Editor’s note: Have you seen the new Dogster print magazine in stores? Or in the waiting room of your vet’s office? This article appeared in our June/July issue. Subscribe to Dogster and get the bi-monthly magazine delivered to your home.
My water-loving dog, Chipper, sprints along shores at dog-welcoming beaches and rides waves aboard surfboards. But even if I won the lottery and could afford to install a backyard pool, it would be off-limits to Chipper … for good reason.
Husky-Golden Retriever mix Chipper has yet to meet a pool she hasn’t christened. Within 30 seconds of entering a pool, she breaks out into a wide grin, squats, and urinates. She times her pee performances for when people are nearby, who point at her and proclaim, “Oh my!” as they quickly usher their pups out of the pool before Chipper’s yellow river reaches them.
Chipper peed in the reflection pool during a dog yappy hour at Hotel Indigo in San Diego. Chipper is a female and has a knack for relieving herself in bodies of water, including pools and oceans. Sigh. I caught this memorable moment on video, which I posted on my Arden Moore YouTube channel:
And, while doing the doggie paddle in a pool, lake, or river, Chipper has been known to launch a poop torpedo. Again, before a startled audience. Thanks, Chipper.
Needless to say, Chipper doesn’t receive pool party invites anymore. I’m betting some of you reading this also have dogs who lack proper pool etiquette. Don’t worry. You don’t have to declare. It will be our little secret.
And speaking of secrets, we know that pee in the pool can also be ‘donated’ by toddlers and even drunk friends on a quest to find the mirage in your pool: a swim-up bar. The source really doesn’t matter.
What does matter is that modern-day pool-cleaning chemicals and filters are designed to dissipate urine from two- or four-leggers. Pools exclusively for dogs often use bromine instead of chlorine because the chemical acts as a sanitizer but is less harsh on a dog’s skin.
If you invite dogs into your pool, you may still have to contend with these pool nasties:
- Foamy doggie drool that swirls on the surface
- Discarded hair that can clog filters
- Muddy paws that turn the crystal blue water a murky brown
- Brown floaties that merit immediate removal via long-handled pool nets
Right about now, I bet you are wondering why some dogs make potty statements in pools. One reason: They want to leave a scent to alert other dogs of their presence. Dogs communicate a lot via their heightened sense of smell. And there’s another reason: Some dogs, like people, just can’t dam up their bladders when they come into contact with warm water.
You must decide if you are willing to step up your pool-cleaning regimen or direct your dogs to their own pool, perhaps a plastic kiddie pool. It’s your call.
Dog Pool Rules
Now that we’ve gotten pool potty out of the way, it’s time to talk about how to keep your dog safe in a pool. Heed my tips:
1. Teach your dog how to safely enter and exit your pool
Start with water play in the shallow end, and teach him that this is his “safety spot” to allow him to get out of the pool. Better yet, invest in floatable dog gie ramps or stairs. (Dogs can drown from not being able to figure out how to get out of the pool.)
2. Be your dog’s lifeguard on duty
Never let your dog in a pool without your supervision, and get a doggie-proof gate for your pool to block his access when you’re not around.
3. Size up your dog
Not every dog is a four- legged Michael Phelps capable of swimming — or swimming well. Examples of breeds that can face challenges in learning the dog paddle include canines with short legs and long backs (Corgis and Dachshunds), barrel-chested dogs (Bulldogs), and dogs with short snouts (Pugs).
4. Fit your dog with a canine life vest that helps him stay afloat
For novice canine swimmers, always support their mid-sections and hindquarters in the water until they get the hang of paddling.
5. Protect your pooch from the sun’s rays
Before swim time, dab the right sunscreen on the right places. The sunscreen needs to be waterproof, quick drying, and non-greasy. Select veterinarian-approved sunscreens, and apply on the abdomen, legs, and tips of the nose and ears. Never use sunscreens made for people on your pet because they may contain ingredients unsafe for dogs or the occasional cool swimming cat.
6. End the water activity before your dog becomes overtired
Some dogs are such pleasers or so motivated by fetching balls that they won’t stop and face an increased risk for drowning.
7. Take a pet first-aid class
Learn how to perform doggie CPR and rescue breathing, and what to do if your dog is drowning. This is your chance to truly be your dog’s best health ally.
Swim and win
“Swimming is a great form of exercise for dogs, especially when it is blazing hot outside and the pavement is too hot on their paws,” says Natalie Lindberg, a registered veterinarian technician and owner of The Total Dog, a canine swim and fitness center in Oceanside, California. “Dogs can exercise in water without overheating.”
Swimming yields many healthy benefits for your dog. In fact, the health benefits are immense for dogs coping with arthritis, post-surgical recovery, limb problems, extra pounds, or simply extra energy.
And there’s a final benefit: If you have a hyper dog who needs a lot more exercise than you do, wading and swimming are ideal options. With the right safety measures, your dog who needs to burn off those additional calories can benefit from exercising in water.
Hmm, maybe I need to rethink getting Chipper a pool. I better buy that lottery ticket.
Read more about dogs and swimming on Dogster:
- Swimming Lessons: 11 Tips for Teaching Your Pup the Dog Paddle
- Does Your Dog Love to Swim, or Does He Hate It?
- Why Do Dogs Get Ear Infections After Swimming?
About the author: Arden Moore, The Pawsitive Coach, is a pet behavior consultant, master certified pet first aid instructor, author, and host of the Oh Behave! show on Pet Life Radio. Learn more at Four Legged Life and follow her on YouTube, Facebook and Twitter.