As many other dog owners can probably relate Bonnie hates getting bathed but she loves to have a little swim in rivers and streams. She also doesn’t care at all about rain no matter how heavy it is!
But one thing Bonnie has always had an issue with is the sea. The sight and sound of waves (especially noisy crashing waves on a windy day) would absolutely drive her mad. She would lunge, whine, bark and we couldn’t get her attention whatsoever! I had always envisioned taking my dog to the beach way back before we adopted Bonnie so I was quite disheartened.
We went to the beach maybe 3 times in the first year with her before we had all but given up hope. Instead we concentrated on getting her confident and focused in other scenarios and in the past several months it has really started to pay dividends especially as my own learning has progressed and skills improved.
Back in September on our trip to Portrush it was the first time she had been to a beach in ages, and if you have read that post you’ll remember how she embarrassed me on that beach! But hey at least I was able to get her back, I don’t think there would’ve been a chance earlier on in our training.
Since then though we have been going from strength to strength and have had 2 really successful beach trips – one in November and one at the start of this month. I uploaded the video below to our Facebook page showing the before (October 2015 and before we really hit our groove with training) and the after (November 16)
Our recent beach trip was the best yet and I was so so proud of her. She was able to be off lead without chasing the waves, chasing the other dogs and their balls or running away. She was able to focus, play with her ball and even stopped when I called her name as she was thinking of chasing the other dog. Also just before the video starts she was enthusiastically chewing on a bit of seaweed which I was able to get her to drop without any force and also could pick up her ball while she was playing with it to continue our play – these successes mean a lot to us as she used to resource guard food and toys, so lots of wins for us!
I really am so pleased with how well Bonnie is doing these days and I’m glad our hard work is paying off!
Update – Paws 4 Swim is now closed but the pool has been relocated to Aqua Dog Hydrotherapy at Moira Road Lisburn. Also another hydrotherapy pool – Paws for a Splash has opened at the East Belfast Enterprise Park. We hope to try these out sometime soon and do reviews on them.
I had recently found Paws4Swim through their Facebook page and was really interested in trying it out with Bonnie. She is a bit fixated on the pond at the leisure centre where we walk so I was curious whether she liked swimming.
It was easy to find using Google Maps (location here) and although we arrived early we were invited on into the building. When we first entered I was really impressed by the pool, it is large, big enough to accommodate all sizes of dog, and is heated to a lovely warm temperature to make it comfortable for the dog.
We filled out a form with Bonnie’s details, took off her harness and collar, and then she got a little shower to get ready for the pool. She was given a life jacket and I was happy to see that they don’t skimp out on the dogs’ safety as they use the Ruffwear brand which is expensive but excellent quality (My Review of the Ruffwear Front Range Harness).
She was lead up the ramp to the pool and was a bit wary of entering the water first of all. But soon she was in and doing a practice lap of the pool while being held. She gave us little pleading looks to begin with as it was all so new to her but we were reassured that most dogs are like that for their first time. In no time she grew in confidence and swam unaided to chase the balls.
Unfortunately I didn’t catch her name but the staff member was really friendly, professional and did a great job acclimatising Bonnie to the water and motivating her to play fetch with the ball. I also liked that they had a wide range of toys for the dogs to play with so would cater to all tastes but Bonnie’s favourite will always be balls especially ones that squeak!
Bonnie seemed to really enjoy herself after she got acclimatised, she got lots of exercise and was a happy sleepy pup the rest of the day after an initial hyper moment when we got home (staff member said this was common especially after their first visit).
As well as providing swim sessions for fun they also provide hydrotherapy sessions for dogs recovering from injuries. Overall I think it’s a fantastic facility that provides a great service at a reasonable price. I will definitely be bringing Bonnie back here.