Dogs And Above Ground Pools

Dogs and Above Ground Pools

Every swim season I get a lot of questions about dogs and above ground pools. For some, their canine pets are a big part of the family and they want them to experience everything the family experiences. If they go on vacation, the dog comes along. If they have a cookout, the dog eats some barbeque. Outdoor concert? The dog goes too. So with so much puppy love going on in the world, it’s no wonder that owners want their pets to swim with them in their new above ground pool. Below is some info on the topic.

Biggest Question First – Will My Dog Damage My Pool?

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This is by far the most common question I get from dog owners.

The answer – probably not.

How’s that for an answer to get you to keep reading? There is really only one way for a dog to damage your above ground pool while he enjoys a splash. And, the damage can be prevented with a little training. So, don’t fret, because Fido and the pool will be fine.

It’s not a coincidence that it’s called “doggy-paddle”

Most dogs can swim and those that don’t know how usually learn pretty easily (unless you try to teach them the backstroke). Anyway, dogs swim in only one style. They do what is called the doggy-paddle. When they doggy-paddle, they use their front paws and their hind legs. Now, an above ground pool has a vinyl liner on the sides and bottom to contain the water inside. In short, the vinyl could get damaged if the dog’s paws stroke against it a lot. In other words, if your pet doggy-paddles directly against the side of the pool wall where the vinyl is, his nails can scratch the material and cause a tear. Ouch.

Most people can teach their dog not to scratch his paws against the pool wall. Some can even teach the smarter dogs not to place their paws on the top rail of the pool. Dogs will really only want to go near the edge of the pool if they are getting tired of paddling or just want to be still in the water. Thus, I want to make a good suggestion.

Have a Landing Or Resting Spot For Your Dog

So you have a dog that loves the water. He has fun being in the pool with the family doggy-paddling around and occasionally barking at the splashes. Eventually though, your canine pet will get tired while he’s in the water and will need to rest. Surely he’ll rest where he can by putting his front paws on your shoulders or on a float or something and that will be fine. However, if there were a place where he could always take a rest, it would be better. The top rungs of a basic A-frame Ladder in the pool will provide a good place for your dog to rest. There is something better, though. Get Steps For Your Above Ground Pool instead.

Getting steps for the inside of your pool will cost more than a basic ladder and will take up more of the swim area, but it is well worth it if you plan on swimming with (enter your dog’s name here). A good set of wide or wedding cake type pool steps provides a much bigger landing/resting area for your dog. Wide steps will also make it much easier for your dog to get in and out of the pool by himself which will make him happier and less stressed. Over the years I’ve seen some creative homemade landing areas for above ground pools. So, if you want to be creative and make something better, go for it.

Will The Water Hurt My Dog in Some Way?

Generally speaking, swimming pool water should not harm your pet. This is as long as your water is clear, balanced and healthy. All bets are off if your pool is green and nasty, though. So, don’t let your dog swim in a pool that you wouldn’t swim in, and all will be good.

Like a human, a dog is a land animal so prolonged soaking in the pool can cause some skin issues. However, this is really rare. Excessive exposure to chlorine can cause skin to dry out and too low pH levels in a pool can cause skin irritation, but again this is only under extreme conditions and is very rare. A dog should be less sensitive to water conditions than people. So, as long as you are OK swimming in your pool, it is safe for your prized pooch to swim too.

Does My Dog Affect My Pool’s Filter?

Depending on what breed of dog you have, it can make a difference on your pool’s filter. It’s all about how much hair they shed. All dogs shed (unless you have one of those weird looking hairless dogs). Dog hair will be collected by the filter without any issues and will be cleaned out with all the other large debris when you do maintenance. You may have to clean your filter more often though. Pool owners with three sheepdogs will definitely have to clean their filter more than someone with only one trolling chihuahua. There are extreme situations. I used to maintain a pool where the owner would bath and wash all five of her large dogs in her swimming pool often. The shampoo, dirt and hair that this produced made it much harder to maintain clear healthy water. So, keep in mind that there are limits.

So that’s it. You have a green light for letting your dog swim in your above ground swimming pool. This is good as most dogs love the water. And they are, after all, part of the family.

