Monday, June 20, 2011

Kiddie pools can be great for water-loving dogs

It was a few weeks ago when I finally purchased a kiddie pool for Sensi. It's something I've been wanting to do for years and for whatever reason, I never ended up doing it.
Not this year. And with the pool I bought costing just $15 at Meijer, I can't believe I didn't do this sooner.

Introducing a dog to a kiddie pool
The first day we filled it up, my friend Allison and I took turns encouraging Sensi to go into the pool and giving him treats. I later brought out his toys and that was a real hit with him.
It's just like in a big pond — he wants the toys thrown into the pool so he can jump in after them and retrieve them. In particular, he likes having his most-prized possession — the Jolly Pets Teaser Ball — tossed in there.

Many water dogs will take to kiddie pools right away. With Sensi, everything needs to presented the right way the first time to him.
He is very reactive and fearful and while he does love water, he could've easily developed a phobia of the pool.
But, a few treats and mingling the pool with playtime sealed the deal. The dog loves his little pool.

The perfect cool down
This year has brought many long, hot days spent trying to turn our enormous front flower beds from weed-haven to presentable.
Sensi wants to be outside with us, but it gets so hot. He has to be the 30-foot cable because we have no fence.
The pool is perfect for these situations.
On Saturday, we set him up under a tree with his pool full and a couple toys. I really enjoyed seeing him use the pool without any encouragement from us.
Since we weren't throwing the ball for him, he created his own little routine. He picks up the Teaser Ball, drops it in the water, jumps in after it, paws at it and pushes it around, then picks it up and jumps out of the pool, and then repeats the process.
Sometimes, though, he just went over there and stood in the pool. I'm still waiting for him to sit or lay down in it, as I have seen so many labs do.

Here's a video of Sensi (with the help of friend Allison) enjoying his kiddie pool: 

Breaking his hose fixation
Sensi has the potential to get a little neurotic about water.
He is fearful of sprinklers and stays away from them. But hoses, oh my goodness. It's pure neuroticism.
He's not necessarily aggressive toward the hose, but extremely fixated on it. He'll bark and lunge and try to bite at the hose — I know that all sounds like aggression, but it's different. It's a fixation; an obsession — an incredibly unhealthy and unstable state of mind for a dog to be in.
Sensi has made great strides this year. He needs very few reminders that when Mommy is watering her flowers, he need not pay any attention to that pesky hose.
The kiddie pool is helping this along too. It's a struggle for him to sit there and watch the pool get filled by his very nemesis the hose, but from a behavior modification standpoint, it's a golden opportunity.
He still needs lots of reminders, but he's come a long way. He can even stand in the pool while it's being filled without paying attention to the hose — as long as I'm standing right there, of course.

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