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Ah, summer. The season we’ve all been waiting for—the time when we can swap out our dog’s coats and booties for bare paws and pupsicles. But as temps rise, it can be hard to keep our dogs happy and safe in the summer heat. That’s when a dog pool can come in handy, providing a great option to cool down—especially if you don’t live close to a body of water.
But do you need a dog-specific swimming pool or will a kiddie pool suffice? And can a pool for your dog offer more value beyond splashing around for fun? To find out, we’ve taken a deep dive into the world of dog pools. We’ve also interviewed Certified Professional Dog Trainer (CPDT-KA) Audrey Nett of Auddogs about the pros and cons of a swimming pool for your dog.
The Benefits of a Dog Swimming Pool
Dog Pool as Safety Tool—More Than a Splashing Good Time
Dog swimming pools aren’t just a lot of fun; they’re also surprisingly good safety tools for a variety of reasons.
First, there’s the protection they offer against dog heat stroke and heat exhaustion—dangers of the summer months that are often overlooked. Our dogs can’t change their environment, so it’s up to us as pet parents to create safe, cool spaces for our pups. Access to a pool gives a dog a measure of control over their body temperature on an especially hot day.
A swimming pool for dogs can also be a valuable safety tool in other ways, as professional dog trainer Audrey Nett points out. “A lot of people think that it comes naturally to dogs to swim well. But for some breeds, it doesn’t,” she says. “Having a dog pool can help teach them how to be comfortable with water.”
Playing with toys together in the pool can help a puppy build their tolerance and learn the ropes, opening the door to further adventures in the water. Even basic familiarity with splashing for fun can help a dog stay calm should they fall into water unexpectedly—something that can save a dog’s life.
Nett also recommends using the pool as a way to ease pups into wearing safety gear. “Introduce a life jacket in the dog pool where they already feel secure versus introducing it when you’re somewhere new and they’re over-threshold,” she recommends.
Dog Pools for Bonding with Your Pup
Not only is splashing around in a pool fun for your dog, but it’s also a fantastic way to create a lasting bond. “Playing, in general, is just a really good way to build a relationship between a dog and their guardian,” Nett says. “As long as the dog is enjoying himself in the pool, it can really build trust around water.”
That trust can also transition into making bath time more enjoyable. “If you focus on cooperative care and take your time introducing water in a fun and positive way, a bath can start to not really feel like a bath,” Nett says. “Versus forcing your dog into the tub whenever they desperately need it.”
But what if your pup just isn’t an automatic fan of water and is apprehensive to try the pool out? If that’s the case, Nett recommends first introducing the dog swimming pool without water. “Just have them check it out,” she says. “Toss some treats and toys into the pool so they can hop in and out on their own. Or put peanut butter on the sides and let them jump in and lick it. Then slowly introduce the water in very small amounts at a time.”
On the flip side, Nett notes that a dog pool could trigger overarousal in dogs who are super excited about water (we see you, Labbies), but there are still ways to work around it. “Put the pool at a distance and practice approaching it as calmly as possible. That way they’re not bolting toward it,” she says.
Do You Need a Dog-Specific Pool?
While you could use a kiddie pool in a pinch, dog swimming pools are just so much better suited for canine claws and splashing. Many are made of durable PVC material that holds up better to doggie romps. Slip-resistant bottoms also help keep your dog safe from injury, which is especially important for senior dogs.
The sides also tend to be a bit lower than the typical plastic and inflatable kiddie pools, making it easier for your dog to get in and out. Plus, there’s a wider variety of options to suit your dog’s specific needs.
The Frisco Dog Swimming Pool, for example, offers style and stability for larger dogs. Adding a splash of color with an adorable Hawaiian print, this foldable pool is made of a sturdy PVC and nylon mesh core. In our testing, we found that it holds up well to canine claws. And it does a great job keeping its shape even when not completely filled—making it ideal for pet parents who want to ease their skittish pups into swimming with games and toys in an empty pool.
It’s only available in larger sizes (XL and XXL), however, which could be inconvenient for pup parents with smaller dogs or limited space.
For a smaller and lighter design, portable pools like the Alvantor Dog Swimming Pool are a good option. They’re also good for pups on the go—perfect for camping and vacations. Easy to pop up and put away, the Alvantor is only 3.7 pounds in the standard size and 8 pounds in the large (half the weight of competitors).
The patent is still pending on this design, which might make some wary. But the company promotes a 100% satisfaction guarantee in the form of a six-month warranty.
If you’re looking for some help in the shade department, the K&H pool + canopy combo is a nice way to protect your pup from the sun’s rays. The dome shape is also helpful in keeping out leaves and debris, so you don’t have to keep cleaning the pool and refilling the water—an added economical perk. Rectangular in shape, the pool provides an alternative to the round foldable style that many other dog pools offer.
For the full roundup of our favorite dog pool picks, check out our article “The Best Dog Swimming Pools that Can Hold Up to Canine Splashing.”
Do You Need to Buy Your Dog a Pool This Summer?
If you have the space and time for it, a dog pool is a great way to introduce water safely, provide entertainment, and build a bond with your dog—not to mention provide a safe and cool spot to chill. Even if your pup really isn’t into swimming, a dog pool is durable enough to stand up to other forms of enrichment and exercise.
“One of my favorite ways to use a dog pool is to hide toys, treats, and chews and let the dog sniff and find all the fun things in there,” Nett says. “You can also put dirt or sand in the pool and give your dog a designated digging area in the off-season.”
And with all the different types of dog swimming pools out there, there’s a good chance you’ll be able to find one that suits your pup’s needs.
If cooling alone is your goal and you’re afraid your pup won’t set foot in a pool, try a dog cooling vest or a cooling mat. You can also consider upping your pup’s hydration with a dog water fountain that encourages drinking or a dog water bottle for when you’re on the go.
A Note on Dog Pool Safety
It’s a good idea to supervise your pup with any new toy that comes their way, but that’s especially true where dog swimming pools are concerned. A lot of splashing and excitement in the sun can lead a pup to drink too much pool water, which in rare cases can cause a serious condition called water intoxication. Always supervise pool play to keep things safe and fun!
How We Chose Our Dog Pools
The dog swimming pools featured here were selected based on a combination of our own hands-on testing, a comprehensive look at customer reviews across a wide variety of retail platforms, and interviews with experts like professional trainer Audrey Nett of Auddogs. We evaluated pools based on durability, convenience, flexibility for different play styles, and ease of use. We’re also guided by the experience of living and playing alongside our own much-loved and strongly opinionated pets, who are never stingy with their feedback.
- The Best Dog Swimming Pools That Can Hold Up to Canine Splashing
- Yaheetech vs. Frisco: Which Dog Swimming Pool Stands Up to Canine Claws?
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