Summer’s turning into fall, and if the weather is still warm in a certain locale, people are always looking for ways to socialize their dogs, help them burn off some energy and keep them cool.
In hot weather, walks are limited to the early morning and late evening hours, leaving a large chunk of the day to fill. Weekend canine pool parties may be the answer to your prayers.
The key is to remember that, in many ways dogs, are like children, and there are certain things you need to do to keep them safe while they sociably cool off.
The first thing to think about when making a guest list for a canine pool party are the breeds of the potential attendees.
Certain breeds struggle to both swim and breathe in a pool, particularly brachycephalic dogs (those with shortened or flattened faces or muzzles). Some brachycephalic breeds include:
- Pekingese dogs
- French and American Bulldogs
- Cavalier King Charles Spaniels
- Japanese Chins
- Shih Tzus
- Neapolitan, English and Bull Mastiffs
Any brachycephalic dog will find it difficult to impossible to swim safely. As the pool owner, you’re liable for accidents, so you want to start by leaving brachycephalics off the guest list — or at least providing them with other entertainment in a cool, shaded location.
It goes without saying that you’ll want this to be a happy, fun experience for your dogs and the guests.
So don’t invite aggressive dogs — the last thing you need is a fight breaking out in or around the pool. Human attendees should specify whether their dog has any type of aggression toward other dogs/animals, people or food, and water.
At no point should the dogs be left unsupervised — not even for a moment.
Invite humans to stay so that you have help monitoring what’s going on by the pool. Life-threatening issues can arise out of nowhere, and if you’re not around, it can be tragic. In Woofing It Down: The Quick & Easy Guide to Making Healthy Dog Food at Home, author Patricia O’Grady relates a personal (and scary) incident:
“Many years ago, one of my Yorkies accidentally fell into my swimming pool and almost drowned. … She treaded water as long as she could but couldn’t paddle fast enough to make up for the weight of all that wet hair. Just as she was sinking to the bottom, I was able to jump in and grab her … always supervise your dog swimming, you wouldn’t leave a small child alone in the pool; don’t leave your dog alone!”
Insist that all dogs entering the pool wear a life vest. Even dogs who can swim may panic, forget or not know how to get out — or simply stay in too long and get tired.
If a dog doesn’t have a life vest, they shouldn’t be in the water. Believe it or not, not all dogs are born knowing how to swim perfectly, and some can’t swim well at all. In addition, all the activity with other dogs will be exciting and distracting to dogs, and they may lose focus.
If a dog doesn’t have a vest, they can’t go in. Some people provide a kiddie pool with a few inches of water for smaller, less capable swimmers so these dogs can get wet in comparative safety (but they should still be supervised).
When no adult human is present, the pool should be empty and secure. Gates should be closed and dogs kept out of the pool area until a human can return to keep an eye on things.
Remember, it only takes a few moments for a tragedy to strike. Even if a dog is a great swimmer, they may be unfamiliar with pools and not understand how to get out.
Most dogs need to be trained or shown how to use the steps and where they are, but it’s easy for them to get disoriented. Humans should always be on hand to assist a dog out of the pool.
Wow, this Boxer loves to dive:
It sounds funny, but you’ll want to provide plenty of fresh water for thirsty dogs and discourage them from drinking the pool water. Most pools use chlorine to keep them clean, which is not something you want a dog to ingest a lot of. Swimming is exercise, and on hot days, the dogs will want to drink a lot of water to stay hydrated.
Dogs with sensitive ears or skin may have irritations from chlorine after they swim, so the American Kennel Club recommends a quick spray with the hose after the dog gets out of the pool.
This is a lot of information, but don’t forget to have fun! A pool party can be great for dogs and their humans. It provides welcome relief from the heat, a way to exercise your pet safely and important socialization skills.
As for you, you get to sit by the pool and play with dogs — not a bad way to spend your day, is it?