I was delighted when we got our new home, because it had a pool in the back yard. Our two black Labradors just love having that fun source of play so close. We didn’t have kids yet at the time, so pool safety wasn’t yet a big concern. But then I realized I needed to think about safety for the dogs. Here are some things I did:

Show them the way out. It’s easy for our dogs to get in the water. Jump, splash, and they’re happily paddling around. But with a new pool, I wanted to make sure they knew how to safely get out of the pool. I set two potted plants on either side of the pool steps so they would have something to focus on. I called the dogs out while I was standing just behind the steps. I did that several times, to make sure they got it. I walked back near the house when both dogs were in the water. I called them out, then watched with pleasure as they first looked at me, then swam over to the steps and came right out.

Here is an excellent resource about pool safety for dogs:

Install a safety pool cover. Even though our labs both know how to swim, we didn’t want to take chances. Plus, there was always the chance that a neighbor’s dog might get into our back yard. So we got a safety cover for the pool. It doesn’t take long to install, and in the winter, it’s wonderful for keeping the water warm with little circulation. Particularly in the winter, I didn’t want one of the dogs to jump in the really cold water, panic and get in trouble. With the pool cover, I don’t have that worry.

Add a fence. We were planning for a family later, so a pool fence was just a good investment, and another layer of protection for the dogs. We wanted a way to monitor and control when the dogs got in the water, and the fence was perfect. Now we can let the labs out into the yard to take care of business, and not have to deal with drying off a pet each time. Believe me, it would have been that way – these dogs are just that wild about playing in the water.

Always be watching. Even with the protection we have around the pool, we didn’t want to just open the gate to the fence, let the dogs into the pool area, and go back in the house. So when the dogs are in the pool, we are too. It gives us peace of mind that there won’t be an incident with one of the dogs, and we wouldn’t be around to help and take care of them.

Keep fresh water available. We make sure that the dogs have a bowl of fresh water available, so they won’t be as tempted to drink from the pool. The chlorine and chemicals in the water discourage them, but if they know where the fresh water is, they will use it.

Dog showers. We don’t want the dogs to get out of the pool and then be trying to lick chemicals out of their fur, so we give them a shower after they get out of the water. First they get a thorough rinsing, and then my husband turns it into a game, letting them chase the spray from the hose. They never try to avoid shower time.

Now that we have our pool safe for the dogs, I get to sit back and smile as I stand in the pool with the dogs happily swimming around me.

Kaitlin Gardner started AnApplePerDay.com to further her passion for a family friendly, green living lifestyle. She is married to her college sweetheart and lives in Pennsylvania. She and her husband enjoy going for long hikes, to get out and enjoy nature. She is working on her first book about ways to live an eco-friendly, healthy, natural life