New Jersey Dog Training-Hillsborough
a labrador dog

Gail Kulur


P.O. Box 7241 Hillsborough, NJ 08844


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‘Dogs are Like Swimming Pools’

‘Dogs are Like Swimming Pools’ – children and dog safety.

A classic written by my friend Jill Morstad: Thanks Jill!


Prairie K9

5 hrs ·

From the PK9 archive:

I see many dogs and their families in the kindergarten puppy classes I teach where biting and chewing are issues we must address, and where an examination of the interaction of children and dogs is preoperative to a successful training outcome.

I have started telling parents that ‘a dog is like a swimming pool’. Here’s what I mean: both dog and swimming pool have the power to significantly enhance our quality of life, and exist as sources of pleasure, entertainment and enjoyment. For many people, a dog (or a swimming pool) is the final brushtroke on the portrait of success, rendering the family ‘complete.’

So, with regard to dog and swimming pool, a couple of notes:

1) We fence our backyards to limit access and reduce our liability. A fence is required by law around swimming pools in most municipalities and this is likely to become the case for dogs as well if we don’t wise up and recognize that problem dogs have problem owners.

2) All parents know that when it comes to swimming pools, we have to do two things. We have to teach our children to swim AND we have to supervise them. Not just one or the other, but both and all the time.

Six weeks of swimming lessons for a three-year old (or a five-year-old or even a twelve-year-old) does not entitle the parent to exit poolside and head indoors to take a nap or watch the football game on tv… likewise, supervision is a poor substitute for an extended formal education about how to be safe in and around the water. Knowing how to swim is an essential skill, to the extent that knowing how to swim may save your life one day.

And so it is with dogs — parents must train the dogs to be safe around children AND train the children to be safe around dogs, Not one or the other, but both. Also, supervision is absolutely critical, because the size of the dog (or the size of the child) predict nothing; in one documented case, a Pomeranian hopped on a bed and mauled an infant. The baby later died at the hospital.

Oh, and one more thing: if your child cannot demonstrate swimming skills and knowledge of safety rules around the pool in your own backyard, will you trust that child to go off swimming at a neighbor’s house, where it is not clear that either the rules or the level of supervision will match your own?

To the parent who argued with me that it should be okay for her son to hug their family dog, wrestle with it on the floor, blow in its face and tug on its whiskers (dog was already snapping its teeth in kids’ faces)I say this: if your child cannot demonstrate safety skills with respect to their own dog, will you trust your child in the home of a friend where the kids and dog in *that* household have not been trained or taught, nor are sufficiently supervised?

When it comes to children and swimming pools, or children and dogs, safety lessons are paramount. Knowing how to be safe around a dog may save your child’s life some day.


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