Ask the Trainer: Wintertime Swim Sessions


Robert Barnes

Q:  My 8-year-old dog Quincy has arthritis and my vet wants him to swim as much as possible. He’s not a “water-dog” by nature, but in the summer we can get him to chase toys in the lake if we really keep him focused. Now that the weather is cold, how can we keep up with his swimming? It took him so long to learn to like the lake, I’m afraid winter may be over before we can get him in a pool! Is there anything we can do to help Quincy like the water more and actually have fun?

A: Luckily for you and Quincy, the Chicago area boasts various indoor “zero depth” pools designed specifically for dogs. They are perfect for exercise, weight loss, physical therapy, and arthritis, and can be lots of fun for both you and your pet!

With a gradually sloped entry, dogs can walk into these pools just as they do when entering a lake. This allows most dogs to feel comfortable by creating a familiar environment. If Quincy needs additional assistance while swimming, most centers have a staff member devoted to each dog’s success while in the pool. When dogs wear a life vest, staff members can help the dogs swim. This will not only teach your dog how to swim but will also boost his confidence and familiarity in the water.

Most importantly, you are invited (and welcomed) to be on the deck during your dog’s swim session.  Typically, your presence will encourage and assist in your dog’s confidence in the pool. The water temperature remains at 80 degrees, with the air temperature at 82 degrees, similar to a beautiful summer day!

Don’t be discouraged if it takes Quincy a few sessions to enjoy it. Just as we humans can take some time to adjust to a new workout routine, it may take your dog some time to get his groove on! Keep at it, and he will soon look forward to his indoor swimming. Luckily for Quincy, his arthritis pain can be eased by swimming fun all year round.

About the Trainer: Robert Barnes is a certified trainer who specializes in obedience training and swim lessons. Grandson of kennel founders, Jim and Doris Cocallas, Robert has been part of Carriage Hill Kennels since he was a young boy. Field trials, boarding, and grooming have always been part of the family business, and Robert is proud to follow in his grandparent’s footsteps.

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