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44 thoughts on “Dogs and Above Ground Pools

  1. Yes dogs can indeed poke holes in the liner with their nails! I have had an above ground pool for 5 years now. We have Golden Retrievers. Needless to say they LOVE the water. We built a custom ramp and deck just for them! However, whenever there are balls involved in the water, they swim after them, often times pushing off the sides of the pool to swim around or stop themselves. Our pool is 15ft so maybe the smaller size plays into this. Currently about 20 patches all around the liner from them. Its not pretty. You can probably train your dogs not to swim so close to the sides??? You could also omit the activity that is causing the holes?? But leaping after balls is my dogs favorite activity. Don’t be me, train your dogs. lol and save your liner.

  2. I have a very log dog who’s back paws touch the bottom of the 54’ pool and he pushes off the bottom. I got him water shoes. He goes in and out on the stairs. He doesn’t stay in long. It’s hard for him to swim because he is so big. He does love the water though.

  3. A bit late to the show, thank you for your great ideas. I don’t know why I did not think of them! Growing up in the ’80s, we had an in-ground pool (man do I miss that pool), our dogs quickly figured out exactly where the steps were. Those particular dogs were very frustrating to train, but they figured out how to find those steps in a flash.

    PS ‘Cesar Milan’ is a dirty word in the professional and hobbyist dog training communities. So are Victoria Stillwell and Zak George… 😉

  4. Best comments sections ever! I hope he can come train my dog too 😛 He is a dog trainer right?? lol

    Very informative article. Some people need to get a clue. Cheers!

  5. 😂😂😂😂😂-Above Ground Pool Whisperer
    Didn’t even have to go to fb for entertainment. Good article. Some people are dumb.

  6. This was informative and helpful, thanks for writing it. My 54″ high above ground is getting installed this week and I’m building a deck addition next to it. I was thinking about putting railings around the pool deck with a gate to keep the dog out, but I’m rethinking this now. We have a German Shepherd who I know will jump right in and I was worried that she’d rip the liner open. I might see how it goes with just close supervision of her before I put up a railing.

    Some other comments did bring up a question in my mind. How durable is the steel wall from the outside? Should I consider fencing around the exposed sides to protect them? The likely hazards would include stray soccer balls and footballs and maybe a jumping dog. I was thinking that the main risk would be scratching the finish which would invite rust. I’d think that a steel wall with that much water pushing on it would be pretty rigid and that a soccer ball wouldn’t do much of anything to it, but I’ve never had one of these.


  7. My dog seems afraid of pool he is 31 lbs we want to try to get him to like it what do we do ,above ground pool four foot

    1. It sounds like you aren’t feeding him the right kind of dog food. Seriously, I don’t know. I’m an above ground pool whisperer. Ask Cesar Millan or something.

  8. My pitbull poked a hole in the exterior side of the above ground pool chasing after a lizard. She doesn’t go in the pool. She is afraid when we are in it splashing. My problem is when she goes out to go potty and spots something she wants to chase. What kind of fencing should I use to keep her nails far enough away from the outside of the pool?

    1. I’m assuming you have a soft-sided pool. They don’t last very long so I would consider that when making a barrier to protect the wall. Some sheets of lattice work should be all you need.

    2. While it might end up being costly, I’d suggest a deck built around the pool so that it essentially becomes an in-ground style and gives a beautiful aesthetic to your backyard while adding value to your property. You can add a gate to the deck so it’s not accessible to young children as well as animals. I feel like being a responsible pool owner is more important than the damage potentially caused and gating/fencing off the area will always be your best bet. Because even if your pet is trained to avoid the area…. your child or a child visiting might not do the same. Better safe than sorry, right?

  9. The author did not respond in a jerky way. The article was clearly written to benefit dog owners who do treat their dogs as family members, and want to include them in all their family activities. The purpose of the article was stated in his opening paragraph. That is probably why he was somewhat surprised by Moe’s question. My dog is considered a family member. He works hard to love and protect us, and we reward him by including him in on activities that he enjoys. 🙂

  10. Saying dogs are dirtier than humans is a far stretch. I’m a nurse and more illnesses/infections are caused by humans than dogs. Get your facts straight. You don’t deserve a dog.

