While it is snowing and freezing here in Chicago, it is gorgeous weather in other parts of the world. Like in Arizona for example, where most of my close relatives live. The weather there is so nice that my niece has spent this past winter winning awards like crazy with her Silver Labrador in pool jumping competitions. So although our pools are drained here is Illinois for the winter season, for the rest of you enjoying the water in warmer climates, here is a guest post with very important information about keeping your dogs safe around water.
7 Safety Tips for Pets at the Pool
My two golden retrievers are a wonderful complement to our family time at the pool. They love the kids, love the water, and are like a couple of more kids when it comes to pool time. They will fetch a tennis ball as long as my husband Ed’s arm holds out to throw the ball in the water. But there are some things to consider when it comes to pets being at the pool. Here are 7 tips I’ve found which improve pool safety for the pets:
1) Introduce them to water gradually.We’ve almost forgotten it now, but when the dogs were young, we had to let them get used to the water. I held one of them against me, and slowly walked into water that was about waist deep. I kept talking positively and encouraging him (“Good boy, you’re doing great”) until he began to move his feet in a paddling motion. Then came the point where I could gently release him, and he swam back to the exit.
2) Watch them while swimming.Although the retrievers were naturals in the water, it took them a while to really figure out the swimming thing. They would both swim a lot with front feet and leave their hind legs dangling, which tired them quickly. I had to make sure to call them out of the water when I saw signs of fatigue. Later, they figured out the back leg part and the issue resolved itself. But I still keep an eye on them in the water.
3) Mark the exit. It turns out dogs have poor depth perception. They couldn’t always spot the steps to get out of the pool. So I put big potted plants on either side of the steps, and when I would call them out, make sure I was standing between the plants. That way they made the association, and now automatically head to the plants to get out.
4) Keep a flotation device handy.Dogs can get tired, and panic easily in the water, just like a small child. A big retriever in trouble could potentially overwhelm someone trying to help them. I read up online and a life preserver with a long line connected to it works really well, so we got one. If one of the dogs got in trouble, I would throw the preserver where the dog could reach it, and reel it in to shore before we tried to help.
5) Not when the pool cover is on.I don’t let the dogs inside the pool fence when the cover is on. I read that if a dog broke through a pool cover, it would disorient them and they might never find their way out. So the rule – they just don’t go to the pool when the cover is on.
6) No pool water. I make sure to keep a big bowl of water next to the pool, and have conditioned the retrievers that the “come” command is for the pool as well as on land. I make sure they have a drink before they go in, but if I see one of them begin to drink from the pool, I command them out, and over to the water bowl. It’s a bit imperfect (like stopping the cat from drinking out of the water bowl), but if I minimize the pool slurping, they don’t ingest a stomach upsetting dose of chemicals.
7) Rinse after the pool.I make the boys (which includes my husband Ed) rinse off under the poolside shower after they get out of the pool. I do the same for the retrievers. They know I will call them over for a rinse with the lawn hose after we’re finished swimming. They love the water so much, it’s become a game, and when they see me pick up the hose with the nozzle on it, they come over and stand next to me. I make sure I give them a good long bath, because of their thick coats. They love it (almost) as much as being in the pool, so they don’t think of it as a safety measure.
I treat my two lovely dogs just like family most of the time, and that includes the pool. I take measures to make sure they are safe and don’t have problems in the water. Because of that, watching my boys swimming with the retrievers next to them paddling away is one of my greatest summer pleasures.
Becky Flaniganis a freelance writer for InTheSwim.com. She has 3 kids with her wonderful husband – two boys and a girl – and two lovely golden retrievers. She spends hours at her family swimming pool, watching the kids and dogs splash and play their pool games. She is also a runner, and diligently training for her first half marathon. Follow her on twitter @becky_flanigan
! Have a Fabulous Day ! – Jenny at Dapperhouse