Properly introducing your dog to the family pool

Good Morning CT at Nine

Swimming is a great way to keep cool and keep active, even for your pet. Richard and Vicki Horowitz from Bark Buster break down some tips for keeping your pooch safe by the water. 

Dogs not only need to drink plenty of water to keep cool, many of them like to swim in it as well. While it is a great form of exercise and will help to keep Fido from overheating, many dogs drown each year from pool accidents that could have been avoided.

Q: Do dogs know how to get out of the water?

Bark Busters: If your dog loves the water and loves to jump into the pool, make sure he knows how to get out safely. If a dog falls into a river or lake, its instinct will tell it to turn around and try to get out from the point at which it fell in. This may work well in a lake or a river, but in a suburban swimming pool the dog may drown if it adopts this instinctive action. Therefore it is important to teach your dog where and how to get out of the pool regardless of where he went in.

Q: How should someone teach their dog pool safety?

Bark Busters: To teach a dog how to exit a pool, first attach a recall leash to its collar. Gently place the dog into the pool from the steps or shallow end. The dog will instinctively turn around and get out from the point of entry. Place the dog in the pool several times. Once it realizes that it can scramble out, move to the other sides of the pool and again gently place the dog into the pool. Use the recall leash to guide the dog to the steps or shallow area, giving as little help as possible to the dog. Practice as much as possible with your dog, especially with pups. Make certain your dog does not become exhausted. The most you will be able to achieve at any one time is three or four entries and exits.

Q: Regarding exhaustion, will a dog know when enough is enough?

Bark Busters: It is also important for you to keep an eye on your dog while in the pool because swimming can be very tiring for a dog. Just like many dogs will chase a ball or Frisbee again and again until they nearly collapse, many dogs will continue swimming without any thought as to how tired they are. And unlike chasing a ball on land, they have no solid ground on which to rest.

Q: What if your dog likes the water and you don’t have access to a pool?

Bark Busters: If you don’t have access to a pool that allows dogs but still want to take him swimming, nature offers other enjoyable options. However, be aware any restrictions if you take your dog to the beach, lake or pond. Once in the water, make sure your dog will come to you as soon as you call. Recall is one of the most important lessons you can teach your dog. It can literally save his life. It’s also not a bad idea to rinse your dog off with fresh water, after swimming.

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