It is important to remember that even though pools are a great addition to our backyards they can also be dangerous. Pool safety is not only for people and it is important to realise that dogs (and other animals) can drown in pools. The following are some important tips on how to keep your dog safe when they are in or around a pool. Remember, dogs often don’t see the same dangers you do, so to them jumping in the pool is just fun and not potentially life threatening.
Dogs are often left unsupervised for long periods of time which allows them to get up to mischief. If they decide that they feel like going for a swim or getting into the pool area they can often find a way either by digging, jumping over a fence or pushing through a fence. You need to ensure that the pool fence is safe and well maintained to try and prevent this from happening. Make sure there is nothing on or close to the fence that they could climb on and then jump over the fence. Some dogs might like to dig under a pool fence so they can squeeze their way into the pool area. Be sure to check around the edge of the pool fence daily to see if your dog has been busy digging. Also make sure you do not leave toys in or around the pool as pets may be able to see them and be attracted to them.
If your dog does go swimming in the pool or has access to a pool the first thing you need to show them is how it get out of the pool safely by using the steps or a ramp. Make sure that the pool steps or ramp are dog friendly and easy to use for them. Depending on the size of your dog you may need to alter the steps, sometimes by making more steps, so they can easily get out. A ramp, like a Skamper Ramp, is often the easiest and safest way for your dog to exit the pool. Ensure that the steps or ramp are not slippery as you don’t want them sliding around on it and hurting themselves.
The other most important pool safety rule for your dog is to teach them how to swim. Not all dogs are good swimmers or even naturally know how to swim. You should teach your dog to swim in a controlled environment when you are in the water with them supervising and able to help if needed. Not all dogs can swim, so you need to show them the basics and help them until they get the hang of it. I found the following website had some great tips on how to teach your dog to swim http://www.clickertraining.com/node/3588. If you are not able to or want a bit of help you should speak to a local dog trainer and they may be able to come and assist.
Invest in a flotation device or life jacket to help keep your dog afloat. There are a few options available like the EzyDog Dog Floatation Device or Paws Aboard Doggy Life Jacket. They are a great idea if your dog is not a confident or very capable swimmer and it gives you that piece of mind that they are a little bit safer. However, do keep in mind that this does not mean you can leave them unsupervised.
Learn Doggy CPR. As a pet owner knowing Doggy CPR is a useful tool that you hopefully will never have to use but it could possibly save your dogs life. Some local animal organisations, shelters, trainers or your vet may run classes or be able to teach you the correct CPR techniques.
An alarm is a good last line of defence for the pool. There are pool alarms available that are designed to go off when something like a pet or even a fallen branch breaks the water surface.
If you bring home a new puppy or kitten you must ensure that they can not get through the pool fence or better still they don’t have access to the area at all. They are so tiny that they can often squeeze through the standard pool fencing and being young and out exploring they may just end up falling in the pool.
Keep in mind that cats can also drown in pools although most cats don’t like water some breeds like Bengals actually love water. Cats can jump a pool fence and are sometimes attracted to a swimming pool to drink out of or just to look at, which then makes them at risk of falling in.
Never leave a dog unsupervised or with free access to a pool. Even if they can swim, they should never be left alone in or around a pool as accidents can happen. Please make sure that your pool and pool fence are safe and you follow the above tips to help to avoid any tragedies.
Until next time,