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

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, however it appeared well timed to replace and republish this publish from June 2022 about educating Lewis to get right into a swimming pool. I hope it provides some concepts to different individuals who may be acclimating their pups to a pool.


In a spot with sweltering summers, a option to cool off an lively canine like Lewis is a should! And it’s a bonus if he can have enjoyable doing it. So I received a doggie swimming pool. They’ve improved loads since I received one for Clara about 10 years in the past. I received a reasonably giant one for Lewis, not interested by the challenges that may current for him.  

He was unwilling to leap into it at first, so I’m going to share the systematic method I launched him to the pool.

There have been some indicators that Lewis would finally have a blast in it. He’s an all-weather canine. He was entranced by snow final winter. He runs round with out inhibition within the rain, even intentionally splashing in puddles. I guessed he’d work out methods to benefit from the pool.

I knew he may not belief the entire endeavor straight away. So for his first introduction to the pool, I made it simple, or so I believed. I selected a scorching day (antecedent association). I put the pool in a sunny space so the water would heat up slightly and stuffed it solely partway full. I threw a few his toys in there that may float. I received in there myself and beckoned him.

No go. No method in hell was he going to jump over the 12-inch wall into the pale blue unknown. What I believed may be simple was not possible for him. I realized as we went alongside that his warning was extra in regards to the enclosing wall than the water inside.

So, on to Plan B. I’d work out a sequence of graduated exposures. The purpose was for Lewis to really feel joyful and assured about leaping into the pool, first empty after which with water in it. I wanted to create a collection of desensitizing actions that weren’t scary for him. And we received there! Right here’s how we did it.

Though this publish is lengthy and detailed, the overall coaching time was about quarter-hour.

Word: this technique was for introduction to a child’s above-ground pool solely. If you could educate your canine to swim in a built-in pool, take a look at “The right way to Train Your Canine to Swim” on the Karen Pryor Clicker Coaching website.

Desensitizing to Leaping into the Swimming Pool

Lewis is curious and daring however was reluctant to get into this new object in his setting, water or no. It was slightly too bizarre, and the partitions have been too excessive for him to step over in a method he felt protected. I may have bent the wall down considerably and began that method, with me shaping him to step into the pool house. However that might have proved awkward as we proceeded. And I needed to deal with the issue at its root and educate him that if I current an object for him to work together with, it’s protected and a possibility to have enjoyable.

To get him to belief that it was OK to leap out and in, we labored on three basis expertise:

• moving into 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 avoiding a soar

I cut up every of those right into a collection of behaviors. I mixed desensitization with operant conditioning. The desensitization half was the very gradual exposures (you’ll see the record under). The operant conditioning half was utilizing optimistic reinforcement when Lewis interacted with the objects.

If he had been afraid of those objects in themselves, I’d have leaned towards a classical strategy, however I didn’t have to. The pool had already been in his setting for a number of days, and he had by no means been petrified of it. Leaping in was the problem.

I had seen him be equally reluctant with different objects. Here’s a video exhibiting his baseline response—avoidance—when invited to leap over or get in some objects, together with the swimming pool.

Moderately than attempting to form him to get into one factor, as I attempted with the tray within the “avoidance” video above, I gathered a collection of objects with assorted traits for him to get on, over, or in. Marge Rogers and I seek advice from such setups in our e book about pet socialization as “confidence programs.” I positively strengthened his interactions to increase his palette of behaviors and construct joyful associations with the objects and actions. I took issues slowly sufficient that he was rarely reluctant to strive one thing I arrange. After getting on a few platforms and a flat field, he stepped proper into the tray he had prevented earlier.

Desensitization Order

That is the order of the actions I used to show him it was protected to leap into the pool. I by no means lured him onto or into something with meals or toys. I used slightly focusing on, however largely waited for him to get the thought 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″ elevated platform. (The platforms are essential later.)
• Soar onto a 12″ elevated platform (a Klimb). He already knew how to do that, liked this platform, and was used to stationing there.
• Step onto a mat (additionally one thing he already knew to do).
• Step onto a chunk of cardboard on the ground whereas I anchor it (no sliding!).
• Step into a big, shallow plastic tray (this was an enormous step, even with a tray with very shallow sides).
• 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 containers.
• Soar over an agility soar set at 2″. This was one other object he walked by many instances each day however was reluctant to work together with after I requested him to.
• Soar onto a 12″ platform whereas it’s subsequent to and abutting the pool.
• Soar onto a 12″ platform whereas it’s contained in the pool (no water).
• Soar from the 12″ platform onto the two″ platform within the pool.
• Soar down from one in every of these into the pool.
• Soar immediately into the (dry) pool.
• Repeat a number of the previous couple of steps with water within the pool, and maybe Eileen within the pool as nicely.
• Soar immediately into the pool with water in it.

First Steps with the Platforms, Bins, and Soar

This video reveals the muse work we did with many of the listed objects. Sure, he actually received proper into the plastic tray after I requested him to, though he wouldn’t do this earlier after I tried to form the conduct.

Making use of The Actions to the Pool

After he mastered the boldness course inside, I introduced all of the gadgets outdoors and received him into and on them once more. I added the swimming pool to the combo, with no water in it.

I put the 12″ platform subsequent to the pool and had him get on and off a bunch of instances. Then I put it contained in the pool, pressed proper as much as the sting. He jumped on with no hesitation! We practiced that, then I put the decrease platform into the pool as nicely. 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 onerous to separate out gradations of moving into an above-ground pool. You’re both in it or out of it. There are not any stairs. However elevating the underside modified the character of the soar 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 was now comfy leaping into and out of the dry pool. I took a hiatus of a couple of week when the climate cooled off. However throughout that point, the pool was on my porch, empty. He jumped in there frequently for enjoyable and to see if one thing fascinating had blown in. And naturally, I gave him slightly deal with or two.

Lastly, on one other scorching day, I put the pool again into the yard with the 12″ platform inside. I put water in it, not even an inch, simply sufficient to create some puddles on the underside. He fortunately jumped onto the platform, then from there into the pool. Then he began leaping straight into the pool from outdoors of it. Win!

The subsequent time, I put about 2″ of water in it. Within the video, the 12″ platform was within the pool, and within the first half, I used to be sitting on it. Then I received out. He made a recreation of working across the yard 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 can hear a few of you chortling on the market. You’ve received a pet who loves the water a lot that you may’t hold him out of it. Fortunate you!

Otherwise you simply picked up your younger canine and plopped him into the pool and every part labored out high quality. Or perhaps you even tossed him within the water to study to swim. However even when your canine likes water now, these are dangerous strategies.

As with all makes use of of aversive strategies, there’s a danger of fallout. In case your canine got here out unscathed and realized to like water, you and he have been fortunate. That doesn’t at all times occur. Definitely you didn’t imply to, however you risked traumatizing your canine. And it takes considerably longer to deal with the worry that sometimes outcomes from that than it does to go gradual at the start.

Talking of “gradual”—my technique wasn’t gradual. It took a lot, rather more time to put in writing up this publish and edit the films than to do the coaching. As I discussed above, there have been fewer than quarter-hour of coaching, they usually included the enjoyable play on the finish. These quarter-hour gave my canine one thing that may enrich him for the remainder of his life.

Copyright 2022 Eileen Anderson

Associated Posts

You Can’t Treatment MY Worry by Shoving Cookies at Me! (this publish additionally encompasses a record of desensitizing, graduated exposures, however they’re for one thing utterly totally different)
Educating a Canine to Station Whereas One other Canine Works (extra platform work!)

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