This time of year many of us are lucky enough to be able to spend time in our own backyard in our own pool. Sometimes you may want to be in your pool without having to worry about your dog and her behaviors, whether it is jumping on you and your visitors or barking while running around the pool.
Unfortunately, these behavioral problems may have been inadvertently created because at one time when your now adult dog was a puppy, the behaviors were cute. Now, the more you try and stop them, the more she thinks you are playing. Your kids may jump in the pool and then actively entice her to leap in with them. They may have her chase them around the pool and then jump in. Your dog would naturally follow by trying to jump on them as they entered the water. When she was a puppy you may have even had little goodies you would give her when she got in the pool and would bring all her toys with them into the pool. This taught your dog that it is acceptable to have these behaviors whenever anyone is in the pool.
Now you need to undo the inappropriate rule. In order to accomplish this, you need to set up new boundaries, decrease adrenalized triggers, and introduce more appropriate distractions. Here are some tips to help your dog have better behaviors around your pool:
- Whenever anyone was going to get in the pool, make sure your dog is on leash. There must be a “handler” who will be holding the leash.
- The handler should walk outside the pool area with another family member and 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.
- If your dog begins to adrenalize, the handler will correct and redirect her away until she becomes calm.
- Once your dog is calm, reintroduce her to the pool area and repeat the redirection until she no longer gets adrenalized.
- Repeat this for a few days until your dog no longer behaviors poorly while on leash around the pool.
- Once your dog is fine with this, repeat all the above steps without having your dog on the leash.
- Once your dog can calmly see a family member in the pool area and stays calm, have the family member calmly step into the pool. The handler is once again holding the leash and guides her to a chair or towel near the pool where some toys and goodies are located.
- The person gets deeper into the pool and calmly moves around. If your dog starts to adrenalize, the handler walks her around to an area where she is calm and refocuses 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 your dog reacts, the handler corrects and redirects.
- Once your dog has been calm with the person in the pool, the handler drops the leash and slowly steps away. This allows her to make a more “natural” decision regarding what she has just learned.
- If your dog gives too much focus to the person in the pool, the handler picks up the leash, and redirects until she is no longer engaged.
- Repeat the above steps for a few days until your dog is not interested in the person in the pool.
- Continue to repeat the steps while adding more family members until you have the entire family in the pool and playing with your dog behaving correctly.
- Make sure to not throw balls and other things in the pool for your dog to fetch. This can reverse the progress you have made.
If you enjoy having your dog in the pool with you, it is fine to start to reintroduce her back in the pool with the family members, once she has learned how to behave around the pool. This must be done by invitation only. Make sure your dog knows where the steps are so she can safely exit the pool.
Jeri Wagner is a canine behavioral therapist and master trainer. Jeri uses a natural training system leveraging the same communication methods – body language and voice control – that dogs follow as part of their instinctive pack mentality. Training takes place in the home where the problems generally occur. Jeri trains in western Montgomery County, northern Chester County and eastern Berks County. For more information, call 1-877-500 BARK (2275) or visit www.barkbusters.com.
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