How I Taught My Canine to Get Right into a Swimming Pool


A white hound dog with brown on his face and ears is standing, smiling next to a kids' above-ground swimming pool

I don’t do many reruns, but it surely gave the impression well timed to replace and republish this publish from June 2022 about educating Lewis to get right into a swimming pool. I am hoping it provides some concepts to different individuals who may well be acclimating their domestic dogs to a pool.


In a spot with sweltering summers, a approach to cool off an energetic canine like Lewis is a should! And it’s an advantage if he may have a laugh doing it. So I were given a doggie swimming pool. They’ve progressed so much since I were given one for Clara about 10 years in the past. I were given a reasonably massive one for Lewis, now not occupied with the demanding situations that may provide for him.  

He used to be unwilling to leap into it in the beginning, so I’m going to percentage the systematic means I presented him to the pool.

There have been some signs that Lewis would sooner or later have a blast in it. He’s an all-weather canine. He used to be entranced through snow remaining wintry weather. He runs round with out inhibition within the rain, even intentionally splashing in puddles. I guessed he’d work out techniques to benefit from the pool.

I knew he may now not consider the entire enterprise in an instant. So for his first advent to the pool, I made it simple, or so I assumed. I selected a sizzling day (antecedent association). I put the pool in a sunny house so the water would heat up a little bit and crammed it most effective partway complete. I threw a few his toys in there that will waft. I were given in there myself and beckoned him.

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No cross. No means in hell used to be he going to jump over the 12-inch wall into the light blue unknown. What I assumed may well be simple used to be not possible for him. I realized as we went alongside that his warning used to be extra in regards to the enclosing wall than the water inside of.

So, directly to Plan B. I might determine a chain of graduated exposures. The purpose used to be for Lewis to really feel glad and assured about leaping into the pool, first empty after which with water in it. I had to create a chain of desensitizing actions that weren’t frightening for him. And we were given there! Right here’s how we did it.

Even if this publish is lengthy and detailed, the full coaching time used to be about quarter-hour.

Notice: this system used to be for advent to a child’s above-ground pool most effective. If you wish to have to show your canine to swim in a integrated pool, take a look at “How one can Educate Your Canine to Swim” at the Karen Pryor Clicker Coaching web page.

Desensitizing to Leaping into the Swimming Pool

Lewis is curious and ambitious however used to be reluctant to get into this new object in his atmosphere, water or no. It used to be a little bit too bizarre, and the partitions had been too prime for him to step over in some way he felt secure. I will have bent the wall down relatively and began that means, with me shaping him to step into the pool area. However that will have proved awkward as we proceeded. And I sought after to handle the issue at its root and educate him that if I provide an object for him to engage with, it’s secure and a possibility to have a laugh.

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To get him to consider that it used to be OK to leap out and in, we labored on 3 basis abilities:

• entering issues
• getting onto issues
• leaping over one thing

A white hound dog with brown on his face and ears is running around a jump made of PVC as a woman dressed in blue and purple watches
Lewis fending off a leap

I cut up every of those into a chain of behaviors. I mixed desensitization with operant conditioning. The desensitization phase used to be the very sluggish exposures (you’ll see the listing beneath). The operant conditioning phase used to be the usage of certain reinforcement when Lewis interacted with the gadgets.

If he were afraid of those gadgets in themselves, I might have leaned towards a classical way, however I didn’t want to. The pool had already been in his atmosphere for a couple of days, and he had by no means been afraid of it. Leaping in used to be the problem.

I had observed him be in a similar fashion reluctant with different gadgets. Here’s a video appearing his baseline reaction—avoidance—when invited to leap over or get in some gadgets, together with the swimming pool.

Somewhat than seeking to form him to get into something, as I attempted with the tray within the “avoidance” video above, I amassed a chain of gadgets with numerous traits for him to get on, over, or in. Marge Rogers and I seek advice from such setups in our guide about pet socialization as “self assurance classes.” I undoubtedly strengthened his interactions to increase his palette of behaviors and construct glad associations with the gadgets and actions. I took issues slowly sufficient that he used to be infrequently reluctant to take a look at one thing I arrange. Once you have on a few platforms and a flat field, he stepped proper into the tray he had have shyed away from previous.

Desensitization Order

That is the order of the actions I used to show him it used to be secure to leap into the pool. I by no means lured him onto or into anything else with meals or toys. I used a little bit focused on, however most commonly waited for him to get the theory and get in on his personal, then I strengthened generously.

