We were at a Home Dog Training Session with a client in Milton regarding food aggression and dog socialization when his little daughter came running through the family room and out to the pool. “Oh, I have another dog training problem I would like you guys to solve for me! I would love to have my dog in the pool with the entire family, but sometimes he doesn’t know his limits and things just get crazy. Is there anything we can do to have a good pool time for all?”
Sometimes our best dog training tips come directly from our own experiences as dog owners. Two of our six dogs love the pool and are also just crazy in general. In order to have a “survivable” pool time, we had to create a manageable association that we could then transfer to the pool. This is something that we can first create and maintain while out of the pool and then transfer to the pool. The entire concept is “calm there”, “calm here”.
Both of our dogs love to play fetch, so we decided to completely manage the process and provide the proper leadership during the activity to demand their respect and obedience. Transferring this activity to the pool would then keep the “cool, calm, and collected” activity associated with the pool.
We began to practice the exercise while we were outside the pool. The most important part of the activity was to manage their return to us. It had to be calm and they had to drop the fetch toy at our feet and then sit down in front of us without barking. They also could not lunge or move until we picked up the fetch toy and threw it for them.
Now that we have mastered the fetch game and they are calm when they bring the toys to us, we are ready for the pool!
You want to start out slow, so first just stand on the first step of the shallow end and repeat the fetch game where he brings the fetch toy to you and drops it on the ground right in front of you standing on the first step. Perform this for a while and stop for the day. Start the next day from the steps, but now slowly move down the steps (I said slowly!) and still have him bring the fetch toy in front of you and drop it. As soon as you see any increased energy or “craziness”, stop. Continue this process for a few days until you are able to throw the fetch toy into the far side of the pool. Make sure that the fetch toy floats. Direct him to the nearest “out” of the pool and have him bring the toy back to you, drop it, and wait for you to throw it again. Through this entire time, maintain a calm and cool environment while you are interacting with him.
Your dog is now playing calmly with you while you are in the pool and he is not on top of you. Now it is time to introduce other “calm” humans into the pool. Have them play with your dog in the same way so that he understands that calm play is a rule for everyone in the pool.
Give it a shot! It has worked for us and has given us countless hours of fun pool time with family, friends, and our dogs.
Please call Robin or me at (770) 718-7704 or (770) 718-7716 if you need any dog training help. We are blessed to have been your local dog training experts for over fourteen years. We have trained over 5,000 great dogs and loving families and are ready to help you.