By Ian McConachie
Any pet owner will tell you that their animals are a part of their family and welcome guests at any summer pool party or barbecue. In the midst of all that family fun, safety should still be a top priority.
Safe swimming for dogs
Pools can be great for dogs who love to go for a swim, especially on a hot summer day. There are a few advantages of dogs going for a dip with their owners in the backyard pool—it helps to keep them cool and is a great source of exercise—but there are many safety considerations dog owners should keep in mind.
Many breeds are naturals in the water and quite adept at swimming. However, even the strongest swimmers should fall under the same rules as children. Never leave your dog unsupervised in a pool or any other body of water (e.g. lake, pond or river). For this reason, it is important to fence off your pool from your pet so they can not get there without human supervision.
Furthermore, not all breeds are good swimmers. In fact, some dogs, such as the pug or bulldog, are not naturally keen on water and are not natural swimmers, due mostly to their weight distribution and mass. These dogs should avoid all water that is deeper than their chest height.
It is important to be especially diligent in watching puppies and older dogs around the pool. Puppies may take naturally to water if it is part of their breed, but they still need to be closely monitored for signs of fatigue or distress. Older dogs have less energy; if they have medical conditions, they can lose their balance and risk falling into the pool.
Teaching your pet pool safety
If you have a pool, have recently gotten a new puppy and intend to let the puppy swim in the pool, it is a great idea to teach the dog some basic pool safety. You will need to ensure there is a way for the dog to easily get out of the pool and teach them how to use it. If your pool has built-in stairs the dog can use, that’s great. If you don’t have any easy access built in, you may want to purchase a ramp they can use to easily get out of the pool on their own.
You should never throw a dog into a pool. Even if the dog has been in the pool before and is adept at swimming, it could very likely be traumatic for the animal and could lead to panic while in the water. Also never submerge your animal or play roughly with it in the pool, as this behaviour could also lead to panic and fear.