Most dogs aren't so different from people when it comes to the water. They like to take a dip and cool off, they like to splash and play, and they like to hang out with the family in the pool. When it comes to above-ground pools, however, pools built specially for dogs are safer and more cost-effective than standard pools.
It's Not a Kiddie Pool
Children's pools are built for children, not for a high-energy canine with sharp teeth and nails. These physical traits can wreck a pool when the dog thrashes in play or when he tries to get out by pawing and digging into the sides as he climbs the wall. Dog pools are made from a heavier-weight vinyl than regular pools. They alternatively are made from plastic and even metal, and many are designed with sloping walls to help dogs get out without having to climb.
Know Your Dog
Before you buy a dog pool, know your dog's energy level. She may the type to wade lazily in the pool or the type to splash around in her own spirited version of water polo. Also consider her size and weight. The bigger and more rambunctious she is, the heavier, larger and more balanced the pool will have to be. You don't want it to tip over on her when she plays or tries to get out.
Lightweight and Durable
Kiddie pools may be light when they're empty, but they can be a pain to move or drain because they're so heavy when full. Commercially made dog pools often factor this in, and some come equipped with drains that make them easier to empty. Also, some of the more durable and solid dog pools may save you money over a kiddie pool because you will need to replace parts -- or the whole thing -- less often.
Some breeds, such as Newfoundlands, are built to swim in rough seas, but more stubby-legged breeds, such as dachshunds, can run out of gas if they jump into a pool that's too large for them. Introduce your dog to the water slowly and make sure she is fit enough to enjoy the pool safely. Also, consider training her to swim with a safety flotation device on. Dogs panic when they get in trouble in the water, which can quickly lead to drowning.