One of my friends just bought a house. Since I live in a Manhattan apartment, I am insanely jealous. Because the house sits on a lovely tree-shaded piece of property with a fenced in yard, my friend’s dog, a bouncy young West Highland White Terrier, is ecstatic and can’t wait to chase squirrels, dig holes and roll in the grass. But dog-topia has a problem, the in-ground swimming pool.
I don’t believe dogs understand what a swimming pool is or how dangerous it can be. Not all dogs are natural swimmers. Many dogs fall in the pool only once, and after they are rescued by their family, never again willingly go back into the pool enclosure. Every summer there are unsuspecting dogs who fall into the pool when no one else is around. Some drown because they are alone and cannot swim. Others can swim, but quickly become exhausted when they cannot figure out how to get out of the pool.
To protect my friend’s dog, I made the following suggestions to help him keep his swimming pool safe for his dog.
The well-dressed dog
The Animal Medical Center uses dog lifejackets in our underwater treadmills. For those worried their dog might fall into the pool, the same lifejacket might put their minds at ease. To fit dogs of multiple proportions cared for by The Tina Santi Flaherty Rehabilitation & Fitness Service, we have six different sizes ranging from Chihuahua to Irish Wolfhound!
I found a huge variety of swimming pool alarm systems. Particularly appealing were some with both a poolside and a remote alarm, so no matter whether you are near the pool or inside the house, you can hear it go off. These alarms detect motion in the pool water. There are other alarms worn on your dog’s collar. These alarms begin beeping when they get wet, alerting you to the fact that your dog has fallen into the pool. For reviews on pool alarms, check out the Good Housekeeping Research Institute website.
I also found an assortment of pool fences to cordon off your pool from an inquisitive puppy. There are removable fences that form a temporary barrier, providing safety, while maintaining aesthetics. Pool nets stretch over your pool, and while designed to keep children from falling into the pool, they would also keep small dogs safe. You could also construct an invisible barricade by installing an electric fence or by quickly setting up a wireless instant pet fence.
Stairway to safety
If your pool has stairs rather than a ladder, spend some time in the pool with your dog, teaching him how to swim to the stairs and use them to get out of the pool. If your pool only has a ladder, then consider installing a ramp and teaching your dog to use it to escape from the water.
For other helpful pool safety suggestions for the whole family, try the National Drowning Prevention Alliance website.