Q. We have decided to treat ourselves to a new swimming pool this year for the whole family (including the dog). But we are not sure how to introduce the pool safely to him. Is it true that all dogs can swim? Jim, via e-mail
A. I admire your enthusiasm – and although I really don't want to put a dampener on your new pool, there are a few safety issues to consider.
Firstly, what kind of dog do you have? Some can swim better than others. If you have a Labrador or a spaniel type which adores the water then you'll never get them out of the pool, but pugs, Boston terriers and other similar dogs find it harder to do the doggie paddle, so you have to be particularly careful with them. Furthermore, do you really want your dog, along with all those muddy paws, moulting hair and dog dribble, in your beautiful new swimming pool?
If you decide that you can cope with all the extra dirt in the pool, and your dog is totally at ease in the water, then you need to make sure your dog can only jump into the pool when he is supervised. Unsupervised dogs in water can be at risk of drowning.
The biggest problem is that dogs often have a lot of difficulty getting out of swimming pools on their own, as the sides of the pool can be steep.
You can get a ramp that fits to the side of the pool which makes it easier for dogs to get out. Help teach your dog how to do this. Put him on the ramp, station someone on the side of the pool and when the dog gets out safely give him a big reward. Other safety measures are installing protective fencing and gates around the pool. There are also alarms you can have fitted which will alert you if the surface of the water is broken. Besides that, you could get a cover for the pool, but make sure the dog cannot get under it and that it is well secured. And remember: if the pool is empty, be extra vigilant! Good luck, happy swimming and let's hope we have a better summer...
Remember that if an animal shows signs of distress or discomfort an early visit to the vet is always recommended