Swimming is a perfect way to cool your dog off in hot weather while providing exercise and fun. However, not every dog takes to water, which is why certain steps must be followed to ensure safety when introducing her to an in-ground pool. With repetition and patience, your pooch will love jumping into the pool with her family.
The Less Aquatic
Understand that some dogs are not natural swimmers. Small dogs and those with short legs can lack the ability to sustain the doggie paddle while others are simply afraid of the water. This is why you should never force your individual dog into the pool, nor splash, yell or laugh at her. Instead encourage her to step into the water with toys, treats and praise to reinforce a positive experience. Of course, some pups jump into the water with gleeful abandon, and yours may eventually do this, but it is certainly not the way to introduce her to swimming.
Dog Meet Water
It is best to begin with your dog leashed and wearing a doggie floatation vest in calm, shallow waters. Large steps, not ladders, should be used with in-ground pools though kiddie pools are another option. You can also visit the beach, a lake or a local creek. The main thing your dog needs to learn is that she can get back out of the water safely, so allow her to do this as many times as she needs. Always supervise your dog in the water, in addition to when she enters and exits.
Once your dog is comfortable getting wet, you can support her under her belly and bring her into the deeper area of the pool. Check that she kicks using her back legs along with her front legs so she will not tire as quickly when doing this on her own. Release her to see how she swims but hold her again if she becomes anxious. Continue this until she gains more confidence. Keep in mind that dogs can panic when they want to get out but are not quite sure how to do so. This is why you need to be there in the water for her and monitor her during pool time.
A dog's ears, eyes and nose are slightly more sensitive than humans to chlorine. If you use chlorine to keep the pool clean, rinse your dog off after she gets out. Alternatively, you can switch to bromine, a non-chlorine chemical. Also make sure that she does not lap up large amounts of pool water by providing clean drinking water nearby. Dampness can cause ear infections, namely in dogs with floppy ears, so it is a good practice to dab your dog's ears with a towel or use a hair drier to thoroughly dry the area.
Pam Smith has been writing since 2005. In addition to her work for Demand Media, her articles have been published online at CBS Local. She also wrote for the Pennsylvania Center for the Book's Literary Map while earning a Bachelor of Arts degree in English at the Pennsylvania State University. She is currently an editorial assistant for Circulation Research.