It was a hot September day. I had just picked up my new rescue dog, Khloee, from the boarding facility she was abandoned at. (You can read more of that story here). I was so incredibly excited about this new ball of fluff in my life, that I just had to go show my mom! After all, Wynston had been my only dog for 2.5 years. My little Khloee was a mere 7lbs when I brought her to my mom’s for the first time at three months old. Boy was Khloee rambuncious. She was full of energy and personality. But then there was that moment. We walked into the backyard where my newly rescued fluff ball quickly discovered the pool. She also noticed the yellow ducky chlorine holder that was floating around…and then it happened.
I was standing right next to Khloee when she laid eyes on that duck. In a split second, she made the biggest leap possible right into the pool. To this day I thank God that I was standing right there. Without hesitation, I jumped in and rescued Khloee. Had I not been there, she would have drowned. Unfortunately Khloee is traumatized and refuses to have anything to do with bodies of water but I learned a huge lesson that day – dog pool safety is something I needed to get better acquainted with.
Luckily Khloee’s pool adventure didn’t last more than 10 seconds. I jumped in after her (in my clothes) so quickly that it was like a blink of an eye. So let’s talk about how you can keep your dogs safe around pools and other bodies of water, because you may not always be there to jump in after them.
Pool Safety Tips for Dogs
Teach your dog to swim: You may think that dogs inherently know how to swim, and some do, but some don’t. I taught Wynston how to swim by first getting into the pool. I had him stand on the first step so he could grasp the water concept. At one point I carried him into the shallow end of the pool with me and I faced him toward the stairs. We were only about two feet away from the stairs – it’s good to take it slow, especially with small dogs. I let him go and he swam right to the stairs and jumped out. Lots of praise and treats! There was much practice and we didn’t rush the process. We wanted to ensure Wynston had a good idea of what the pool was all about. You can also enlist the help of a professional dog trainer to teach your dog how to swim.
Teach your dog how to get out of the pool: By facing Wynston toward the stairs, it was easy for him to swim straight to them. Lots of repetition and having him swim from different angles (with lots of positive reinforcement) taught him where the stairs were. Many dogs drown not because they can’t swim but because they can’t get out of the pool. If you have a different method of entering your pool than stairs, be sure to teach your dog how to use it.
Invest in a life jacket: If your dog doesn’t know how to swim, a dog life jacket is a great way to assist in the learning process. It’s a really great tool for water safety in general. I’d recommend that you get a life jacket for your dog if you go boating, swimming in the ocean or partake in any other recreational activities around a large body of water. I bought Wynston this super cute Top Paw dog life jacket (shown below) and he looks like a mini shark!
Fence your pool: If your dogs are going to be outside unsupervised a lot, fence your pool or put up some protective barrier. If the dogs can’t get to the pool, they are safe from harm. Every pool is different but you may think about getting a secure, sturdy cover for yours. It may not be as effective as a fence depending on the material and cover type, but still a deterrent nonetheless.
Learn dog CPR: I’m certified in animal CPR and I’m so thankful that I know what to do in case my dog or someone else’s had been under water for too long due to an accidental drowning. You can look for local animal CPR certification programs in your area. Some shelters or rescues may even offer classes that you can attend.
Every dog is different: We should be especially careful with senior dogs around the pool. Vision or hearing loss can be detrimental to their survival if for some reason they find themselves in a panicked situation. Take note of your dog’s health concerns and consult your veterinarian if you’re not sure whether it’s safe for your dog to swim.
A dog drowning can happen in an instant from the most accidental situation. Your dog could slip into the pool when running or playing. Like the very first photo in the post, a toy could fall into the pool and your dog attempts to retrieve it. Or they could be like Khloee – “OH duckie! I must jump in to get it!” Anything can happen.
This summer, please keep your dogs safe around water. Consult your veterinarian and/or a professional dog trainer if you have specific questions or concerns about your dog’s safety and health.
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