You have a sparkling, blue pool in your backyard that your family and friends enjoy on those hot summer days. You take all the precautions to make sure your children are safe from pool dangers with locked gates and constant supervision while swimming, but what about your dog? Not all dogs know how to do the doggie paddle. Is your backyard safe for man’s best friend?

When I first brought Josie home as a 13-week-old puppy, it was March and the winter cover was on the pool. My pool is open to the whole backyard with a fence around my property. The first time venturing outside at her new home, Josie simply walked around the pool, exploring and sniffing. I was always within a foot of being able to reach her. By spring, I figured it was time to open the pool and start the swimming lessons for Josie.

The first splash!

We tend to think that all dogs instinctively know how to swim. Most dogs can do the basic doggie paddle and stay afloat, but that doesn’t make them strong swimmers. Josie is a Golden Retriever, a breed known for its swimming abilities. Every dog is different, though. No matter what your dog’s breed is,  you need to work with your dog to make sure he or she can handle the basics and keep their head above water.

When it came time to formally introduce Josie to water, I got in the pool first. If you’re introducing your dog to water at a lake, make sure you are in shallow water so they can ease themselves in. Don’t push Fido off the end of a dock or platform. This idea will only lead to you getting wet when you need to jump in to save Fido because he is panicking.

Josie loves water; so, her first time in the pool went much easier than if she was a breed that doesn’t really care to be wet. As I stood in the shallow end, she tested out each paw in the water and then launched herself off the second step, which led to instant splashing and a puppy swimming in circles. Be ready for your puppy or dog to try and climb on top of you at this point. Josie’s first few attempts in the water resulted in quite a few scratches on my legs and arms, but soon, she was feeling more comfortable as her brain connected with what her legs needed to do to keep her on top of the water.

Once I knew she was swimming, the single most important thing I did was show her how to get out of the pool using the walkout steps. Your puppy/dog will feel much more comfortable swimming if they know where they are safe…and it will save your vinyl pool cover, as well.


Be Careful by the Pool

At the age of 3, Josie is a very good swimmer. However, I still keep an eye on her whenever we are around water. Just as lakes and rivers can be dangerous with currents and treacherous bottoms, pools can be a dangerous area for your family pet.

Always make sure your dog has an easy way to exit the pool. If you do not have walkout steps, make sure you are nearby to assist your dog in getting in and out of the pool. Thankfully, I have walkout steps, which makes entering and exiting the pool easier not only for humans but for dogs, as well.

The pool deck can also be a slippery surface for your pooch. Just as you tell your children not to run near the pool, be aware if Fido starts doing the same. If you question whether your dog is a good swimmer, please err on the side of caution and have your dog wear a lifejacket. They are available to fit all sizes of dogs.

Above all, make sure your dog is a good swimmer and stays away from others swimming in the pool. A frantic dog can cause injury to a person by pushing them under the water. If your dog truly isn’t comfortable swimming in your pool, be sure not to pressure him or her.

Teaching your dog some of the basics of swimming will give you and your family countless hours of fun in your pool. And at the end of the day, don’t forget to clean out your pool filter.