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Tuesday, April 16, 2024

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 instructing 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 solution 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 rather a lot since I received one for Clara about 10 years in the past. I received a reasonably massive one for Lewis, not eager about 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 ultimately 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 straight away. So for his first introduction 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 space so the water would heat up a little bit and crammed it solely partway full. I threw a few his toys in there that might float. I received 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 may be simple was unattainable for him. I realized as we went alongside that his warning was extra concerning the enclosing wall than the water inside.

So, on to Plan B. I’d work out a sequence of graduated exposures. The objective was for Lewis to really feel completely satisfied 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 received there! Right here’s how we did it.

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

Observe: this methodology was for introduction to a child’s above-ground pool solely. If you must educate your canine to swim in a built-in pool, take a look at “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 setting, water or no. It was a little bit too bizarre, and the partitions had been too excessive for him to step over in a manner he felt secure. I may have bent the wall down considerably and began that manner, with me shaping him to step into the pool area. However that would have proved awkward as we proceeded. And I wished 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 secure 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 bounce

I cut 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 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 must. The pool had already been in his setting for just a few days, and he had by no means been afraid 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 making an attempt 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 diversified traits for him to get on, over, or in. Marge Rogers and I consult with such setups in our ebook about pet socialization as “confidence programs.” I positively bolstered his interactions to increase his palette of behaviors and construct completely satisfied associations with the objects and actions. I took issues slowly sufficient that he was infrequently 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 secure 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 bolstered 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 vital 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 bit 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 packing containers.
• Soar over an agility bounce set at 2″. This was one other object he walked by many occasions daily however was reluctant to work together with once 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 collection of the previous couple of steps with water within the pool, and maybe Eileen within the pool as properly.
• Soar immediately into the pool with water in it.

First Steps with the Platforms, Containers, and Soar

This video exhibits the inspiration work we did with many of the listed objects. Sure, he actually received proper into the plastic tray once I requested him to, despite the fact that he wouldn’t do this earlier once 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 objects outdoors and received 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 properly. 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 onerous to separate out gradations of moving into an above-ground pool. You’re both in it or out of it. There aren’t any stairs. However elevating the underside modified the character of the bounce 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 repeatedly 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 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 which you can’t hold him out of it. Fortunate you!

Otherwise you simply picked up your younger canine and plopped him into the pool and every thing labored out effective. 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 danger of fallout. In case your canine got here out unscathed and realized to like water, you and he had been fortunate. That doesn’t all the time occur. Definitely you didn’t imply to, however you risked traumatizing your canine. And it takes considerably longer to deal with the concern that sometimes outcomes from that than it does to go gradual at the start.

Talking of “gradual”—my methodology wasn’t gradual. It took a lot, far more time to jot down 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, and so they 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 Remedy MY Concern by Shoving Cookies at Me! (this publish additionally incorporates a listing of desensitizing, graduated exposures, however they’re for one thing fully completely different)
Instructing a Canine to Station Whereas One other Canine Works (extra platform work!)

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