A white hound dog with brown on his face and ears is sitting in a shallow, tray-like box
That is the field he wouldn’t set foot in

• Step onto a 2″ increased platform. (The platforms are essential later.)
• Bounce onto a 12″ increased platform (a Klimb). He already knew how to do that, cherished this platform, and used to be used to stationing there.
• Step onto a mat (additionally one thing he already knew to do).
• Step onto a work of cardboard at the ground whilst I anchor it (no sliding!).
• Step into a big, shallow plastic tray (this used to be a large step, even with a tray with very shallow facets).
• Step right into a shallow cardboard field with two flaps ripped off.
• Step right into a cardboard field with all flaps intact.
• Step into different cardboard bins.
• Bounce over an agility leap set at 2″. This used to be some other object he walked through again and again on a daily basis however used to be reluctant to engage with after I requested him to.
• Bounce onto a 12″ platform whilst it’s subsequent to and abutting the pool.
• Bounce onto a 12″ platform whilst it’s within the pool (no water).
• Bounce from the 12″ platform onto the two″ platform within the pool.
• Bounce down from this kind of into the pool.
• Bounce at once into the (dry) pool.
• Repeat a collection of the previous few steps with water within the pool, and most likely Eileen within the pool as neatly.
• Bounce at once into the pool with water in it.

First Steps with the Platforms, Packing containers, and Bounce

This video presentations the basis paintings we did with many of the indexed gadgets. Sure, he in reality were given proper into the plastic tray after I requested him to, despite the fact that he wouldn’t do this previous after I attempted to form the habits.

Making use of The Actions to the Pool

After he mastered the boldness direction inside of, I introduced all of the pieces outdoor and were given him into and on them once more. I added the swimming pool to the combination, with out a water in it.

I put the 12″ platform subsequent to the pool and had him get off and on a host of occasions. Then I put it within the pool, pressed proper as much as the threshold. He jumped on with out a hesitation! We practiced that, then I put the decrease platform into the pool as neatly. Quickly he had jumped onto that one and in addition began leaping down into the pool itself and exploring it.

I’m proud I considered the platform. It’s exhausting to separate out gradations of having into an above-ground pool. You’re both in it or out of it. There aren’t any stairs. However elevating the ground modified the character of the leap from “into the unknown” to “onto the acquainted platform.”

A white hound dog with brown on his face and ears is standing inside a kid's swimming pool that is not assembled and has no water in it
Lewis within the dry, crumpled pool

He used to be now comfy leaping into and out of the dry pool. I took a hiatus of a few week when the elements cooled off. However all over that point, the pool used to be on my porch, empty. He jumped in there incessantly for a laugh and to look if one thing attention-grabbing had blown in. And naturally, I gave him a little bit deal with or two.

In spite of everything, on some other sizzling day, I put the pool again into the backyard with the 12″ platform inside of. I put water in it, now not even an inch, simply sufficient to create some puddles at the backside. He fortuitously jumped onto the platform, then from there into the pool. Then he began leaping instantly into the pool from outdoor of it. Win!

The following time, I put about 2″ of water in it. Within the video, the 12″ platform used to be within the pool, and within the first phase, I used to be sitting on it. Then I were given out. He made a recreation of operating across the backyard and leaping into the pool.

Why Trouble with All This?

A white hound dog with brown on his face and ears is standing inside a kid's above-ground swimming pool

I will be able to pay attention a few of you chortling in the market. You’ve were given a pet who loves the water such a lot that you’ll be able to’t stay him out of it. Fortunate you!

Otherwise you simply picked up your younger canine and plopped him into the pool and the entirety labored out effective. Or perhaps you even tossed him within the water to learn how to swim. However although your canine likes water now, the ones are dangerous strategies.

As with any makes use of of aversive strategies, there’s a possibility of fallout. In case your canine got here out unscathed and realized to like water, you and he had been fortunate. That doesn’t at all times occur. Without a doubt you didn’t imply to, however you risked traumatizing your canine. And it takes considerably longer to handle the concern that usually effects from that than it does to move gradual originally.

Talking of “gradual”—my approach wasn’t gradual. It took a lot, a lot more time to put in writing up this publish and edit the films than to do the educational. As I discussed above, there have been fewer than quarter-hour of coaching, and so they incorporated the thrill play on the finish. The ones quarter-hour gave my canine one thing that can enrich him for the remainder of his lifestyles.

Copyright 2022 Eileen Anderson

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