Swimming and hydrotherapy are great for the physical health and mental wellbeing of dogs as well as being a gentle, enjoyable, and beneficial way to help treat illnesses, aid recovery, and encourage exercise.
Whether your pet is a puppy or a senior dog, taking the proper measures to introduce them to the swimming pool gradually and in a safe and positive way is crucial. Here we take you through some of the key steps to introducing your dog to a swimming pool.
Start off small
For small or nervous dogs or those that haven’t been around water a lot, a small paddling pool is a great way to begin.
The swimming pool
There are a number of different environments in which dogs can access a swimming pool but human pools are not built with your canine friend in mind and so will not have the same features in place. A dog swimming pool, however, is uniquely designed with non-slip entry points that will make it much easier and safer for them to access and exit the pool as well as being better for canine hydrotherapy and exercise.
Approaching the pool
Using a calm, confident tone, leash your dog and encourage them to go over to the pool area. Do not try to drag them or force them and if they balk then simply let them go and try again another time.
Entering the water
Slowly and gently, lead your pet into the shallow end of the water at a height where they can comfortably stand with their head above the surface. At this point, the aim isn’t to swim but to get them comfortable with being in the water. Show them how to enter and exit the pool multiple times so that they can learn to do it safely and grow in confidence.
Lose the lead
Once your dog is more confident in the water and the lead is slack when they are getting in, you will be able to slowly eliminate its use until your dog doesn’t need it at all.
Some dogs may love the pool and that is enough to get them in there, but some may need persuading. This is where toys and treats can be used to praise the dog’s behavior and entry into the water so that they come to associate being in the pool with a positive experience.
Once your dog is comfortable in the pool, slowly move them into deeper water so that they must paddle to stay afloat. Place your hand or arm under their ribcage or stomach to gently support them, this will help to provide the extra assistance they need whilst you encourage them to move their front and back legs so that they gradually learn to paddle.
For certain breeds of dogs and reluctant swimmers, dog life vests and life jackets can be a great addition to swimming time, helping to add buoyancy and create an additional safety layer whilst they improve their water skills.
Keep it fun
Whether you are using a swimming pool for your dog to help them lose weight, aid recovery, provide pain-free exercise, or simply help them learn to swim, make sure to always keep it light and fun so that your pet enjoys their time in the water and is excited to do it again.