When temperatures soar, giving your dog a chance to cool off with a swim is a great idea. But unless you have a pool or know where a local swimming hole is, it can be hard to find a spot for your dog. It really depends on where you live and whether you have dog-friendly pools or bodies of water in your area. These tips can help you locate the best place for your dog so they can stay cool and safe while splashing around in the water.
Check Public Pools
Try checking with your local public pool. Public pools usually do not allow dogs due to public health regulations. However, many (especially outdoor pools) offer an end-of-season swim just for dogs and their owners. These swim events are becoming more popular and seem to be popping up all over the country. Often, the fees collected at these events are donated to animal shelters or other pet-related charities.
- Pet Friendly Travel offers a list of pools and aquatic centers across the country that host these dog swimming days.
- Check with your city or county Department of Parks and Recreation for dog swimming events at public pools in your area.
Look for Dog Parks With Water
Check if there's a dog park within driving distance of your location that includes a water feature for pets to enjoy. Some have pools, splash pads, rivers, and more.
Find Local Swimming Lakes
If you happen to live in an area with swimmable lakes, you'll find many of these allow dogs. You can look for dog-friendly lakes through online dog travel resource sites, such as BringFido and others mentioned above. You can also try the following ideas:
- Visit your local outdoor recreation store, such as REI, Cabelas, or Bass Pro Shops. Staff are usually well-educated on all sorts of outdoor sports in the area and can give you information on lakes for you and your pup.
- Check your local city, county, and state websites for their parks and recreation sections.
- Check the National Parks Service website as well if there are national properties in your area.
- If you have a local Sierra Club chapter in your area, members may be able to give you some advice on dog-friendly lakes and hiking spots.
Take a Day at a Dog Beach
Public beaches are a great place for your dog to dip their toes into swimming. While some beaches enforce fines if you bring a dog, others encourage dog owners to bring their pooches and play in the water.
- Pet Friendly Travel is a great resource for finding dog-friendly beaches near you. The site has an interactive map.
- BringFido is another dog travel website where you can search for dog-friendly beaches by city. The site includes helpful user ratings.
Be considerate and clean up after your dog when you go to a public beach or any other place that allows dogs to come play. Being courteous ensures you maintain the privilege for other dog lovers to enjoy.
Some State Parks Allow Pets
A lot of state parks have a no-pets policy, but not all. In fact, several parks allow dogs to swim during off-season or even all year long. Some even have designated dog swimming areas.
- Pet Friendly Travel has listings of state parks where dogs can swim.
- Reach out to local state parks to inquire about their pet policy and whether they allow swimming.
Other Ways to Find Dog Swimming Spots
There are a number of other ways to find local places to take your dog swimming.
- Yelp can provide great information on local spots with reviews and photos from people who have actually been there with their dogs. Just search for "dog swimming" or "dog pools" to see what you can find.
- Depending on where you live, there may be some local Meetup groups for dog owners that include outings to swimming holes, among other activities.
- Speaking to other dog owners and professionals in your community can also yield advice on places to swim near you. People who tend to be actively involved with their dogs are likely to know the best spots in town.
- Contact your veterinarian's office, local shelters, rescue groups, and dog trainers for their input.
- Staff members at pet supply stores tend to be good sources of information about dog-friendly activities in your community. They may have advice on places your dog can swim.
Consider a Backyard Dog Pool
Unfortunately, many owners wind up lamenting, "There's no dog swimming pool near me." If you find that's the case in your area, you could consider buying a swimming pool for your pet because nothing is closer than your own backyard. You might choose:
- An above-ground kiddie pool or wading pool from a local department store.
- A heavy-duty plastic model designed just for dogs.
- A DIY in-ground pool for your dog.
From our editor Ethan Mizer's personal experience, a soft-sided wading pool or a friend's in-ground pool are the best options. Depending on the size of your dog, they may not actually get to swim, but just lounging in some shallow water will keep them cool and happy. For added fun, turn on the sprinkler and let your dog work on catching the water droplets. This is great fun for you both!
Always Plan Safety First
A good swim can help your dog cool off, and it's great exercise and fun for them. Make sure you always use a life vest in deeper water, introduce your dog to the water slowly so you can assess how well they swim, and keep your pet in sight at all times. Keep these safety tips in mind, and you and your pet are bound to enjoy hours in the water together.