but now go in a circle twice before leading him back to the steps to get out. Lead him with a treat in your hand if that will help.
◊ As you progress in the training, slowly increase the size of the circle before heading back to the steps. This will help him learn that no matter where he is in the pool, he should swim back to the steps.
◊ Keep up the training until your dog finds the steps without being guided to them.
◊ Until now you’ve been teaching your dog to get in and out using the same steps. Now you want to teach him to get out of the pool using the steps, no matter where he entered it from.
◊ Loosely holding the leash, walk your dog along the outside of the pool and see if you can get him to jump into the pool from the side, not the steps. By this point in the training your dog should head straight for the steps to get out.
◊ If he tries to get out from the side he jumped in from, use the leash to gently guide him to the steps.
◊ Repeat from different locations around the pool, and practice until he uses the steps without any encouragement
NOTE: Pay attention to your dog’s reaction, and keep training sessions short. He doesn’t need to learn everything at once.
Dog ramps and steps for the pool
If you’re looking for other ways to help your dog get out of the pool safely, here are some options.
How about building your own dog ramp. This video will show you how.
Is swimming good for dogs?
Just like humans benefit from a paddle in the pool, so do our dogs.
- Low impact total body workout
- Beneficial for cardio vascular health
- Burns off excess energy
- Great for old dogs who don’t get many walks due to arthritis and other joint issues
- Helps your dog cool off in the heat
- Another way to relieve boredom
- Fun for the whole family
NOTE: As great as swimming is, it’s not a substitute for taking your dog for a walk or hike
NOTE: If your dog seems petrified of the water no matter how much gentle coaxing you do, or how long you’ve been trying, just leave him be. Not all dogs will like the water and there’s no reason he has to go swimming. For safety, be sure to enclose your pool or don’t leave him unattended around it. If he does fall in and can’t swim, it could be a very sad ending for everyone.
NOTE: Putting a safety cone where the steps are could help your dog find them should he get into trouble in the water.
NOTE: The pool may be too big and scary for him, but he may be comfortable cooling off in a kiddie pool.
If your dog doesn’t know how to swim you’ll find this video very helpful
Is too much swimming bad for dogs?
Yes it can be.
While some dogs will be happy with a quick dip and they’re done, others who may have some degree of OCD (I remember a four legged neighbour who could play with his ball for hours!) can swim and play fetch until they’re exhausted.
Stick to 10 minutes at a time and see how your dog is. As many benefits as there are to swimming, overdoing it can be a problem. If your dog isn’t getting out on his own, you may need to intervene. See what happens when you take the toys away. How about enticing him with a small treat that he loves and a drink of water. If that fails you may have to gently coax him out of the pool with a leash.
If your dog has health issues, even ones that can benefit from swimming, please speak to your vet and get his or her recommendation for length of time and frequency.
Water safety tips for dogs
For more water safety and training tips, this article will be of interest – “Can All Dogs Swim? Safety and Training Tips for Dog Swimming.”
I’m a dog trainer specializing in helping shy, fearful and aggressive dogs.
Does your dog go after other dogs and people while on a walk? Is he or she petrified of fireworks and thunderstorms? Does he growl or even nip when someone goes near his food bowl or treats? Is he scared of the vet? Men? Children? Visitors to your home?
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