I was in Canton last Tuesday with a new Home Dog Training client and the family’s nine-month-old Golden Retriever named Woody. Woody came to the family from a breeder in North Carolina and had been with them for about six and a half months. He had grown out of his “puppy size”, but still had his “play-all-the-time” puppy nature. This was the main problem they had called me to their home to resolve.
Woody came around quite quickly as soon as we provided him with consistent rules, kept things calm, and remained consistent. We even got him to walk with them up and down the street without pulling or jumping at every squirrel in the trees or leaf blowing on the ground. They were very, very happy with what they had accomplished and how Woody was behaving.
As we were finishing up, they asked if I could provide some advice on one more thing. (I always love these “one more thing” questions because they are often the most important question of the day.)
They mentioned that they had just “de-winteized” their pool for summer. They got Woody when the pool had already been shut down for winter and had never introduced him to the water. Since he is a Golden Retriever and “all Goldens love the water”, they really wanted to get him involved with the pool.
This was a great question and I told them I was glad they had asked for my advice. Over my “dog-training experience”, I have seen many dog owners really want to have their dogs “love to be in the pool”. They see all the pictures and TV shows where the dogs just jump in and love the experience.
Well, in reality, professional photographs and TV shows are not necessarily a true depiction of “the real world”. We see TV shows where “regular people” snap on parachutes and jump out of “perfectly good planes”. We think to ourselves, “I would never do that! No how! No way!”.
So, now we must ask ourselves, “Do all dogs want to swim?”
The answer is “No”.
Some dogs love the pool and are wonderful swimmers, some dogs whine and do the “dog paddle” to the side as quickly as possible, and some dogs don’t want to get near the pool. That is up to them. What we can do, as good pet owners, is to assure their safety in the pool. Here are some tips.
- I WANT TO EMPHASIZE THAT YOU PERFORM ALL THESE STEPS IN A CALM ENVIRONMENT! THERE CAN BE NO SCREAMING KIDS (OR ADULTS) IN OR AROUND THE POOL!
- No one can assume that their dog “wants to swim”. Strange as it may sound, some water dogs hate the water and others can’t wait to jump in. If you force your dog into the water, you will create a negative, physical experience that could harm your dog as well as his trust and respect for you.
- The first thing to do is to have your dog on a leash and slowly coax him into the water.
- Hold your dog next to you. Stay calm and reassure him that everything is alright.
- Slowly guide him around the pool and back to the steps as you would a small child in the pool for the first time.
- Repeat the above process several times for several days.
- Now, when you are in the water with him, gently let him go so that he can swim under his own power. Keep him close to you and bring him back if he shows signs of agitation or nervousness.
- Passively and slowly guide him back to the steps to get out.
- Repeat this process several times for several days.
- Keep doing this step until he naturally goes back to the steps without your instruction.
- After he is swimming and knows where the steps are located, have him jump in the pool (away from the steps). If he does not want to jump in the pool, do not force him or throw him in.
- If he does not go back to the steps, guide him back.
- Repeat this process until he can jump in the pool and go back without guidance.
- Keep it slow!
Your dog should now be safe around the pool. As always, we never encourage leaving your dog unattended around the pool. Also, keep him out of the pool if you have just added chemicals.
Please call Robin or me at (770) 718-7704 if you need any dog training help. We are blessed to have been your local dog training professionals for over seventeen years. We have trained over 5,000 great dogs and loving families and are ready to help you.