Swim in the Pool without Your Dog Going Nuts
We were in Pompano Beach last week installing a new Dog Guard Out of Sight Fencing® System for a client and his very active Labradoodle, Riley. She was a great dog and learned where the invisible perimeter was located and what to do very quickly. After just a few minutes, she clearly decided that the yard was a far better place to hang out as opposed to chasing all the kids down the street. Our client was thrilled with the professional installation and results of the initial training. He was sure that he could have Riley happy at home from now on. As we were packing up, he had a question for me about Riley and their pool. It wasn’t that he didn’t want Riley to go in the pool, he just didn’t want his Labradoodle jumping and going nuts every time they went into the pool. It seemed that Riley even started to jump and go crazy as soon as she saw anyone in a bathing suit.
Since my client wanted to allow Riley in the pool from time to time, we decided that putting an additional invisible dog perimeter around the pool would send conflicting signals and would not be a productive learning tool. I dug a little deeper into the “history of the family, Riley, and the pool” and discovered some interesting facts. It seems that they had always included Riley in all their pool activities. The kids would jump in the pool and then actively entice her to leap in with them. They would have her chase them around the pool and then jump in. Riley would naturally follow by trying to jump on them as they entered the water. Early on, they even had little goodies whey would give her when she got in the pool and would bring all her toys with them into the pool.
They have clearly taught Riley that it is acceptable and even required to go nuts whenever anyone is in the pool. Because they have encouraged her to chase them when they are in their bathing suits (running around the pool), she will even engage them away from the pool if she saw them in their bathing suits. They have created a consistent rule that going crazy around the pool is fine.
I can’t blame the kids or parents for doing this because they didn’t know what they were doing. We humans can understand a rule that says “Do this except when…”. Riley, a dog, can only understand a rule of “Do this”. We need to undo the inappropriate rule. In order to accomplish this, we need to set up new boundaries, decrease adrenalized triggers, and introduce more appropriate distractions. Here is what I suggested:
- Whenever anyone was going to get in the pool, make sure that Riley has a leash on her before she sees them in their bathing suit. There must be a “handler” who will be holding the leash when Riley sees the person in the bathing suit.
- If Riley begins to adrenalize, the handler will correct and redirect her away until she becomes calm.
- Once Riley is calm, reintroduce her to the family member in the bathing suit and repeat the redirection until she no longer goes nuts.
- Break up the association of “bathing suit means pool” by having the family member in the bathing suit do something completely unrelated to the pool. Watch TV, make a sandwich, sit in the family room, walk out the front door, etc.
- Repeat this for a few days until Riley no longer goes nuts at the sight of a family member in a bathing suit.
- Now, I suggest ramping up the association by having the family member in the bathing suit walk out the appropriate exit as if they were going to the pool. The handler needs to correct and redirect, as needed.
- Once Riley does not go nuts over this, I have the handler walk outside with the other family member and have them walk around the yard together. The family member is not to get into the pool, but can walk around the pool. The handler needs to correct and redirect, if needed.
- Once Riley is fine with this, we repeat all the above steps except that the handler will not be holding the leash. He (or she) will be nearby, ready to step on and pick up the leash, if needed. This allows Riley to place more focus on the family member in the bathing suit. It also allows the handler to see if she has appropriately learned the lesson that the bathing suit is not a crazy time.
- Once Riley can calmly see a family member in a bathing suit and stays calm as they pass through the house and around the yard, I ask the family member to calmly step into the pool. The handler is holding the leash and guides Riley to a chair near the pool where they have some toys and goodies.
- The person gets deeper into the pool and calmly moves around. If Riley starts to go nuts, I ask the handler to walk her around and to an area where she is calm and focused on the handler. Once this occurs, they come back, sit down, and continue their focused play and goodie time.
- The person in the pool continues their activity and slowly ramps up their movements. If Riley reacts, the handler corrects and redirects.
- Once Riley has been calm with the person in the pool, the handler drops the leash and slowly steps away. This allows Riley to make a more “natural” decision regarding what she has just learned.
- If the Labradoodle gives too much focus to the “pool person”, I instruct the handler to approach, step on the leash, pick up the leash, and redirect until she is no longer engaged.
- We repeat the above steps for a few days until Riley is not interested in the person in the pool.
- We now ramp up the process by slowly adding additional family members into the pool. I ask more family members to enter the pool, but only one at a time per training session. This allows the handler to quickly correct and redirect, if needed.
- We simply repeat until we have the entire family in the pool and playing with Riley deciding that there are better things to do.
- I warn the kids (especially) not to encourage her by throwing balls and other things in the pool for her to fetch. This can reverse the progress that they have made.
Riley now doesn’t actively go in the pool just because the family is playing in it. It is perfectly fine if she wants to get in the pool by herself to swim and play. I just don’t want the family to be in at the same time.
As time goes by, it is fine to start to reintroduce her back in the pool with the family members. This must be done by invitation only and Riley should always swim with a leash. This allows family members to direct her away from becoming too adrenalized or remove her from the pool, if necessary.
Consistency, application of rules, and socialization are all critical parts of dog training and are needed in trying to let our dogs know how to behave around the pool. We love providing you with helpful dog training suggestions and assistance on containing your pets with our underground dog fence. Go to Dog Fence Training Help Pompano Beach South Florida or phone us at (954) 472-4724. For more dog training and pet containment articles, please go to Best Out of Sight Dog Fence Trainers Pompano Beach South Florida. Robin and I have successfully trained over 3,500 dogs in the Pompano Beach area and all over South Florida to be great dogs through behavioral dog training and perimeter dog fence training. We have a professional installation process and proven dog training system for our Dog Guard Out of Sight Fencing® Products. If your dog naturally stays at home, but likes to jump on people and pulls when you walk, please check us out at Home Dog Training Pompano Beach South Florida.