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How Do I Get My Canine Into the Pool?


A white hound dog with brown on his face and ears is standing, smiling next to a kid's above-ground swimming pool

In a spot with sweltering summers, a option to cool off an energetic canine like Lewis is a should! And it’s a bonus if he can have enjoyable doing it. So I obtained a doggie swimming pool. They’ve improved lots since I obtained one for Clara about 10 years in the past. I obtained a reasonably massive one for Lewis, not interested by the challenges that may current for him.  

He was unwilling to leap into it at first, so I’m going to share the systematic means I launched him to the pool.

There have been some indicators that Lewis would finally 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, and I obtained an enormous one as a result of Clara enjoys water, too.

I knew he may not belief the entire endeavor straight away, so for his first introduction to the pool, I took what I felt was center floor. I selected a sizzling day (antecedent association). I put the pool in a sunny space so the water would heat up a bit and crammed it solely partway full. I threw a few his toys in there that might float. I obtained in there myself and beckoned him.

No go. No means in hell was he going to jump over the 12-inch wall into the pale blue unknown. I discovered 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 purpose 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 obtained there! Right here’s how we did it.

Observe: this methodology was for introduction to a child’s above-ground pool solely. If it is advisable to educate your canine to swim in a built-in pool, try “The way to 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 bit too bizarre, and the partitions have been too excessive for him to step over in a means he felt protected. I might have angled the wall down considerably and began that means, with me shaping him to step into the pool house. However that would have proved awkward as we proceeded. And I needed 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 protected 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:

  • stepping 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 leap

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 record under). The operant conditioning was my encouraging Lewis, utilizing constructive reinforcement, to work together with the objects.

 If he had been afraid of those objects in themselves, I’d have leaned extra towards a classical strategy, however I didn’t must. The pool had already been in his setting for a number of days and he had by no means been terrified of it. Leaping in was the problem.

I had seen him be equally reluctant with different objects. Here’s a video exhibiting his baseline response—avoidance—when invited to leap over or get in some objects, together with the swimming pool.

Slightly than attempting to form him to get into one factor, as I did 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. I positively strengthened these behaviors to increase his palette of behaviors and construct completely satisfied associations with the objects and actions. I took issues slowly sufficient that he was rarely 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 been avoiding earlier.

Desensitization Order

That is the order of the actions. I by no means lured him onto or into something with meals or toys; I used a bit concentrating on however principally waited for him to get the thought and get in on his personal, then I strengthened 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.)
  • Bounce 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 chunk of cardboard on the ground whereas I anchor it (no sliding!).
  • Step into a big, shallow plastic tray (this was an enormous 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.
  • Bounce over an agility leap set at 2″. This was one other object he walked by a number of instances daily however was reluctant to work together with once I requested him to.
  • Bounce onto a 12″ platform whereas it’s positioned subsequent to and abutting the pool.
  • Bounce onto a 12″ platform whereas it’s positioned inside the pool (no water).
  • Bounce from the 12″ platform onto the two″ platform within the pool.
  • Bounce down from considered one of these into the pool.
  • Bounce straight into the (dry) pool.
  • Repeat a choice of the final three few with water within the pool, and maybe Eileen within the pool as effectively.
  • Bounce straight into the pool with water in it.

First Steps with the Platforms, Packing containers, and Bounce

Right here’s a video exhibiting the muse work we did with many of the listed objects. Sure, he actually obtained proper into the plastic tray once I requested him to, although he wouldn’t do this earlier once I tried to form the habits.

Making use of The Actions to the Pool

Then I introduced all of the objects outdoors and obtained him into and on them once more. I added the swimming pool to the combo, with no water in it.

I put the 12″ platform subsequent to the pool and had him get on a bunch of instances. 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 additionally the decrease platform into the pool. Quickly he had jumped down onto the platform and was additionally snug leaping down into the pool itself and exploring it.

I’m happy with pondering of utilizing the platform. It’s exhausting to separate out gradations of stepping into an above-ground pool. You might be both in or out of it. There are not any stairs. However elevating the underside modified the character of the leap 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 snug 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 recurrently for enjoyable and to see if one thing attention-grabbing had blown in. And naturally, I gave him a 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 began leaping straight into the pool from outdoors of it. Win!

The following 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 obtained 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 simply picked up your younger canine and plopped him into the pool and every thing labored out high-quality. Or perhaps you even threw him within the water to be taught to swim. However even when your canine likes water now, these should not good strategies.

As with all makes use of of aversives, there’s a danger of fallout. Perhaps your canine was fortunate and got here out unscathed and discovered to like water. Many canines wouldn’t. Apart from being unkind within the second, you risked traumatizing your canine. And it takes considerably longer to deal with the concern that usually outcomes from that than it does to go gradual initially.

Talking of “gradual”—my methodology wasn’t gradual. It took a lot, far more time to put in writing up this put up and edit the films than to do the coaching. There have been lower than quarter-hour of coaching, and that included the enjoyable play on the finish. That’s quarter-hour to offer my canine one thing that can enrich him for the remainder of his life.

Will Lewis Love It?

I’ve achieved my major purpose. Lewis is snug leaping into and out of the pool, together with with water in it. This might be enormously useful within the sizzling Arkansas summer time. He and I typically have play periods outside within the night, however even after the solar goes down, the humidity retains it highly regarded. So it’s really a security measure to have the ability to get him into the pool.

I don’t know whether or not he’ll find yourself being a water canine. Will he search out the pool and play within the water? We’ll see. My preliminary perception was that he would. However I’ve seen issues as we go alongside.

He’s fussy about his toes being moist. He doesn’t prefer it when his toys are moist. He’ll hesitate and virtually refuse to choose up his Jolly Ball (favourite toy ever) if it has been within the pool and the rope is moist. Regardless that he’ll leap into the pool now as a part of his circuit across the yard, he does it solely when I’m sitting there. The sport he created is principally working across the yard with me as a focus. This can be a variant of video games we play on a regular basis; I simply occur to be at or within the pool.

So I’ve but to search out out whether or not the pool might be only a useful option to cool off, or the middle of extra enjoyable actions for him.

I’m publishing this now, with out understanding the end result for Lewis, as a result of I do know different individuals are engaged on the identical downside. I hope this put up helps some others type their very own plan.

Copyright 2022 Eileen Anderson

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