  11. I agree with you. Now a days people are treating dogs like humans. Pet owners let the dogs sleep in their beds, sit in laps while driving, sharing food of the same plate, and so on. When does it stop? Those are animals and should be treated as such. I do not allow dogs/cats inside of my home..espcislly my pool where I have young children playing. 1 dog inside of a small pool, equals almost as 3-5 adults when it comes to contaminating pool water. Above ground pools are filled once during the season..unlike public pools that circulate their whole water ever 8 hours or so, with brand new water.

    1. I don’t know who you know that has dogs that lick off plates or sit on laps while driving, but if you’re keeping your dogs and away from your children you’re a moron and should not have a dog. Keeping a dog in the house, safe, doesn’t mean you’re treating it like a human. Dogs have been domesticated for years and shouldn’t be kept ‘out back’ on a chain. I’m guessing your a southern hick.

  12. Not everyone wants a dog in the pool with their kids. Not everyone is the same. Not everyone wants the dog in the house. I came here looking for an answer but based off his comment obviously I’m not.

  13. Hello. Great piece on dogs and pools. I have a Giant Schnauzer, she loves the water but I can’t seem to find any real dog beaches to go around here – I’m not from here – I have a shallow backyard that could manage some size of above ground pool, there is deck, but not very elevated next to where I would think to put it. I’m pretty sure I can work out an entry/exit route as well as build a small “basking” area just above the water. I do worry about her nails – they are always trimmed, but they are large and fully functional. Since there will be only one normal way in and out, I would some sort of material could be placed over the “I’m scratching to get out” area. Can you suggest a pool for a small yard, rectangular and maybe deep enough for human enjoyment? A hot tub comes to mind, but too noisy and I don’t think my Giant would like it. Thanks in advance.

    1. Donald,
      I have a Giant Schnauzer too! Where are you from? And did the pool work out? Because I’m seriously entertaining the idea. I’d love to hear from you

  14. Thank you for this information! I’m considering getting some swim boots for my pup as well, just to make sure the liner doesn’t get damaged!

  15. I want to get an above ground pool but my puppy lab loves to chew and jump on everything. How can I keep him from jumping on the outside of the pool while we are in it and while we are gone for the day?

    1. Really? How about leaving him in the house when you swim or bringing him in the pool? Regardless, don’t let your dog dictate your life. Oh and watch some Dog Whisperer shows. Please remember that a well trained dog is a happier dog.

      1. This response is A1. While I am here to give you that much, I also want to say thank you for the well structured and thorough article. Skimming through it to get the information I needed was a breeze.

      2. well arnt you kind of an ass….. dogs tend to be able to go outside free will and watching you pet 24hrs a day is not always an option. My dogs chew too and im looking for an awnser not a dumb ass who thinks he know what the hell hes talking about.

        1. His answer was dead on , correct , straight and to the point .
          I do not know Dan Dougher nor am I affiliated with him in anyway . I am however a dog trainer and can tell you pool information set aside , not being able to control Fidos protective instinct ( most likely why he is doing that) is not only annoying but potentially dangerous .
          That said also keep in mind it was not even a pool question. People get offended way to easy.

        2. The answer is training and appropriate confinement, which is exactly what he said. Don’t want to bother? Get a fish.

        3. I thought the same thing. In fact it’s my question as well. I want a pool but it will be in back yard. My dogs go out back so wanted to know if they jump on outside of it will it be damaged. My dogs are well behaved but are dogs. What a jerk answer

          1. If you dogs jump on things and ruin them, maybe they’re not as well behaved as you think they are. How about training them NOT to jump on it or fencing it off. Are you looking for a magical answer that requires nothing on your behalf because that’s lazy and not realistic.

        4. Well, first off learn how to spell then train your dog!!!!!!! You are the idiot calling someone names that is trying to help people !!!!!!

      3. While I think your article was helpful and informative, I don’t think your response to Moe was. You don’t need to be nasty, he is just asking for some helpful advice, and by the way, isn’t that what you do?-give advice??? So try and do it with a sense of decorum instead of being a jerk.

        1. If you don’t want the truth then don’t ask the question. Get a therapy doll instead of a dog if you are that sensitive!

    2. I had the same concern, but I have a plastic shell pool for my doggo to play in next to the “human pool” which is way easier for him to get in and out of and he is still close to us so that he doesn’t feel left out..

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