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

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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 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 offers some concepts to different individuals who is perhaps acclimating their pups 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 a bonus if he can have enjoyable doing it. So I bought a doggie swimming pool. They’ve improved loads since I bought one for Clara about 10 years in the past. I bought a reasonably giant one for Lewis, not fascinated 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 manner 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 determine methods to benefit from the pool.

I knew he won’t belief the entire endeavor instantly. So for his first introduction to the pool, I made it straightforward, or so I assumed. I selected a sizzling day (antecedent association). I put the pool in a sunny space so the water would heat up a little bit and stuffed it solely partway full. I threw a few his toys in there that may float. I bought in there myself and beckoned him.

No go. No manner in hell was he going to jump over the 12-inch wall into the pale blue unknown. What I assumed is perhaps straightforward was unimaginable for him. I discovered 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 completely happy and assured about leaping into the pool, first empty after which with water in it. I wanted to create a sequence of desensitizing actions that weren’t scary for him. And we bought there! Right here’s how we did it.

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

Be aware: this methodology was for introduction to a child’s above-ground pool solely. If it’s essential to train your canine to swim in a built-in pool, try “How one can Train Your Canine to Swim” on the Karen Pryor Clicker Coaching web site.

Desensitizing to Leaping into the Swimming Pool

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

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

• entering 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 leap

I break up every of those right into a sequence of behaviors. I mixed desensitization with operant conditioning. The desensitization half was the very gradual exposures (you’ll see the listing under). The operant conditioning half was utilizing constructive 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 must. The pool had already been in his surroundings for a couple of days, and he had by no means been fearful of it. Leaping in was the problem.

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

Reasonably than attempting to form him to get into one factor, as I attempted with the tray within the “avoidance” video above, I gathered a sequence of objects with diverse traits for him to get on, over, or in. Marge Rogers and I consult with 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 completely happy associations with the objects and actions. I took issues slowly sufficient that he was hardly 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 averted 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 a little bit focusing on, however principally waited for him to get the concept 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 necessary later.)
• Soar onto a 12″ elevated platform (a Klimb). He already knew how to do that, beloved 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 a giant 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 leap set at 2″. This was one other object he walked by many occasions daily 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 considered one of these into the pool.
• Soar straight into the (dry) pool.
• Repeat a collection of the previous couple of steps with water within the pool, and maybe Eileen within the pool as effectively.
• Soar straight into the pool with water in it.

First Steps with the Platforms, Bins, and Soar

This video reveals the inspiration work we did with a lot of the listed objects. Sure, he actually bought proper into the plastic tray after I requested him to, though he wouldn’t do this earlier after I tried to form the habits.

Making use of The Actions to the Pool

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

I put the 12″ platform subsequent to the pool and had him get on and off a bunch of occasions. 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 effectively. Quickly he had jumped onto that one and likewise 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 entering 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 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 was now comfy leaping into and out of the dry pool. I took a hiatus of a few 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 attention-grabbing had blown in. And naturally, I gave him a little bit deal with or two.

Lastly, on one other sizzling 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 following 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 bought 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 bought a pet who loves the water a lot which you could’t preserve him out of it. Fortunate you!

Otherwise you simply picked up your younger canine and plopped him into the pool and the whole lot labored out tremendous. Or possibly 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 threat of fallout. In case your canine got here out unscathed and discovered 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 handle the worry that usually outcomes from that than it does to go sluggish initially.

Talking of “sluggish”—my methodology wasn’t sluggish. It took a lot, far more time to write down up this publish and edit the flicks than to do the coaching. As I discussed above, there have been fewer than quarter-hour of coaching, and so they included the enjoyable play on the finish. These quarter-hour gave my canine one thing that can enrich him for the remainder of his life.

Copyright 2022 Eileen Anderson

Associated Posts

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

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