By Janet McAfee
What could be more refreshing than lounging in the cool crisp water of your backyard pool during these continuing warm “dog days” of summer (although we are officially in fall). Many Coachella Valley residents have backyard pools, and their dogs may join them for a refreshing swim. Supervised dog swimming can be used to rehabilitate injuries, and it provides great exercise for dogs when proper safety precautions are taken.
Sadly, countless dogs suffer near drowning incidents and death from drowning in backyard pools. No statistics are available regarding this tragedy. However, several of my friends have recently lost dogs due to drowning. In one instance, a senior dog lost weight and slipped through the fence protecting her from the pool, and the disoriented animal fell in the water. Another friend lost his Dachshund to drowning in the backyard pool after the dog had safely navigated the pool for many years. Breeds with shorter legs such as Dachshunds are more vulnerable to drowning.
Teach your dog how to swim. If you are not sure how to proceed with this, get a dog trainer to assist. A trainer can help your dog overcome any fear of water they may have as well as teach them swimming basics. Ensure your dog knows where the pool steps are located, and how to find them from different areas of the pool. He should be obedience trained first, because a dog that won’t reliably come when called on land will be unlikely to come when called in the water.
Valerie Masi, dog trainer with Best Paw Forward, advises, “Never throw your dog in the pool! Beside the high risk of injuring the animal, this can make going into the pool a very negative experience. Chances are your dog will not want to experience it again. I suggest easing your pet into the water as you hold him. This will give the dog the confidence he needs as well as building the trust bond between animal and owner.”
Valerie also recommends getting a “scamper ramp”, a ramp designed to attach to the side of the pool which floats, allowing the dog to swim over to it and pull themselves up and out to safety. Part of the ramp is submerged which helps the dog climb out. You can place a few of these ramps in your pool to provide more exit areas, but make sure your dog knows how to use them and keep them in the same location.
Obtain a life vest for your dog to wear. This provides extra buoyancy. This item is essential if you take your dogs out on a boat ride in a large body of water. Pet immersion alarms are another device that can keep Fido safe. This alarm system attaches to his collar or harness and the base sits in your home, alerting you when he enters the pool.
It is important to seek veterinary assistance if you rescue your dog from a near drowning incident. Complications can occur such as hypothermia, pneumonia or fluid buildup in the lungs.
Exercise the same precaution you should use with children, and never leaving your pets unsupervised around deep water. If your dog is old, has a heart condition, or suffers from seizures, they should be kept completely away from the pool area.
Contact Valerie Masi with Best Paws Forward at (760) 885-9450 for assistance with safely teaching Fido to swim or any other dog training needs, www.bestpawforwarddogtraining.com. Valerie donates her expertise to help Loving All Animals’ rescue dogs, and I personally recommend her.
Enjoy happy and safe fun time with Fido!