Any pet can learn to swim, and most are naturally curious about pools or bodies of water. Even cats can be taught to swim in a similar way to how canines are trained for water, using lots of encouragement and rewards. Other animals, like ferrets and birds, can also be trained to take a dip, though some pets will require more supervision and assistance than others. Whether you want to teach an old dog a new trick or if you are trying to expose a new puppy to the joy of your pool, there are some tips that owners should heed.
Some do’s and don’ts of swimming with pets include:
Never Leave them Alone
It is never okay to leave your pets alone when swimming. Always supervise your pet in the water. Just as you would never permit a child near a pool or body of water without a parent or caretaker nearby, you should never leave your pet to swim alone. Even if you believe your pet is a strong swimmer, do not allow them to swim without you nearby. Also, play it safe and provide life jackets for your pet to use. A vet-recommended life vest can prevent fatigue when your pet is in the water, preventing any unfortunate incidents or accidents.
Watch the Drains
If your pet is near a swimming pool or spa, use common sense and safety near the drains. These drains can have incredible suction and power – often causing drowning or injuries. Young children and pets are most at risk, though drains present a significant risk of danger to anyone in the water. Talk to your pool service representative about preventative measures and products that can make the drain less of a hazard, and create a safer swimming environment, overall. Need some professional help? Call us to learn more.
Begin with the Basics
Don’t expect too much at first; begin teaching your pet to swim with basics, like getting them accustomed to being wet. If you introduce them to water early in life, they may be braver and less reluctant to get in and give it a go. Start with a bathtub, playing and splashing to garner some exposure to the activity. Zero-entry pools are ideal for teaching youngsters and dogs to swim, as you can enter the water at a gradual, comfortable pace. Familiarize your pet with all the joys of swimming and, over time, they may pick up swimming on their own without any extra training.
Just like people should not swim on a full stomach, do not let your pet paddle too much right after they eat. If you know you are going to be swimming, wait and eat later to avoid stomach issues or digestive distress.
Make it Fun
Pets like to have fun, too. Bring a ball or noodle to the pool and play! This is a great way to bond as well as provide a workout for your pet – and you. Splash around, squeak a toy, or toss a frisbee. The more you engage with your pet, the longer they will want to play and swim, so make the most of it!
Skip the Sea
When you think of teaching a pet to swim, be careful of salt water. The ocean tends to be much colder than pools at the same time of year, and many breeds of dogs are simply not equipped for these extreme temperatures when swimming. Also, dogs often drink water when swimming. Salt water can be dangerous for your pet, even deadly. If your pet is visiting the beach or taking a dip in the sea, supervise them to limit their ingestion of salt water. Also, give the pet breaks every 15 minutes and offer fresh water to them to prevent saltwater consumption. Remember that the currents of the ocean can be stronger than you may think. Be wary of how deep you allow your pet to wander and swim. The water’s current could be very forceful and pull your pet under in the blink of an eye, which is why it is so critical to always supervise your pet when they are swimming in any type of water.
Wash Up Well
Pools typically contain chlorine and bromine, so make sure to rinse and clean your pet after they have been in your pool. Also, make sure to remove any moisture or water from their ears to prevent ear infections and irritations. Dogs are also susceptible to swimmers’ ear, which can be painful. Be careful using swabs in dog’s ears, though; use a cotton ball instead. Talk to your vet at the next exam for tips on cleaning your pets’ ears and ask for a proper demonstration.
Take it Slow
Remember to take things slow and do not push your pet too much or too harshly. Be patient; if you aren’t enjoying the experience, take a break. After all, swimming is something that you and your pet can do throughout life. Don’t push too much and turn them off from water, swimming, and the pool altogether. Work slowly and only proceed to the next steps when your pet is confident and ready.
Assumptions Can Be Wrong
Never assume that your dog will be a great swimmer just because of their breed. An animal’s breed doesn’t necessarily dictate whether your pet will be a good swimmer or not or that they will enjoy the water. Pets are distinctive, like people. Give all breeds plenty of time and gentle reinforcement to acclimate to your pool.
Keep Things Calm
Try to maintain a calm and relaxing atmosphere when pets are in the pool. Too much rowdiness can make them anxious and antsy. This also models appropriate behavior for your pet, teaching them that the pool is not the proper place for running, barking, or acting out. This all contributes to making the pool a safer place for the entire family.
Find A Way Out
When you are training and acclimating your pet to the pool, make sure that you show and guide them to the way out of the pool area, too. If pets do not know how to get out of the water, they will continue to tread and swim until they sink from exhaustion! Also, they could panic and become frenzied in the process of trying to find a means to exit the situation.
Show them how to get in and out of the water and watch their behavior to ensure they are not trying to find their way out or becoming panicked. These situations could create chaos and, possibly, an accident or injury. At the very least, these types of incidents do nothing to help foster a love of swimming in your pet.
Make sure that your pool environment is a safe one for your pets and family. Check out these frequently asked questions to learn more.
Got pets? Use these tips to keep them safe in and around your swimming pool. For pool services, maintenance, or other questions, call on Pool Troopers to help. Pool Troopers is a full-service pool maintenance company serving residential pool owners since 1952. Call or contact us to schedule professional chemical service and pool cleaning regularly.