Water safety key for dogs - Ahwatukee Foothills News: Pet Tips

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Posted: Tuesday, July 22, 2014 10:59 am

It’s summertime! Time for beer, brats, baseball and the beach. It’s also time to be sure that your kids AND dogs are safe around water. For many Valley residents, most homes come equipped with a swimming pool. It’s important that your dog learn how to get out of the pool if they fall in.

I always stress the importance of two major factors relating to dogs and water: Safety and cleanliness. I often show up to customers’ homes for a first training session and observe how the dog freely enters the pool at its own leisure. It is important to train your dog that they are only to enter the pool when invited, resulting in dog safety and not having to worry about a wet dog in the house shaking off! By following the below tips, you can rest at ease knowing that your dog will be safe around your pool:

1. Invite only. Just like I train a dog to only jump up on the couch when invited, it is the same approach when a swimming pool or body of water is involved. Dogs are reactive to sound and motion, so it can be challenging when you jump in your pool and not have Fido jump in after you. Practice having a family member or friend hold onto your dog when your about to enter the pool. Next, issue a stay command. Calmly enter the water, and then invite your dog in the pool. This routine will become customary for your dog, and in time, will reduce the desire to enter the pool on his own terms.

2. Swimming for the first time. Most dogs have a natural attraction to water. So, in case a pool is present in your yard, your dog must know the basics of how to swim. I suggest finding the lowest step in your pool to introduce your dog into the water. Carry your dog calmly down the steps and then stand about 4 feet from the lowest step. After about 10 seconds of placing your dog in the water, have them swim back to the step and exit the pool. Repeat this exercise daily about five times in a row for a week.

3. Visual marker for pool exit. Once your dog is acclimated to entering and exiting the pool, it’s important to have a visual marker just in case they fall in from a different entry point and need to exit. I often suggest placing a flower pot or a pool chair next to the exit step, so your dog becomes familiar with where the exit is. After only a few weeks of exiting at that visual marker, your dog will now be confident of where to exit the pool if they fall in.

4. Finally, safety first! Be sure your dog is familiar with your pool and how to enter/exit safely. If you have a doggie door, be aware that your dog will have full access to the pool area, so water safety is crucial!

Dogs and water are like ice cream and chocolate. They just go together. A swimming pool can offer your dog hours of challenging exercise and mental stimuli. With summertime here, be sure you’re aware of pool safety to ensure your dog will have as much fun in the pool as you do.

• Mark Siebel is owner of DOGGIE STEPS Dog Training, LLC. He has trained more than 400 Valley dogs, speaks regularly at local schools about the importance of dog safety and ownership, and donates time to youths wanting to learn more about dogs. Siebel is a member of the Arizona Professional Pet Sitters Association and Australian Shepherd Club of Arizona. Contact him at (602) 318-0122 or www.DoggieStepsDogTraining.com.

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