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Categories: Playing With Your Dog

Q. Are dogs naturally fans of water? Do you have to get them used to it? How do I get my dogs having fun in the pool and exercising?
Hi Cindy,

My 2 1/2 year old, 105 lb. rottie injured her cruciate ligament and through months of confinement to the house except to go potty she is back to about 80-85% of what she was doing prior to the injury. Now that summer is back and the pool is open I'd like to get her in it. However, she will only sit on the steps with her front feet and chest in the water. I have seen videos of your dogs in the pool and I'm curious if they were naturally fans of the water or if you had to get them used to it and what can I do to get her in the pool and having fun and exercising? This past weekend I picked her up and put her in but she seemed distressed the whole time even though I never let her go and kept talking to her. I don't want to do this wrong and end up making her more afraid of it.

Thanks for any insight you can give,
Jeff

A. Most of our dogs needed work to get them to like the pool. If I was using it for therapy with a dog that wasn’t thrilled with the pool, I think I’d recommend getting her a life jacket so she doesn’t flail around and reinjure the leg.

I start by sitting on the steps with them, and gradually working our way in. It’s always best if the dog makes the choice to go in on his or her own instead of being forced in. This may take minutes or it may take a week, depending on the dog. If she has a toy she likes, take that in and kind of float it in front of her nose, just out of reach. I also keep a leash on the dog at first. I teach them that the only place to get out is at the stairs (as a safety thing). You don’t want a dog to fall in and panic and not know how to get out. Dogs can drown if they don’t know where to exit.

I hope this helps.

Cindy Rhodes
  
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